It’s no secret that creators always want to be on the cutting edge, keeping an eye on the horizon for the most anticipated shows of the season. If you’re gearing up to select your titles for 2023, On The Stage predicts a few of this year’s hottest musicals and plays. 


Ruthless! The Musical

Good for: Small cast, soprano vocalists, comedic chops

Plot: The show follows Tina Denmark, an eight-year-old hopeful who believes she was born to play the role of Pippi Longstocking. She’s so convinced, in fact, that she’ll do just about anything to get the part in her school musical … including murdering the selected lead. Ruthless, indeed!

Runtime: 105 minutes

Matilda the Musical

Good for: Large cast, drama chops, strong falsetto vocalists

Plot: Based on the beloved Roald Dahl book, Matilda the Musical centers on Matilda Wormwood – a wildly intelligent 5-year-old who’s gifted with telekinesis. Although she lives with neglectful parents, her teacher, Miss Honey, sees Matilda’s potential and helps her to succeed and hone her powers in the meantime.

Runtime: 120 minutes

Jesus Christ Superstar

Good for: Large cast, drama chops, bass/baritone vocalists

Plot: An ambitious rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar loosely retells the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Following the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on Earth, the show explores a variety of personal relationships through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.

Runtime: 120 minutes

Billy Elliot

Good for: Small cast, drama chops, limited range leads

Plot: Set in a northern English mining town during the 1984 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot follows the titular lead, who is best known for his skills in the boxing ring. He unexpectedly finds himself in a ballet class, where he discovers his true passion – dance. Fighting against the odds, Billy works to make his dreams come true while inspiring his family and tight-knit community. 

Runtime: 120+ minutes

In The Heights

Good for: Large cast, comedy and dancing chops, multiple leads 

Plot: In the Heights is a love letter to the vibrant Washington Heights neighborhood of New York’s. Following a variety of neighbors in the area, the show explores themes including generational expectations and traditions, following one’s dreams amidst societal pressures, and the unending power of music. 

Runtime: 120+ minutes


The Importance of Being Earnest

Good for: Small cast, lighthearted humor, lovers of classics

Plot: One of Oscar Wilde’s most popular works, The Importance of Being Earnest follows John Worthing, a carefree bachelor. In a stroke of genius – he thinks – John invents a fake brother, Ernest, whose wicked ways give John an excuse to leave his home and venture to London to visit friends. Suffice it to say, hijinks ensue when John must account for “Ernest’s” many mishaps.

Runtime: 120+ minutes

Steel Magnolias 

Good for: Large cast, modern story, drama chops 

Plot: Set in northwestern Louisiana, Steel Magnolias tells the story of a group of women who often gather at an in-home beauty parlor to discuss their lives. The tight-knit group navigates a series of life harrowing milestones together, leaning on one another through health scares, tumultuous relationships, and everything in between.

Runtime: 120+ minutes

The Laramie Project 

Good for: Small cast, strong actors, drama chops, serious content

Plot: The Laramie Project was written as a reaction to the real-life 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student. The killing shined a major spotlight on the lack of laws surrounding hate crimes, especially spurred by homophobia, in Wyoming and other states. Classified as verbatim theatre, the show includes excerpts from interviews with real citizens of the town as well as published news reports. 

Runtime: 100 minutes

The Play That Goes Wrong

Good for: Large casts, multiple leads, comedy chops 

Plot: A mixture of Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes, The Play That Goes Wrong is a show within a show. Observers are dropped directly into the opening night of a play – The Murder at Haversham Manor – where things quickly devolve into chaos. A few of the many antics include actors forgetting lines and tripping over furniture, along with an unconscious leading lady. 

Runtime: 120+ minutes

The Happiness Shop

Good for: Small cast, great chemistry, drama chops 

Plot: Three middle school students – Blake, Melanie, and Wally – find themselves in an odd shop, not knowing what it is or how they got there. They’re soon introduced to roppets, a mixture of a robot and a puppet, who are consistently happy and believe middle schoolers should have nothing to worry about. Although the trio of students all have problems at home, the roppets have one question for them: What would they do to be completely happy?

Runtime: 40 minutes


If you’re having trouble selecting your shows for 2023, and none of the above struck your fancy, On The Stage can help; download the Guide to Selecting Show Titles now! Whether you’re a cast of forty or four, want to focus on comedy or drama, and are looking for a classic or modern story, this guide has you covered, guaranteed. 


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