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With warmer weather upon us, it’s time to get the gears turning for spring musical ideas. Luckily, On The Stage partners with a variety of theatrical publishers to help make licensing and planning a breeze. Below is a collection of musical/comedy highlights perfect for the second semester performance, no matter the size of your cast, their ages or your budget.
Playwrights: Book and lyrics by Bert Bernadi; music by Justin Rugg
Runtime: 80 minutes
Cast size: 5 females, 6 males (flexible)
Themes: Friendship, adventure, revenge, magic, legends
Synopsis: Everyone’s favorite green-faced villain is back with a vengeance in this imaginative sequel to The Wizard of Oz. The now-powerless Wicked Witch of the West arrives in Kansas on a mission to find Dorothy and retrieve her Raspberry Slippers and Flying Broomstick, but soon discovers that forgetful Dorothy has misplaced them. Now everyone is once again off to see the Wizard Of Oz – who currently resides in Wichita. With the help of Glinda, follow Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion on a new tune-filled adventure as they attempt to defeat the Wicked Witch once and for all.
Press: “Delightfully entertaining.” – Connecticut Critics Circle
Playwrights: Lyrics by Tim Rice; music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Runtime: 120 minutes
Cast size: 1 male, 17 any gender
Themes: Christianity, friendship, parenting/family, religion, adolescence/childhood, Jewish experience
Synopsis: One of the most enduring shows of all time, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a reimagining of the Biblical story of Joseph, his father Jacob, eleven brothers and the coat of many colors. Told entirely through song with the help of a main character Narrator, the musical follows preferred son Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, he ingratiates himself with Egyptian noble Potiphar, but ends up in jail after refusing the amorous advances of Potiphar’s wife. While imprisoned, Joseph discovers his ability to interpret dreams, and he soon finds himself in front of the mighty but troubled Elvis-inspired Pharaoh. Joseph’s solution to Egypt’s famine elevates him to Pharaoh’s right-hand man and reunites him with his family. The magical musical is full of catchy songs in a variety of styles, from a parody of French ballads (“Those Canaan Days”), to country-western (“One More Angel in Heaven”) and calypso (“Benjamin Calypso”), along with the unforgettable classics “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door.” Appropriate for all audiences and groups, Joseph is performed hundreds of times a year by schools across North America, the U.K. and around the world.
Press: “Jubilant… What keeps the show alive is its delight in simple storytelling, the bounce of Tim Rice’s lyrics and the merry eclecticism of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score, which embraces country and western, calypso, French chanson and Elvis-style rock… There is wit in Lloyd Webber’s willingness to try different styles and in Rice’s verbal dexterity.” – Michael Billington, The Guardian
Playwrights: Ken Jones, Jamey Strawn, Christine Jones
Runtime: 60 minutes
Cast size: 8 females, 8 males (3-6 extras)
Themes: Classic adaptations, comedy, deconstruction, good versus evil
Synopsis: This steampunk fairytale cleverly deconstructs the traditional Princess stereotype with humor, heart and an empowering rock musical score. Princess Aurora, a bold, unconventional young heroine, defies the age-old tradition of attending “Princess School.” As her eighteenth birthday nears, she encounters an evil witch and a cursed spinning wheel. Aurora is tested, and when she fails, for the first time, she is pushed to believe in her authentic self. Then with help from Prince Philip, she awakens, ready to rock, and begins a whirlwind quest to defeat the witch and to restore order to the Kingdom.
Playwrights: Book and music by Eric Rockwell; lyrics by Joanne Bogart
Run time: 60 minutes
Cast Size: 12 females, 12 males, ensemble (flexible)
Themes: High School, bullying, scandal, sexuality, coming of age, politics, jealousy
Synopsis: From the creator of the worldwide hit The Musical of Musicals (the Musical!) comes a tale of blackmail, media corruption, and political scandal… in high school. It’s 1977, and Vanessa, a popular cheerleader, has beaten science nerd Wendy for Student Council President with a campaign reeking of conspiracy and deceit. When the school paper breaks a bankruptcy scandal that could end her term, Vanessa makes a scapegoat of Eric, a band geek with a delicate secret. It’s Mean Girls meets High School Musical as the student body seeks to uncover the truth. With a ’70s-style score, this coming-of-age saga illustrates how it’s Up to You to take a stand against bullying, no matter how unpopular it may make you.
Press: “Wry, witty, and ultimately courageous.” – The New York Times
Playwrights: Book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
Runtime: 120 minutes
Cast size: 8 females, 9 males
Themes: Friendship, love, education, childhood, adolescence
Synopsis: Here is Rydell High’s senior class of 1959: duck-tailed, hot-rodding “Burger Palace Boys” and their gum-snapping, hip-shaking “Pink Ladies” in bobby sox and pedal pushers, evoking the look and sound of the 1950s in this rollicking musical. Head “greaser” Danny Zuko and new (good) girl Sandy Dumbrowski try to relive the high romance of their “Summer Nights” as the rest of the gang sings and dances its way through such songs as “Greased Lightnin’,” “It’s Raining on Prom Night,” “Alone at the Drive-In Movie” recalling the music of Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley that became the soundtrack of a generation. An eight-year run on Broadway and two subsequent revivals, along with innumerable school and community productions place Grease among the world’s most popular musicals.
Press: “A seat-filling crowd pleaser… delivers miles of smiles and a night of nostalgic delight.” – Syracuse.com
Playwrights: Matt Buchanan; adapted from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass
Runtime: 90-100 minutes
Cast size: 6-30+ females, 6-30+ males (12-50+ performers possible)
Themes: Fantasy, life lessons, magic, childhood
Synopsis: All the favorite characters and 13 original songs, many of whose lyrics are adapted directly from Carroll’s poems, make this a fun night out for the audience and an exciting challenge for young performers. Follow Alice as she wonders, and then investigates, what life is like on the other side of the looking glass. Is it more exciting? Will she be more important? Alice meets a host of colorful characters, including Humpty Dumpty, the White Knight, Tweedle Dee and Tweedly Dum, and a Lion and a Unicorn. She even briefly becomes Queen. Still, in the end she comes to realize that as exotic as it might be, the “other side” is no substitute for home.
Playwrights: Tom Shelton, Alyssa Canann
Runtime: 120 minutes
Cast size: 3-5 females, 4-6 males, 1 either, 8-12 total cast (doubling possible)
Themes: Interactive theater, comedy, mystery, intrigue
Synopsis: The time is 1928, the place is New York City. It is the opening night party at a swank Times Square restaurant for a particularly dreadful new Broadway musical. With each new review comes a mysterious death, and so it falls to Anthony Badger, food critic and amateur sleuth, along with the audience, to sort out the patterns and find the killer. A smart, affectionate parody of theatrical characters in the best glimpse-backstage tradition. This comic murder-mystery is perfect for small theatre companies who need small-cast plays.