Annual School Play Survey By EdTA Shows New Favorites Amid COVID Closures

According to the annual school play survey conducted by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), The Addams Family, Clue, and Check Please received top billing for the most produced musical, full-length play, and short play, respectively, during the 2019-20 school year, which was cut short by the closures required by the COVID-19 pandemic.

EdTA’s annual survey of the plays and musicals most frequently produced in America’s middle and high schools provides a snapshot of what resonates with teens, their teachers, families, and communities. This year’s survey will always have a figurative asterisk indicating the incomplete season schools experienced when required to shut down in March 2020. The survey took that into account, asking about both plays that were performed and the impact of cancellations. 

Closures affect more than the current season; most high school theatre programs rely on spring shows to finance the following fall’s productions, creating a double hit. In fact, 85 percent of the survey’s nearly 3,300 responding schools reported that they canceled performances, resulting in an aggregate 2.6 million fewer people in the audience, with attendant box office receipt reductions. For 28 percent of the responding schools that loss represented more than 50 percent of their season budget; for another 30 percent of respondents, the loss was between 26 and 50 percent of their budgets.

The Educational Theatre Foundation, the philanthropic arm of EdTA, has established the Thespian Relief Fund which will award grants to help school theatre programs continue despite both their revenue losses and anticipated cuts in school budgets in the 2020-21 school year. More information is available about making donations and applying for grants at ETF Thespian Relief Fund.

2020 EdTA Middle and High School Play Survey Results

Full-Length Musicals

1.The Addams Family (Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice), TRW

2.Mamma Mia! (Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Catherine Johnson), MTI

3.Beauty and the Beast (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, Linda Woolverton), MTI

4.Into the Woods (Stephen Sondheim, James Lapine), MTI

5.The Little Mermaid (Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Glenn Slater, Doug Wright), MTI

6.Seussical(Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Eric Idle), MTI

7. (tie.)Little Shop of Horrors (Howard Ashman, Alan Menken), MTI

7. (tie.)Matilda (Dennis Kelly, Tim Minchin), MTI

9.The Wizard of Oz (various)

10.Cinderella (Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Douglas Carter Beane), Concord Theatricals

Full-Length Plays

1.Clue(Jonathan Lynn, Hunter Foster, Eric Price, Sandy Rustin), Playscripts

2.Almost, Maine(John Cariani), Dramatists Play Service

3.A Midsummer Night’s Dream(William Shakespeare), public domain

4.Peter and the Starcatcher (Wayne Barker, Rick Elice), MTI

5.Radium Girls (D.W. Gregory), Dramatic Publishing

6.12 Angry Jurors (Sherman L. Sergel, Reginald Rose), Dramatic Publishing

7.She Kills Monsters (Qui Nguyen), Concord Theatricals

8.Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic (Matt Cox), Concord Theatricals

9.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Simon Stephens, Mark Haddon), Dramatists Play Service

10.Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare), public domain

Short Plays

1.Check Please (Jonathan Rand), Playscripts

2.10 Ways to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse (Don Zolidis), Playscripts

3.Tracks(Peter Tarsi), Dramatic Publishing

4. (tie.)Check Please: Take 2 (Jonathan Rand), Playscripts

4. (tie.)The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (Don Zolidis), Playscripts

6. (tie.)The Actor’s Nightmare (Christopher Durang), Dramatists Play Service

6. (tie.)Law & Order: Fairy Tale Unit (Jonathan Rand), Playscripts

6. (tie.)The Internet Is Distract – Oh Look a Kitten (Ian McWethy), Playscripts

9.Our Place (Terry Wayne Gabbard), Dramatic Publishing

10. The Lottery (Brainerd Duffield, Shirley Jackson), Dramatic Publishing