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Top 12 Musicals for Middle School

If you have ever tried to select and perform a musical for middle school children, you will know some of the problems. You might think it’s easy just to choose something great. But, finding good musicals for middle school students that are realistic to take on will require some thought.


What It Takes to Put on a Musical in Middle School

Some of the things to consider are:

  • Cast size.
  • Budget.
  • Are there stage sets? If not, can you afford or build them?
  • Have you got enough good singers?
  • Have you got competent musicians as required?
  • If there is extensive make-up for actors required, do you have that skill in-house?

And there are plenty more. I know, I have been there… twice. But those are the practical things to consider. There are other management issues to be aware of for your school production.

  • Is the show you are planning to put on suitable for children?
  • Will parents find it acceptable?
  • Can you create the sets and decor you might need?
  • Will school authorities find it suitable?
  • Are your stage and working areas large enough to accommodate a large cast at the same time?
  • Will the community be excited about it and buy tickets?


Musical theater can be magic and a magical experience for everyone. Sometimes, one of the challenges you may have is keeping everyone occupied and feeling a part of the production. It is very easy for the shy and quieter members of the group to become sidelined.

And, not everyone will be in the on-stage cast. Finding jobs to keep everybody involved and feeling like they are contributing is also a challenge at times.

What Sort Of Musical?

There are musicals, and then there are musicals. Some musicals, like many we will look at here, are more musical plays than full-blown musicals. The interpretation and definition of what a musical is will vary depending on who is judging it.

Some will argue that a musical should be music and songs all the way through, including dialogue. Similar to opera. These days that is a rather outdated view. Productions like “Grease” are plays with the songs delivering the important dialogue. That is fine, in my opinion, and still constitutes a musical.

So let’s make a start. Are you going to be brave and adventurous and try something spectacular? Or, are you going for the slightly easier route for your production? I say slightly because there is no easy route; they all come with a stack of hard work by all. Let’s start with…

Beauty And The Beast

Cast: 12 plus a large supporting cast.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)(Theatrical Version) 

Licensing by Music Theater International

This is easily one of the most popular musicals of the last few years. Most will know the story, and that’s a big reason why there won’t be many empty seats.

It has a large cast, and you can make that cast almost as large as you like. There are plenty of opportunities for non-speaking support roles.

Showcase student singers

A big opportunity for the best singers, but how you present the music will take some thought. If there is a very good pianist involved, that might be all you need. 

But you can supplement the piano with other instruments, some straight from a keyboard with strings, rhythms, etc. That gives you plenty of scope to be as adventurous as you choose.

Bugsy Malone

Cast: 30+

Bugsy Malone 

Licensing by Warner Chappell

The 1976 musical with music by Paul Williams is one of those productions that is great fun for everyone. Set during the prohibition era in American history, there is plenty of shooting from Dandy Dan’s “Splurge” guns. The opposition, “Fat Sam’s Gang,” still uses pies as their prime weapon.

These two gangs carry on the rivalry until Bugsy Malone, an ex-boxer, joins up with Fat Sam to give Dandy Dan “what for.” Splurge guns, custard pies, and plenty of flying cream make this a lot of fun. Make sure you assign some cleaners to help out at the end of each performance; you’ll need them.

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

Cast: 20+

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story 1989 Original London Cast 

This is a musical and a subject that will need no introduction. It covers that brief period of two years from when “That’ll Be The Day” announced his arrival as a major musical act. 

The focus of the performance and the critical part is the final concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, before they boarded the plane.

The show features twenty of his greatest hits and is a rocking and rolling feast of music and energy. There is no doubt this is a favorite musical for all ages. We never get tired of seeing it. And, perhaps more importantly, hearing it. And there lies a potential problem.

The Music

You cannot avoid the issue that the music is probably the most important part. You will need some musicians among the cast that can reproduce the sound of the band in a “live” situation.

Guitar, bass, and drums will do, and it doesn’t need to be a double bass as Buddy’s was early on. Electric bass will do, although a double bass would give it authenticity visually. Buddy’s songs were very simple, so it won’t be difficult for musicians of a reasonable level.

The Clincher

What will clinch whether you can do this musical is your male lead figure. They have to play guitar, and they need to be able to wear those thick horn-rimmed glasses. 

But, critically, they have to be able to sing the songs reasonably close in style to the originals. If you have all that within your middle school theater group, then you are on to a winner.

Fiddler On The Roof

Cast: 14+

Topol in Fiddler on the Roof [ Original London Cast LP Vinyl 1967 ] 

Licensing by Music Theater International

A great favorite that is both humorous but also with a social comment to make. The musical first came out in 1964, and a film followed in 1971.

It involves some great songs and some simple dance routines, and a few laughs as well. It does need a couple of strong personalities with good acting skills in the lead parts. But, it gives you plenty of options in the number of on-stage cast members you use.

Peter Pan

Cast: Flexible cast of 26

Peter Pan 

Licensing by ITM shows

This is a slightly amended version of the story created by the Scottish Novelist JM Barrie. It is a timeless tale of a mischievous, flying, fictional boy who never grows up. His childhood is never-ending as he leads the “Lost Boys” through adventures in Neverland.

They encounter pirates, fairies, mermaids, Native Americans, and sometimes just ordinary children. The story has developed a character and status all of its own and is one of the most loved musicals for children.

The Gangs All Here

This version uses all original music, and all the characters you would expect to see are included. Princess Tiger Lily with her tribe, and Captain Hook and his pirates make this an excellent evening’s entertainment.

It has been made as easy to produce as possible. Simple staging and sets, and no flying through the air, which will be a relief to whoever plays Peter. 

School of Rock

Cast: 26+

School of Rock – The Musical Original Cast Recording 

You might stare at this in disbelief. And, of course, you will need to be very brave to attempt it. But it is a great, funny story with some good music. Most of all, the kids are going to love doing it. And, if you have a cast that is visibly having fun, the audience will as well.

As with “The Buddy Holly Story,” you will need a few competent musicians. That can’t be avoided as it is an essential part of the story. But you can make the music far easier than it was in the film with some creative editing.

Uncomplicated Stage Sets

The stage sets should be easy. Much of the musical setting is in the classroom, so that is an easy one. The other significant staging is the concert. You have the audience in their seats already there, ready and waiting. 

You might want to give some consideration to whether your ‘teacher’ will launch him or herself into the crowd towards the end of the song, though. It will take a reasonable cast size, but that is usually a good thing as everyone gets included.

Mamma Mia

Cast: 13 (6 lead female parts and three male, plus a large ensemble).

Mamma Mia! – The Musical 

Licensing by Music Theater International

If you need to find a middle school musical with a large ensemble cast, this will give you that. That is another box ticked on your extensive list of ‘things to do.’ It is also going to give some members of the group to take on important roles. You will need six leading females and three males.

This is a musical, like some others, that won’t take much to sell the tickets. And, there aren’t many musicals around with a musical content like this one. All you have to do is mention the name “ABBA.” Then, you are immediately already in the realms of some of the greatest pop music ever produced.

Great music, a lighthearted story with easy to create settings. Truly one of the greatest musicals for middle school productions.

The Real Story Of Little Red Riding Hood

Cast: Flexible cast of 10

The Real Story of Little Red Riding Hood 

An interesting slant on the well-known story of Little Red Riding Hood. This is a view taken through the eyes of the Wolf, who sees things quite differently.

The Wolf is not happy. For years he has been misrepresented and much-maligned as people took the side of the little girl with the red hood. However, he is going to set the record straight, and he is going to tell everyone what really happened.

It’s lots of fun with plenty of good original songs. And just possibly a message that there are always two sides to every story.

The Sound of Music

Cast: 11 major roles, of which seven are children plus a supporting ensemble.

The Sound Of Music (Original Soundtrack Recording) 

Licensing by Concord Theatricals

Is this the most famous musical of all time? Possibly it is. Rodgers and Hammerstein came up with a masterpiece with this one. It has certainly got everything that you will need for a successful middle school performance.

The cast list can be extensive if you wish. And, the required sets can be created with a bit of ‘license.’ Once again, towards the end of the production, there is a scene involving the audience, which is always a plus in productions.

Based On A True Story

It is based on a true story set in 1938 Salzburg in Austria. But, contrary to some, it is not actually correct. To give one example, the Von Trapps flee after the concert and cross the mountains overnight into Switzerland. 


That is an elementary school geographical mistake. If they had crossed the Alps from Salzburg, they would have gone into Nazi Germany. Not a good idea. Switzerland is 200 miles away. Someone in Hollywood should have paid more attention to their geography when they were in school.

Nevertheless, it is a heart-warming story with memorable music and a sure-fire winner with parents, and with the audience in general. Tickets for productions like this usually sell themselves.

Grease the Musical

Cast: 17 major roles with a large ensemble support


Licensing by Concord Theatricals

Engaging your kids in performing a musical can be a challenging task. You will need something that fires up their imagination. This might be the one to do that. If you want a musical about high school, then you are in the right place.

It Asks Questions

It is great fun, but it also carries a message and asks a serious question in its storyline. That might be a useful consideration for the age of students you are dealing with.

Yes, it is fun, with great music, but it also addresses the problems or relationships between young people. Is it ever wise to change who you are just to please somebody else? Hmm… maybe not Sandy.

Of course, you don’t need to focus on that as it is a great end to a show. But the question is there. We all go through life reaping the rewards of our actions. So, that’s something for the director to demonstrate and the young people to consider.

West Side Story

Cast: 10 major roles with a large supporting ensemble

West Side Story 

Licensing by Music Theater International

Bernstein’s music and Sondheim’s script made this one of the greatest musicals of all time. It is, in actuality, William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” but set in the modern-day. And it is a story that resonates with young people.

To perform this musical takes a good cast with plenty of vocal and dance skills. Thankfully, the sets are easy and can be just painted backdrops. With stunning music and a powerful message, it is another musical that will sell itself.


Cast: 21+ (18 males and 3 females plus supporting cast).


Licensing by Music Theater International

Let’s complete our look at musicals for middle school with one that some would say is the greatest musical ever written. Hard to disagree with that. Lionel Bart’s ‘Oliver’ is a masterpiece in every way.

Set in Victorian London, it is based on the 1838 novel “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. It is full of great music but also portrays tragedy. With songs like “As Long As He Needs Me’, and plenty of others, it captures the audience and holds them.

But it also has great fun songs like “Food, Glorious Food” and “Consider Yourself.” When it was made into a film, it won six academy awards.

Not hard to pull off

You will need little to create the sets, other than some dark old cellar-like sets and street scenes. These can be largely backdrops with imaginative lighting. But, you will need some great singers and actors.

If you are looking for a great musical that will pack out your auditorium, then this will be the one. 

Looking for Music Children Will Enjoy?

We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed features on Fun Music Activities For KidsFunny Songs to Sing with Kids, the Best Sing-Along SongsPerfect Musicals for Small Casts, and Folk Songs Every Kid Should Know for more great musical information and ideas.

Also, up-and-coming musicians may enjoy our in-depth reviews of the Best Student Violins, the Best Student Flute, the Best Student Trumpets, the Best Beginner Saxophones, the Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners, and the Best Digital Pianos For Beginners you can buy in 2023.

Musicals For Middle School – Final Thoughts

Producing musicals for that age group is such great fun. Of course, you will find those who struggle a bit. For them, it is a learning curve and character builder. And, you will find those that excel. They will learn and practice skills that they will use in later life.

You will need permission to perform them, which will mean contacting the relevant licensing authority. They are usually only too pleased to help and give you access to all you need for scripts, music, etc. But above all, they are great fun for everyone. A headache at times, but they are worth the effort.

Until next time, have fun, and may the show go on.

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About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

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