45 Showstopping High School Plays for Your School

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High school plays feature

Everyone loves well-done high school plays. When the actors and director are engaged in the storyline and the blocking is done correctly, a play can deeply impact everyone involved, from the cast and crew to the audience. The struggle is: Which plays are best to perform in high school? There are seemingly endless options for high school plays, and thinking about which one to put on can be overwhelming. That’s why we put together this list of 45 of the best high school plays with a range of genres, plots, and lessons to help make your decision easier.

Large-Cast High School Plays

1. Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland is a beloved classic from every student’s childhood. The script, costumes, and set allow for a very creative and energetic play to take place. With digestible themes and a happy-go-lucky plot, this play is definitely a classic for a large cast of high schoolers.

Cast: 11–20 roles, large ensemble

Licensing: Music Theatre International

2. Peter and the Starcatcher

This is the story of the young orphan who ultimately became Peter Pan. High school audiences will love the familiar names and storyline, and the cast will love the unique plot.

Cast: 12 roles, large ensemble

Licensing: Music Theatre International

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3. Almost, Maine

This work consists of nine short plays that explore the themes of love and loss in the town of Almost, Maine. The play has received critical acclaim and tugs on heartstrings, discussing topics that many have experienced but may not have been able to share publicly. In high school, friendships and other relationships are gained and lost at an accelerated rate. Highlighting this theme in Almost, Maine will definitely resonate with the student body.

Cast: 12–19 roles, large ensemble

Licensing: Dramatists Play Service

4. The Crucible

The Crucible is a play based on the Salem witch trials of 1692. This story is very engaging and discusses a village obsessed with a witch hunt and the tribulations around the event. This classic may be shocking to newer generations of students who may not be educated on the reality of the Salem witch trials.

Cast: 22 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

5. The Jungle Book

Most high school students watched or read The Jungle Book as a child, so it is the perfect nostalgic story to tell. The plot rings true for high schoolers, as at its core it is about Mowgli, a young boy attempting to fit in with others and see where he truly belongs. Although high school students may not literally be in the jungle with wolves, they are attempting to navigate the world, and this story will resonate with them.

Cast: 10–25 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

6. The Outsiders

The Outsiders is a story about two gangs of friends who get into a fight that ends in a disaster that changes their lives. This story is often taught in English class and will be perfect for a high school class who has just finished reading and analyzing the book’s plot.

Cast: 18 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

7. Anne of Green Gables

Every young child should read Anne of Green Gables, and this play brings the book to life. Anne Shirley is a character who must go through the trials of living with a farmer who believed he was receiving a young boy instead of a girl. This story is about family, home, and the concept of love, and it’s a familiar classic.

Cast: 18–39 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

8. Front

Front is set in Blitz-era England and covers struggling individuals and families who must come to terms with the war going on around them. The horrors, tragedies, and losses inherent in war are discussed in emotional ways. This story is educational and tugs on the heartstrings.

Cast: 18 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

9. Mariner

This play celebrates the triumphs and challenges of Christopher Columbus. It’s perfect for a high school audience and explores themes of Columbus’ life, loves, and struggles against authority.

Cast: 16 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

10. Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is a classic whodunit tale. The story has a strong male lead and is perfect to draw in excited audience members, as it follows a clear mystery/thriller in a period piece that allows for fun costumes and sets.

Cast: 20 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

Classic High School Plays

11. Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is the ultimate classic high school play. A familiar story with plenty of room to innovate and make it your own with a unique cast and blocking, the plot is sure to engross the crowd and be tons of fun to put on.

Cast: 18 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

12. Radium Girls

Radium Girls is based on the true story of Grace Fryer attempting to fight in court for the female laborers who were killed by their factory’s radium-based paint. This story is a piece of history and will effectively educate and inspire high school students on American history, combined with an intriguing plot and characters.

Cast: 10 roles, ensemble optional

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

13. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

This classic allows for a cast of actors to shine, combined with opportunities for gorgeous sets and costumes. This is definitely a classic high school play that has been done before but can still shine with some distinctive directing.

Cast: 9 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

14. Sense and Sensibility

Based on the Jane Austen classic, the story follows two sisters who have to look for a new home and deal with the consequences and tragedy of their father’s sudden passing in 18th-century England. This story is familiar and is sure to build emotions in the audience.

Cast: 14 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

15. Macbeth

The familiar Shakespeare play centers on the general Macbeth learning he will become the King of Scotland and the events that occur due to this discovery. This story is filled with shocking twists and deaths and can be shifted to fit a unique cast.

Cast: 10 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

16. A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is a classic and familiar story for your high schools students. The story revolves around Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly and miserable old man who meets the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come in order to become a kinder man. This story is heartwarming and is perfect for the holiday season.

Cast: 5 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

17. Twelfth Night

This is another Shakespeare play that, although familiar, can be transformed depending on the director, cast, and set. It revolves around the classic love triangle trope, combined with twists, turns, and disguises.

Cast: 7 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

18. The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest is about two bachelors who create alter egos to bring excitement into their lives. They meet women and attempt to woo them, and hilarity ensues. This story is filled with irony and is one of the classic high school plays.

Cast: 9 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

19. Animal Farm (Bond)

This is a classic story that many high school English classes touch on, so it will be perfect as one of your next high school plays. The story is filled with satire and political references, disguised as a simpler story about pigs and barnyard animals.

Cast: 7 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

20. Eurydice

This is the story of Orpheus through the eyes of Eurydice herself. She must journey to the underworld after dying on her wedding day. The story is told through contemporary eyes with plot twists and the classic elements of a love story. Audiences will recognize the familiar plot but love the new aspects of the re-imagined classic.

Cast: 7 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

21. Antigone

This is a classic story about a woman having to face a decision between individual action and fate. There are many relatable and educational themes in Antigone that will resonate with high school students, and the story is one of the tried-and-true classic high school plays.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

22. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the play adaptation of a famous novel, often discussed in high school English classes, which makes it one of the perfect high school plays to put on. The play follows life in a mental institution while still including humor and candor along with interesting characters.

Cast: 17 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

Unique High School Plays

23. She Kills Monsters

She Kills Monsters is a newer play about a Dungeons and Dragons–loving girl who goes through a great fairy-tale adventure while simultaneously dealing with the loss of her sister. This story is incredibly engaging and exciting, with opportunities for fun props and fight scenes. Your students are sure to love it!

Cast: 9 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

24. Middletown

This play is about Mary Swanson moving to Middletown, eager to enjoy the neighborly bonds of the new small town. But Mary discovers the truth behind the facade and must deal with large themes such as the need for love and forgiveness, and the meaning of life itself. This story is deeply moving and funny and will resonate with your students.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

25. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This play is about a teenage boy who is falsely accused of killing a neighbor’s dog. The boy must investigate the crime himself and clear his name. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time a very exciting play with twists and turns, and it has great and intense roles for skilled actors.

Cast: 10 roles

Licensing: Dramatists Play Service

Dramatic Publishing

26. Mockingbird

Mockingbird is about Caitlin, an 11-year-old girl on the autism spectrum. Caitlin is faced with the unthinkable: a mass shooting in which her brother passes away. Caitlin must deal with the tragic loss, and the audience follows her and her attempts to understand and work her way through her life. This story is incredibly educating and eye-opening, as well as tear-jerking.

Cast: 6 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

27. Girls in the Boat

Girls in the Boat is inspired by true stories of the U.S. Women’s Olympic rowing team. This play follows a group of fiery women who actively fight prejudice in order to compete in the previously male-dominated sport of rowing. It’s inspiring and perfect to show to an audience of high school students for its positive messages.

Cast: 11 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

28. Left to Our Own Devices

This new play is about an ensemble diving into their individual experiences through navigating the digital world. The play is perfect for the student demographic, who each have their own unique struggles with the Internet, as each member of the audience will have a personal connection in some manner.

Cast: 11 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

29. A Murder Is Announced

This is the story of a murder and the subsequent attempt to solve the murder. The story is set in the 1950s, which allows for fun costuming and set design. The play is filled with twists and turns and dramatic confrontations, and it’s tons of fun to perform as well as watch.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

30. Al’s Business Cards

This story is a contemporary tale of a man who accidentally gets his business cards swapped with a real-estate agent, which subsequently starts a chain reaction that ruins his life. The play is a comedy that is unfamiliar to most audiences, so it will be extra fun to make your own.

Cast: 5 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

31. And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None follows 10 strangers who are summoned to a remote island, with nothing in common but a wicked past. Quickly, the guests begin to kill one another and reveal their secrets. This is definitely a dark play, but it will keep your audience shocked.

Cast: 11 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

32. Death by Chocolate

When celebrity chef Edith Chiles suddenly dies before the grand opening of her restaurant, the manager must search for clues and sleuth to uncover her murderer. This mystery/thriller is filled with satirical characters and fun, while also being intriguing throughout.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

33. Lost Girl

Lost Girl follows Wendy Darling after she goes to Neverland with Peter Pan and then has to return back to her daily life. This play is perfect for an engaged audience who knows the backstory of Peter Pan but wants a more contemporary take on the characters and setting.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

34. Spider’s Web

Spider’s Web is a comedy-thriller written by Agatha Christie, separated into three distinct acts with an amazing blend of suspense and humor. The story is complex, involving murder, police, a detective, and a murder mystery. Both the director and the cast can have lots of fun with this plot.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

35. That’s the Spirit

That’s the Spirit is filled with action and suspense. This whodunit involves an illusionist and a crew of “weirdos”—a ventriloquist dummy, a man with x-ray eyes, a walking lampshade, and other unforgettable characters. This is one of the high school plays that is perfect for a diverse, talented cast of students.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

36. Around the World in 80 Days

This play follows adventurer Phileas Fogg on his race to circle the globe in 80 days. However, he is followed the entire way by a detective who believes Fogg is actually a robber on the run. This play is comedic and suspenseful, and the cast can be expanded up to 39 characters and covers all seven continents!

Cast: 6 roles, ensemble

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

37. Launch Day (Love Stories From the Year 2108)

This play follows six couples in a high-tech future society. The challenges these couples face are outrageous and comedic, and the script allows for many hilarious moments for an engaged high school audience.

Cast: 6–10 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

38. The Ghost of Splinter Cove

This play is an adventure story from the imaginations of three young people playing in the basement on a rainy day. Eventually, the story becomes more real than their imaginations and the friends discover secrets about their family that they never thought possible. This play is perfect to unlock high school students’ imagination and creativity.

Cast: 6 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

39. One Stoplight Town

One Stoplight Town is a play about a classic small town that involves a love story, a tale about change, a reuniting, and a lost friendship. This play takes many tropes of the small town and humanizes them with familiar characters and situations that one may face in a one stoplight town. The large ensemble of the play allows for lots of flexibility and opportunity for fun roles.

Cast: 5 roles, 10–20 large ensemble

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

40. Reunited Shorts

Reunited Shorts is six short plays about reunions. These reunions range from awkward to humorous to emotional, and have at least one element of relatability in every short play that someone in the audience will be sure to digest. This play is perfect for a cast of talented high schoolers.

Cast: 12 roles

Licensing: Dramatic Publishing

41. Our Town

Our Town, referred to by Edward Albee as “the greatest American play ever written,” presents the small town of Grover’s Corners in three acts: “Daily Life,” “Love and Marriage,” and “Death and Eternity.” This play opened on Broadway in 1938 and has been beloved for generations.

Cast: 10–20 large ensemble

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

42. The Laramie Project

This is a play that explores the aftermath of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay university student in Laramie, Wyoming. The play is constructed from interviews with Laramie residents, journal entries, and news reports, providing a poignant and multifaceted examination of the community’s response to the hate crime. The play deals with themes of injustice and intolerance, a good learning lesson for a school audience.

Cast: 8 roles

Licensing: Dramatists Play Service

43. The House of Bernarda Alba

The House of Bernarda Alba is a play set in a small Spanish village that focuses on the strict and oppressive rule of Bernarda Alba over her five daughters after the death of her husband. The daughters, yearning for freedom and love, struggle against their mother’s harsh control, leading to secrets, tension, and ultimately tragedy. The play explores themes of repression, desire, and the clash between individual will and societal expectations.

Cast: 13 roles

Licensing: Dramatists Play Service

44. The Glass Menagerie

This play is narrated by Tom, who feels trapped between his obligations to his overbearing mother Amanda and his fragile sister Laura, who finds solace in her collection of glass animals. Their lives are upended when Amanda insists Tom bring home a potential suitor for Laura, leading to revelations that change the family’s dynamics forever.

Cast: 4 roles

Licensing: Concord Theatricals

45. A Doll’s House

This play navigates identity and freedom, telling the story of Nora Helmer, a seemingly happy housewife in 19th-century Norway. As secrets from her past resurface, Nora realizes that her marriage to Torvald is based on deception and control.

Cast: 10 roles

Licensing: Dramatists Play Service

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Also, be sure to check out How To Start a Drama Program at Your School to make sure you have all the right resources!

Engage your cast and audiences with these 45 unique and educational high school plays that everyone is sure to love!