For a lot of communities around the U.S., summer is the time to get together for worthwhile endeavors. One awesome activity that you can get your hands on as a community is staging a summer musical.
It can be a lot of work, but it’s a good way to forge camaraderie among neighbors. Furthermore, it’s going to be really fun to see all your hard work come to fruition, and that includes being able to watch family and friends perform on stage!
If your community has been planning to do a stage production for quite some time but you haven’t really made up your mind in terms of the title that you’re going to perform, don’t fret. It’s actually a good thing that both New York’s Broadway and London’s West End theater meccas have, over the years, produced extensive repertoires of musicals that you can choose from.
These titles are set in different times and places, so you also have the option of choosing a musical based on the kind of set pieces, costumes, and other production materials that will fit your budget and timeline. To make things easier and expenses lighter, you can even consider renting stage backdrops and going DIY when it comes to creating props and other stage elements.
Here are a few title suggestions from the last 7 decades that you might want to consider for your stage production. We start with Oklahoma!, since it’s an old favorite that we think youngsters today should be performing more for their school musicals.
Oklahoma! –Rivalries are a main theme in many musicals, and it couldn’t be more high-spirited than the one in which the cowboys and farmers in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! are engaged in. This is the setting in which the love story of the handsome cowboy Curly and the charming farm girl Laurey unfolds. It’s a romantic tale that has captured the hearts of millions since 1943.
The Lion King – You might not think of The Lion King as a classic, but it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017 and it’s definitely become a veritable classic. The story of the lion prince and his tumultuous journey to kinghood is beloved by many, and its Broadway adaptation featured some of the most spectacular set designs and costumes ever created for theater. If you can produce something inspired by this, it’s going to be really worth your while. Plus, the Circle of Life opening is simply epic!
Guys and Dolls – What better way to welcome summer than by staging the madcap comedy Guys and Dolls, which revolves around the gambler Nathan Detroit and his quest to finance the largest craps game New York has ever seen. He makes a bet with another gambler, Sky Masterson, who will have to pay Nathan $1,000 if Sky finds himself unsuccessful in taking an uptight missionary girl to Cuba for a date! This delightful musical based on Damon Runyon’s short stories won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1951 and the Olivier Award for Best Musical of the Year in 1982.
Bye Bye Birdie – Inspired by the phenomenon of Elvis Presley, Bye Bye Birdie follows the story of rock-and-roll idol Conrad Birdie, who’s being drafted into the U.S. Army. To save the record company from bankruptcy, Conrad’s agent, Albert, concocts a farewell performance in which the Mr. Birdie will be kissing a fan from Sweet Apple, Ohio. This rollicking comedy won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1961.
The Music Man – Another musical that will take your audiences to small town America is The Music Man. The story revolves around the wily conman Harold Hill, who plans to swindle the residents of River City, Iowa, by making them believe that he’s a genius bandleader. He plans to take the townsfolk’s money for orders of instruments and uniforms but River City’s prim and proper librarian and music teacher, Marian Paroo, doesn’t believe him at all. Things only get worse for Harold when he finds himself becoming attached to the townspeople and falling madly in love with Marian. This hit Broadway title took home the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1958.
If you’re still undecided, consider other titles as well, including West End favorites like Mamma Mia! (1999) and more contemporary Broadway hits like Hamilton (2015), Allegiance (2012), and Disaster! (2012). With the right planning and preparation, your community will be able to stage a musical worthy of a standing ovation.