Five of Our Favorite Shows for Young Actors
When working with younger actors, selecting the right show can be tricky. You have to find a production that younger minds can learn and perform, but that still keeps their interest. Furthermore, you want a script that appeals to audiences as well.
Fortunately, there are definitely shows that fit the bill. We tapped our Directors’ Roundtable to get some suggestions on the best theatrical productions for young actors. The shows listed below are just a few of the great options for schools and theater groups looking to advance the theatrical experience of the nation’s youth.
ANNIE is a classic, end of story. Everyone can identify with the trials and tribulations of Annie, a young orphan on a mission to make a life for herself. The songs are timeless and identifiable and the story itself appeals to every age group. With Junior and Kids versions available, ANNIE can be performed by actors of all skill levels. Furthermore, the show requires only moderate costumes and scenery. This makes for a production that is not only attainable, but also affordable. Currently, licensing is available from MTI. You can check availability for Annie, Annie Jr. and Annie Kids through their website.
ALADDIN is full of colorful characters and sought-after roles, providing opportunities for your entire class or theatre group. The show can incorporate elaborate costumes and set pieces. However, it can easily be put on with a more modest budget as well. Two versions of the Disney show are available from MTI. This allows you to accommodate the skill level of your cast. There’s even a third version designed for groups who want to take a multilingual approach to this popular show. You can check availability of these versions through MTI: Aladdin Jr., Aladdin Kids, Aladdin Dual Language Edition.
Alternately, if you want to stick to the story’s roots, you can opt to put on the original version. Many people aren’t aware that the original ALADDIN was set in China and had two genies! The original version requires less scenery and fewer actors, but would be best for high school-aged actors with a couple of shows under their belts. Check out the original Aladdin Prince Street Player’s Version.
The sock hops, soda fountains, and young love that is central to Grease appeal to both performers and audiences alike. On top of that, younger actors will enjoy the fun, pop culture-based musical numbers. Costumes are readily available and affordable. Additonally, you have plenty of backdrop options that will turn your stage into 1950’s America. As for set pieces, much of the show is set at school. If your group is school-based, as many theatre groups for young actors are, look around your school for great set pieces.
High school actors can manage the full version of the show. However, there is a School Version of the script available as well. Licensing in the United States and Canada is provided by Samuel French. (Find the full version here and the School Edition here.) If you are located outside of the United States or Canada, you can find licensing from Theatrical Rights Worldwide for both the full version and the School Edition.
LES MISERABLES has graced professional stages worldwide and established itself as a theatrical mainstay. That’s not to say that this story of redemption can’t be performed by younger actors. Yes, LES MIS is more vocally demanding than other productions, but that challenge can bring the best out of your young cast. High school-aged actors with a good amount of experience can handle the full version. For younger casts, consider the School Edition, which reduces the show’s difficulty level. The School Edition is fully approved by the authors of LES MIS and still includes the most popular musical numbers. If you do choose the School Edition, you can reduce the show length and the amount of scenery. These changes mean a more attainable show for younger casts and tech crews.
Allowing young actors to participate in a production that resonates on and off Broadway is a great way to integrate them into the theatre community. They’ll love that even the largest scale productions are within their reach. You can investigate licensing and availability for both the full version and the School Edition of LES MISERABLES through Music Theater International.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
THE WIZARD OF OZ is one of those shows that everyone loves. Your young actors will already be familiar with the story line and songs. Furthermore, your audience will be more than willing to turn out for this classic. There are plenty of roles available and they accommodate all skill levels, so you can be sure that everyone will have an opportunity to take the stage. This is definitely one of the most popular shows that you can choose. It’s an especially great choice for school-age actors who are new to the stage.
There are two versions of the full-scale show available, depending upon your capabilities. There is also a Young Performers Edition, which is designed for elementary and middle school-aged actors. Licensing is available from Tams Witmark. Check out the full versions, or the Young Performers Edition on their website.
We have an enormous amount of respect and appreciation for those who help the next generation to learn the craft of theatre. Helping young performers develop acting and vocal skills is personally rewarding, but it also ensure that theatre stays alive for generations to come. We hope that you have found these show suggestions useful. Our Directors Roundtable has had great experiences executing these scripts with younger actors. (And even with limited budgets.)
These are just a handful of possible show selections for young performers. We look forward to keeping the discussion going with your comments and suggestions in the near future!