An art outlet is a vital aspect of a growing child’s learning experience. Subscribing to the STEAM method, a learning principle that heavily focuses on developing problem-solving and critical thinking through science, technology, engineering, and math concepts, further affected by art elements.
Creating a safe space for children to be creative and pursue their passions in performing benefits their development in many ways. The performing arts inculcate virtues of discipline, patience, and confidence in unique and fun ways. Studies have found that performative arts have contributed to the development of children’s personalities as well. Children who have taken a liking to the performing arts are highly-adaptable quick thinkers.
Kids who develop skills in singing, dancing, and acting have been found to be four times more likely to achieve academic acclaim compared to non-performing children. This is the reason why curriculums around the globe have adapted stage plays and theatrical performances into their yearly activities. From movie musicals to broadway adaptations, schools, starting from preschool to high school levels, have encouraged participation in performative activities and theatrical ventures.
Choosing the Right Musical for Kids to Perform
The theatrical or performative pieces that people can execute differ from level to level. When looking for the perfect musical for your kids to perform, there are some things that you must constantly keep in mind. Shows at the high school or community theater stages, after all, are quite different from what you expect children to perform.
The first thing to consider is the time or overall length of the show. Most full-length theatrical pieces last for more or less three hours or even more. Needless to say, this is more than what kids can usually handle. Most times, kids can handle musicals that last 30 minutes or an hour at most.
One more thing to consider is that when preparing for productions, it’s important to find a role for everyone. Take into consideration a way to showcase the talents of all the students while thinking about their abilities. Availability of roles must be wide and do your best to avoid choices that have only a couple of large lead roles and opt for pieces with a lot of small roles that give all the kids an opportunity to take part. It is recommended that you choose pieces with large chorus numbers with chances for fun choreography and props to yield a variety of facets in which children can choose to shine.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Jack and the Beanstalk is a classic tale of a young child and a family struck by poverty. His life, however, changes when he chances upon a man with magical beanstalk that sprouts giant vines that rise up to the heavens.
This would be an excellent piece to play as the main character doesn’t necessarily have to be a boy. The choice is up to you whether or not to make the protagonist a little boy or a little girl.
The piece is about 45-55 minutes long and a substantial project that will take minimal accommodation for teaching schedules. The costumes are easily craftable and are not too complex to set up. The costumes are quite common as well and will need minimal customization that would break your budget.
It may come as a surprise to some but Jack and the Beanstalk actually has an impressive musical soundtrack and the songs are easily learnable for children to perform. They can also be directed with ease so that performers can shine as bright as possible.
This inspiring and uplifting musical based on history is a kind and respectful telling of a moment in history. It offers a reasonable volume of roles for casts and can easily be adapted for a smaller or bigger cast. If you feel like you need more or fewer members in the cast, you can add or remove as many roles as you like. This performance also utilizes kind language and vocabulary, making it perfect for schools, churches, and community groups.
The Harriet Tubman Musical also has quality music that audiences can sing along to like All the Pretty Horses, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd, Bound for the Promised Land, ‘Tis a Gift to be Simple, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Wade in the Water, Amazing Grace and many more. Should you opt for an easier performance, you also have the choice to play the CD and sing. There is also sheet music available online for a live piano/organ player.
You can also use a choir and you will be able to showcase their singing! As this is a flexible musical piece, you may still add songs if it suits your preferences. You may eliminate the music altogether if you wish to present a non-musical play and it would still be a valuable experience for its morals and historical lessons.
There are many opportunities to shine for all the kids as well. Every performer plays an important role as even storytellers are involved throughout. There is a need for preachers who involve the audience through song and a ‘call and response’ participation. Even smaller roles have names and vital speeches and actions. The piece simply offers the versatility to be able to provide suggestions to add scenes and characters.
The Music Man
One of the classics, the music man is an industry legend that had a hand in shaping the early days of Broadway. The introduction of this piece to young enthusiasts is vital – especially to those who intend to pursue musical theater moving forward.
Involving many classic genres, its toe-tapping playlist is a warm and familiarly romantic that is whimsical, humorously amusing, and in love. The songs in this musical are unforgettable and are timelessly popular. This piece provides a healthy challenge to both director and performers with its complex theatrical elements.
Dr. Seuss is an incredible author legendary for his skill in the written word. His literary creations brought entertainment and lessons. Seussical is a musical that unites Dr. Seuss’ best creations for a musical for the ages. Journey with iconic characters like Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and all of your favorite Dr. Seuss for a musical adventure filled with fun and crazy twists and turns.
With the inclusion of the Whos and the creatures of the Jungle of Nool in the story, just about anyone in the class can find a role in this show. Unsurprisingly, Seussical is arguably the most susceptible to the best creative and colorful costume opportunities among all of the possible musicals that kids can choose to perform.
This musical piece is best for a large class or group to perform as Hairspray can accommodate up to 30 different roles. You simply cannot stop the beat as the script presents a chance for everyone in the class to be able to showcase their talents in a grand and epic way.
With a humorous playlist and a comedic script to match, children and their parents will be enlivened by the extremely positive and bright message that can be mustered from Tracy Turnblad’s wildest dreams come to life.
Annie is in the rarified air of all-time great musicals that have won hearts and recognition among both industry enthusiasts and non-theater folk alike. With classics like “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” children will be given an exciting opportunity to dive into a timeless masterpiece. Thanks to the orphan scenes, there will be plenty of opportunities to shine for everyone and there will be many chances to hone everybody’s acting skills throughout the journey.
The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music has produced some of the finest musical pieces of all time. The cast also gives some flexibility for the roles that the children can play. The Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music are aged between five and 16, giving your casting some flexibility. Due to the renowned playlist that this musical boasts, children, adults, and generations of any age will surely be able to sing along.
Watch how far Moana can go as she embarks on a journey to save her people and their village. As she endeavors to uncover the mysteries behind the ruin seemingly taking shape on their island, she learns more about her people, their culture, and herself.
This modern-day masterpiece from Disney explores a people and culture familiar to few. Its characters and songs have captured the hearts of adults and kids around the globe. This makes Moana an amazing musical adaptation as its hits like “How Far I’ll Go” is a familiar earworm for people of all ages.
“A Whole New World” is easily one of the greatest legacies Disney has ever produced. Let your kids venture to the mystical lands of Agrabah to discover the magic of the genie in the lamp with Aladdin and Jasmine. The costumes and settings are exotic and can provide a stage with exciting aesthetics and designs. Have the children explore magic and love in the sandy paradise of Aladdin.
Mary Poppins is, without a doubt, one of the most recognizable magical characters in history. Her wit and elegance can be brought to life by a musical. One of the highlights of this masterpiece is the nanny’s performance of the hit song, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Beyond the main character, however, there are 25 other roles available for all the children of the class to utilize and embody to put on the performance of a lifetime. There is a chance for everyone to shine.
DreamWorks Madagascar – A Musical Adventure
The beasts of Madagascar are going musical. Heavily inspired and based on the blockbuster movie of the same title, this musical takes on the entertainment and fun value of mischievous dancing animals. The gang’s all there! Have the kids take on the characters of Alex the Lion, Melman the Giraffe, and all the penguins in between. There are 26 captivating roles available for the kids to claim. Follow the gang as they move from one misadventure to the next in their goal of breaking free from the zoo and exploring the world outside the confines of the walls that keep them.
James and the Giant Peach
Giving life to the curious Giant Peach from the book, James and the Giant Peach, this literary masterpiece was given a breath of life as it was adapted as an award-winning musical in the late 90s. Navigate the eccentricities of the story of a boy who rode across the ocean riding a giant peach and enjoy boundless opportunities to explore your and the kids’ creativity. With over 30 roles available, your creativity, resourcefulness, and puppet and costume making are to be stretched to their very limits.
Oliver has been a musical mainstay since 1967 and its tunes have been familiar anthems in theatrical performances ever since. Any theater enthusiast worth their salt would recognize the iconic melodies of “Consider Yourself.” Some parental guidance, however, is recommended as this piece will tackle some sensitive concepts at some point.
This heartwarming and touching tale by Margery Williams has been adapted and customized for children’s performances. The script was particularly created and written to accommodate a large cast. It was designed to allow easy lines and simple songs. Ideal for the holiday season, ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ will render both kids and their families warm and inspired.
West Side Story
The West Side Story is a modern telling of Romeo and Juliet. Since taking broadway by storm in 1957, the hitmaker has entranced both audiences and aspiring performers with its thrilling combination of superb writing and music scoring.
The matters of empathy and sensitivity that present themselves through the plot might be a bit mature for younger children but kids in the latter elementary levels may very well grasp its message.
The Nutcracker is one of the greatest theatrical and musical pieces of all time. Borne from the genius of the great Tchaikovsky, the ballet provides an electrifying story of love and courage that children can learn from. The setting and costumes can be an exciting venture as well, as the story centers around a beautiful setting.
The Little Mermaid
In the magical city of Atlantis, the beautiful Ariel, Mermaid Princess and daughter of King Triton, longs to become human and experience life on land. Her fortune begins to take unexpected turns when she stumbles upon a dreadful shipwreck where a prince is tossed into the sea.
Using her beautiful voice, she calms the prince – making him fall in love with her at the same time. Desperate to meet with the man again, she defies the mighty Sea King and makes a pact with the Sea Witch Odessa, trading her voice for a pair of legs that she can use to walk the earth.
The Sleeping Beauty
When the beautiful Princess Aurora was born, a celebration reigned throughout the land. Everybody was happy until the Wicked Fairy and her group of dastardly ghouls cast their evil spell. Under the protection of the good fairies, joyful song and dance prevail as Aurora grows into a lovely young maiden. Living with the fairies and the lovable forest animals, she meets the handsome prince charming. But upon her 16th birthday, Aurora pricks her finger on a cursed spinning wheel and falls asleep and never to wake again – or will she?
Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure, Treasure Island is adapted as a musical just for kids! It’s time to shout “Ahoy, maties!” and embrace the jolly pirate spirit. Designed to be a fun new musical play to engage every child in your cast, the story was made easy and the script was restructured to make it easier for kids to channel their inner pirates! This conventionalized version is full of iconic pirate characters including Long John Silver and his famous parrot!
We Are the Dream
If your goal as educators or fellowship leaders is to look for a piece that educates and touches hearts, this musical piece is a great option for both a history lesson and a celebration of an entire heritage.
Recognized as one of the good plays for kids to perform, the story of the greatest statesmen to grace the United States, Martin Luther King Jr., is written for performances in schools and churches.
The story is in the racially harsh milieu of 1968. A classroom in the rural South is busy preparing for an important visitor. Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. arrived and little did they know that by week’s end the hero of civil rights in front of them will be gone forever.
The dialogues in the piece are deemed appropriate for children. Speeches and language are appropriated for child performers aged six to twelve.
The cast can also reach a flexible cast of up to 25 or more roles for the children. Thanks to the versatile story, you can still add more roles or cut corners however you wish. Every role in this piece has a name and at least three spoken lines.