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April 13, 2016

Top 10 Smaller Musicals for Community Theaters


It doesn’t take a cast of 20 or more to create a show-stopping production; the same can be found in smaller musicals. Limited spaces or smaller budgets don’t have to limit the power to create impressive musical theatre. Smaller theatre atmospheres allow for new opportunities to captivate and entertain audiences through innovative creativity. Even ensemble numbers can take on an intimate and personal feel in smaller spaces.

We’ve created a list of 10 musicals featuring smaller casts that fit perfectly on small stages or more intimate venues. Some are heartbreaking and some are hilarious, but all of these shows are sure to bring a new and personal energy to musical theatre!

Adding Machine: A Musical by Elmer Rice, Joshua Schmidt, Jason Loewith
Darkly comic and heartbreakingly beautiful, this musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s incendiary 1923 play tells the story of Mr. Zero, who after 25 years of service to his company is replaced by a mechanical adding machine. In a vengeful rage, he murders his boss. An eclectic score gives passionate and memorable voice to this stylish and stylized show, which follows Zero’s journey to the afterlife in the Elysian Fields where he is met with one last chance for romance and redemption. 5m, 4f

Merrily We Dance and Sing by Billy Van Zandt, Jane Milmore, Ed Alton
Get ready for a slapstick, madcap musical farce! While a small-town community theater performs an original operetta The Naughty Boy, an escaped serial killer gets loose in the theater – eventually hiding from the local police on the stage – which forces the actors to improvise new plot lines, rewrite dialogue, and take the opportunity to invent their own happy endings. Imagine “Gilbert & Sullivan Meet the Marx Brothers,” including a near-impossible tongue twister show stopper titled, “It’s All in the Chase.” 11m, 4f

Nunsense by Dan Goggin
When some of the Little Sisters of Hoboken are accidentally poisoned by the convent cook, Sister Julia (Child of God), the remaining nuns must put on a fundraiser to raise money to bury their deceased sisters. What audiences get is a hilarious variety show where these sisters parade their talents with jokes, music, and even an audience quiz! Updated with new jokes, additional lyrics, two new arrangements and a brand new song, this zany musical is sure to have audiences rolling in the aisles! 5f

Romance/Romance by Barry Harman, Keith Herrmann
Two one act musicals take varied looks at romance seekers. The first is a delightful romp through the sexual ennui of turn of the century Vienna based on Schnitzler’s tale The Little Comedy. Act 2 is a modern look at affection and disaffection in a two couple summer house in the Hamptons based on the Jules Renard play Summer Share. It’s a perfect change from the modern mega musical! 2m, 2f

Trey Parker’s Cannibal the Musical by Trey Parker
This show tells the true story of the only person ever convicted of cannibalism in America – Alfred Packer. The sole survivor of an ill-fated trip to the Colorado Territory, he tells his side of the harrowing tale to news reporter Polly Pry as he awaits his execution. And his story goes like this: While searching for gold and love in the Colorado Territory, he and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs! 10m, 2f

See Rock City and Other Destinations by Adam Mathias, Brad Alexander
A contemporary musical about connections missed and made at tourist destinations across America. Wanderers, romantics, and even a bride-to-be each encounter unexpected struggles and adventures in various locations across the country. With a book full of humor and humanity, and a score that incorporates pop, rock, folk and more, each story builds on the last to create a vivid travelogue of Americans learning to overcome their fears and expectations in order to connect. 4m, 3f

35mm: A Musical Exhibition by Ryan Scott Oliver, Matthew Murphy
A picture is worth 1,000 words — what about a song? Can a picture inspire a song or fifteen? This musical is a thought-provoking, soul-searching exploration of two mediums fused together as one; an intricately woven collection of stories told through song. Each photo creates a unique musical number, envisioning moments frozen in time, glimmers of a life unfolding, or glimpses of something happening. A stunning new multimedia musical which explores a groundbreaking new concept in musical theatre. 3m, 2f

Melancholy Play: a chamber musical by Sarah Ruhl, Todd Almond
In this chamber musical version of Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play, Tilly’s melancholy is of an exquisite quality. She turns her melancholy into a sexy thing, and every stranger she meets falls in love with her. One day, inexplicably, Tilly becomes happy, and wreaks havoc on the lives of her paramours. Frances, Tilly’s hairdresser, becomes so melancholy that she turns into an almond. It is up to Tilly to get her back. 3m, 3f

Evil Dead: The Musical by Christopher Bond, Frank Cipolla, Melissa Morris, George Reinblatt
Based on Sam Raimi’s 80s cult classic films, this musical tells the tale of 5 college kids who travel to a cabin in the woods and accidentally unleash an evil force. And although it may sound like a horror, it’s not! The songs are hilariously campy and the show is bursting with more farce than a Monty Python skit. This show unearths the old familiar story: boy and friends take a weekend getaway at abandoned cabin, boy expects to get lucky, boy unleashes ancient evil spirit, friends turn into Candarian Demons, boy fights until dawn to survive. As musical mayhem descends upon this sleepover in the woods, “camp” takes on a whole new meaning. 5m, 3f

Ruthless! by Marvin Laird, Joel Paley
Eight-year-old Tina Denmark knows she was born to play Pippi Longstocking, and she will do anything to win the part in her school musical. Anything includes murdering the leading lady! This aggressively outrageous musical hit is a smart and funny send up of every Broadway brat and loaded with campy wit and charm. 1m, 6f

Photo: The 2012 cast of 35mm: A Musical Exhibition. Credit: Matthew Murphy