Script Spotlight: Middle School Actors

Having a hard time figuring out what show to do with middle school students? Plays for New Audiences is here to help with a list of shows, both on stage and in the classroom, that are great for middle school-aged students! Finding a large show that will challenge kids without getting too complicated is a difficult task, but PNA has plenty of titles to fit the need! Check out these titles to find the perfect show for your middle school.

Akeelah and the Bee

Illustration by Betsy Lehr

By Cheryl L. West
Based on the screenplay by Doug Atchison

Cast: 7 female, 7 male.
Run Time: 2 hours
Akeelah has a crazy passion for words: the more abstruse and labyrinthine, the better. But this gift is almost overwhelmed by the challenge of her daily life in a tough, Chicago neighborhood. Akeelah’s aptitude earns her a spot in the National Spelling Bee, which inspires the people in her neighborhood with her courage and tenacity.

The Boxcar Children

Jonathan Kuhn, Jennifer Sue Johnson, Dennis Alban and Alexis Chamow in The Boxcar Children. Photo by Chris Bennion.

By Barbara Field
Based on the series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Cast: 4 female, 4 male.
Run time: 90 minutes.
Generations of young readers have cherished the spirited Depression-era adventures of The Boxcar Children, and now the Alden children’s story comes to life on stage. Orphaned and in danger of being sent to different foster homes, the four siblings run away and make their home in an abandoned railroad boxcar. Pursued by the authorities and a mysterious stranger, the children discover the rewards and perils of life on the run, as well as the joy of keeping their family together.

Harriet the Spy

By Leslie Brody
Based on the book by Louise Fitzhugh

Cast: 15 female, 10 male.
Run time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Illustration by Jake Herrick

By Jody Davidson
Based on the original novel by Richard and Florence Atwater
Featuring music by Brett Schrier

Cast: 3 female, 5 male, and 15 either. Doubling is possible.
Run time: 90 minutes.
This charming tale touches the heart — with lots of laughs along the way! It is hard enough for Mr. Popper, a simple painter, to support himself and his family. The addition of twelve penguins makes it impossible to make both ends meet — until Mr. Popper has a splendid idea. He will turn the talented penguins into a traveling vaudeville act! And that’s exactly what he does. The entire family will delight in the adventures of Mr. Popper and his “performing” feathered friends.

Sleeping Beauty

Program cover from CTC’s 2005 Production.

By Charles Way

Cast: 9 female, 5 male.
Doubling is possible.
Run time: 1 hour, 39 minutes.
Here comes a bolder, funnier version of one of your favorite tales. Meet one of the more independent, headstrong, in-your-face princesses, Briar Rose (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty). And Gryff, who’s half-dragon and a total smart aleck. There’s Branwen, the really nice witch who tries to outspell the evil Modron. And, of course, Prince Owain, who comes with the standard princely features, minus bravery, talent, and competence. In between the story you know is a deliciously funny and amazing adventure, replete with troublesome fairy folk and a riddle-challenging Spider King.


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