Our 3rd most-read article of 2023.

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Originally published April 18, 2023.

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Grease: You attended high school in the days before overattentive school boards.

Fiddler on the Roof: You still feel a little guilty for not displaying a menorah in your home, even though you are Presbyterian. You also catch yourself expressing strong, yet unearned, opinions about bagels.

Bye Bye Birdie: You occasionally long for the moral simplicity of the 1950s, a decade that you missed by two generations and in which you would not have had any rights.

Chicago: Fishnet stockings still make your stomach clench.

Godspell: You went to a tiny Christian school that insisted on calling itself an “academy,” and while you no longer believe most of what you learned there, you’re inordinately proud that you can still perform Judas’s part in “All for the Best.” At tempo.

Oklahoma: In your mid-thirties, you suddenly realized that Curly was trying to provoke Judd into killing himself, not to mention what Ado Annie couldn’t say no to, and whoa, how was this a beloved high school musical?

The King and I: The photos of you in costume for the chorus are the reason you never let anyone look at your senior yearbook.

Hello, Dolly: Look, sure, Heather Gordon was a talented kid, but it’s not as if Heather Gordon became a star, okay? Heather Gordon is not Bette Midler, for god’s sake. She’s currently an insurance actuary in Dormont. So maybe your high school musical director didn’t have to choose a musical based solely on the astounding talent that apparently was Heather Gordon? Maybe at least one other senior that year also had a pretty good voice too and deserved more than two lines in their final musical, having risen from playing a line-less orphan in the middle school production of Annie? Since the show didn’t end up fast-tracking Heather Gordon to the titular role in the latest Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly after all? Just a thought.

Into the Woods: No one enjoys hiking or picnicking with you, because you will not stop singing that goddamn opening number.

Little Shop of Horrors: You, or someone you knew, did a passable Steve Martin imitation.

Passion: Your high school musical director had aspirations.

Sweeney Todd: Your high school musical director had issues.

Sondheim on Sondheim: Many of you could sing. A few of you could act. No one could dance.

Seussical: None of you could sing, dance, or act, but you had a talented costume designer.

The Wizard of Oz: With no discernable talent on- or off-stage, your only hope was audience nostalgia. And that worked just fine.

The Sound of Music: You went to a school where the girls did the musical, and the boys did anything other than the musical, except for a couple of football players who were coaxed into participating by their girlfriends, and one astoundingly talented exchange student from Barcelona, who devastated everyone with his searingly intense Captain Von Trapp before being summoned home unexpectedly because of a family ski accident mid-year, never to be heard from again.

1776: The No Child Left Behind funding your school received meant that your show had to tie to the Common Core Standards, but you went to high school before Hamilton existed.

Guys and Dolls: Your mom spent so much time and effort making your zoot suit that you also had to wear it to your confirmation, prom, and graduation.

Phantom (by Maury Yeston): It’s still a recurrent feature of your therapy, how often you had to explain to your father that while it was a Phantom of the opera it was not that Phantom of the Opera, and that is why he didn’t recognize “Music of the Night.”

The Music Man: Even now, decades later, you sometimes startle awake at night convinced that you have messed up the counter-harmony for “Pick A-Little, Talk A-Little”/ “Goodnight, Ladies” and ruined the show.

Hair :You and your peers were inadequately parented.

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Read an interview with author Shannon Reed about writing this piece over on our Patreon page.