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The school play is, in theory, a wonderful opportunity for pupils to experience first-hand the skill of the classic dramatist. In practice, however, it's a golden opportunity to get your own back on the boring old bloke for writing the thing in the first place!—Peter Corey, Coping with School
Amateur theater productions are the most realistic excuse to put characters in unusual costumes. If the play has any romantic overtones at all, the most important casting will not be arbitrary. For that matter, even if the play has no romantic overtones, the most important casting will not be arbitrary. Usually either people will get parts in the play that match their roles in the larger show, or this will be inverted and they will get parts that are horrible matches. The most hapless character will likely play an inanimate object.
In High School sitcoms, the play is usually Romeo and Juliet, with the main characters cast in the lead roles. This is especially likely in a She Is Not My Girlfriend situation. The balcony scene is always shown, and the specific line "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" is always uttered. (Expect the writers not to realize that "wherefore" means "why" and not "where".) Once in a while, the main plot is a less-lethal parallel of the tragedy of the play. All this is probably because the general public knows only a handful of actual plays. Also, Shakespeare plays are public domain and therefore are free to show. The plot of these episodes usually revolves around the characters struggling to memorize their lines, trying to maneuver themselves into the lead roles, complaining/boasting about the roles they did get, or working up the confidence for a kiss scene. Expect a rivalry between the heroine and the Alpha Bitch for the lead role opposite the Hot Guy, and the latter to lock the former in a closet if the former wins.
A School Play featuring younger children will most likely be the Nativity. Common tropes include a central character being cast as a Bit Character like "third shepherd" or, worse, an inanimate object, and resent the fact that the Alpha Bitch and The Ace got the starring roles as always. The Cheerful Child may get a solo speech at some point which will leave the audience overcome with Cuteness Overload. Parents may have to make the costume themselves, so expect shoddy Rummage Sale Rejects if Mum does it and mortifying awfulness if it's left up to Dad. The kids will stumble through their lines awkwardly, and at least one will either (a) cry, (b) wet themselves, or (c) throw up.
Often a play (school or otherwise) will be such a disaster that the audience, usually including an important patron or theatre critic, will mistake it for a comedy, resulting in an unexpected success. If the badness is intentional in an attempt to get (back) at something, you may end up with Springtime for Hitler.
Such a plot can also involve a major character developing stage fright, and the theme of the episode is overcoming their fears so they don't let the audience down. Expect any boys ages `11-15 to balk at the idea of wearing tights for a Shakespeare play or production of Robin Hood.
An episode of a show with a school play often will contain behavior on the part of the actors that will be particularly aggravating to actual high school performers, or at least those in drama club. Actions such as spontaneously altering lines and blocking, breaking character on stage, and totally abandoning the script will be treated as humorous and acceptable. In reality, any decent director would have the heads of an actor who intentionally did this since it is likely to throw off the rest of the cast and cause great damage to the performance... of course, the joke is that they don't have a decent director.
Also of note is the exceptional budgets and production values that high school plays are often shown to have, usually complete with wired flying harnesses, full period costumes, and actual furniture. If a school in real life has any of these (or especially all three), it is very, very rich; very, very talented; or both.
Anime & Manga
- Rozen Maiden and A Little Snow Fairy Sugar both cast their most boisterous girls as witches.
- Ranma ½ also did a version of Romeo and Juliet with Akane as Juliet and just about every teenaged male in the cast (plus Dirty Old Man Panty Thief Happosai) battling it out on-stage to be Romeo... Until Ranma gave up and went out as an alternate Juliet. Akane, who had always played Romeo in kindergarted or grade-school and desperately wanted to be Juliet, was not amused.
- Love Hina did a very odd variation of Journey to the West.
- The characters of Mahoraba are "actors" in the children's story written by Shiratori Ryuushi.
- Shikimori Kazuki has to take over the role of the male lead in a school play in Maburaho after the special effects become a little too realistic. The female lead is his childhood friend with a crush on him.
- In Mariasama ga Miteru, Lillian Jogakuen (Lillian Girls' School) and Hanadera Gakuen (Hanadera Academy, an all-boys school) put on a joint production of "Cinderella".
- Season 4 of the anime has another one, again put on by both schools, though this time around it's Torikaebaya Monogatari with Yumi and Yuki in the lead roles. Hilarity Ensues
- Episode 29 of Keroro Gunsou features Natsumi and Koyuki starring in a production of Peter Pan. When Natsumi gets stage fright, it gives Keroro a chance to curry her favor by helping out (and an excuse to dress like Chigusa Tsukikage from Glass Mask).
- Episode 3 of FLCL revolves around Naota getting dragged into playing the title character in his school's production of "Puss in Boots".
- Could be considered a subversion since the class president rigged the votes for casting or something to that effect
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- In the anime Sakura's brother Touya's class perform in "Cinderella"... with the genders of actors and characters reversed, and a few other character tweaks. Touya was Cinderella, his borderline Unrequited Tragic Maiden Youko was a Bifauxnen Prince, and Touya's best friend Yukito played a Good Fairy... as a "magical can of mackerel". Then, a Clow Card (The Mist) showed up and started destroying the scenery...
- Pictured above: Sakura's class performed Sleeping Beauty with supposedly random casting that included a fair amount of gender reversing - Sakura was another Bifauxnen Prince, Syaoran was the Princess, and Takashi played either the Evil Fairy (manga) or the Queen Mother (anime; the Fairy role, as seen in the picture, is taken over by Li Meiling). Then Sakura had to catch The Dark, one of the most powerful Cards...
- In the second movie, Sakura's class works on a short play written by Naoko where Sakura plays a princess and Syaoran is her prince - Takashi was supposed to be in the Prince role, but was injured due to The Nothing's powers and Syaoran, who had returned to Hong Kong but then dropped by to visit the cast, had to pitch in.
- Futari wa Pretty Cure did Romeo and Juliet with the main characters. At least, that's what the play started out as -- between the director's edits and an attack by a villain during the performance, the end result was almost completely unrecognizable.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch did, fittingly, "The Little Mermaid".
- The Fruits Basket manga had an... interesting... version of "Cinderella", with brash, violent Kyo cast as the handsome prince, pretty-boy Yuki as the Fairy Godmother, Goth girl Saki Hanajima as a rather creepy and lethargic Cinderella, and sweet and lovable Tohru as an evil stepsister. The casting was handled by Yuki's Instant Fanclub to change everyone's opinion of Tohru, while Tohru's friends tried to counteract it; needless to say, the Fanclub's plan failed miserably and Hilarity Ensued.
- School Rumble had the characters act in an original play although as most things in a comedy anime, not everything went as planned. The play itself is a combination of Sleeping Beauty and Seven Samurai, with a Little Red Riding Hood thrown in (manga only).
- Kareshi Kanojo No Jijou featured the production of a play based off a script written by one of the characters entitled "Steel Snow". The actual play itself is found only in the manga as the anime ended before these chapters could be animated due to the series' Troubled Production. In both cases, they are one of the highlights of the manga.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena: the Shadow Play Girls, who serve as the Greek Chorus of the series, put on a play that provides some vital and disturbing exposition.
- In episode 56 of Sailor Moon, the girls volunteer to participate in a "Snow White" play alongside Mamoru, who is playing the prince. Each one of them, including the villain An, ends up wanting the title role for herself. Hilarity Ensues.
- Inuyasha plays the trope for all the comedy it's worth as part of the School Festival episode. Kagome and her clueless admirer Hojo-kun are cast as romantic leads... but Inu-Yasha, not grasping that it's a play, takes exception, forcing Kagome to ad-lib wildly. The whole thing gets thoroughly derailed when a monster shows up to get blown away (along with part of the school) by Inu-Yasha's BFS. The audience, naturally, assumes it's all special effects.
- The school play in the Blue Drop anime, featuring Hagino and Mari as the leads and written by Michi, seems to be so important to Hagino that she pretty much endangers the fate of the world as we know to it to perform it. You'd think that the rebellious commander of an alien battleship has more important things on her mind.
- This trope is rather pivotal in Figure 17, the play features Tsubasa and Hikaru as the leads, thus providing the shy Tsubasa with a way of expressing her feelings. Made even more poignant since Shou, Tsubasa's love interest, is the author of the script and dies shortly after it is enacted.
- The School Play in Figure 17 is also a little special as anime school plays go. One, because it was an original work, and two, because we get to see the whole play - albeit between performance and rehearsal, rather than all in one go. .. Plus we get to see Tsubasa playing a Dark Magical Girl, sort of.
- Strawberry Panic includes a theatrical adaptation of the opera Carmen.
- Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru features the all-girls' school putting on Romeo and Juliet, with Mizuho (campus idol and secret male) as Romeo and Takako (Tsundere and student council president) as Juliet. A second play, an original fantasy, is staged at the same festival, starring younger girl Kana as the spirit of a cherry tree.
- The first play is fitting, because Mizuho's and Takako's families are rivals.
- D.N.Angel had the characters putting on a play based on an fairytale unique to that world.
- Interesting in that it was a love story... but all the actors were the male students, so a nice source of Ho Yay for Daisuke and Satoshi.
- Doki Doki School Hours has Mika's students put on a version of "Snow White", with gay Kudo playing the lead and his oblivious crush Suetake as the prince. It goes surprisingly well, despite the fact that Cross Dresser Seki is very unhappy that he couldn't play the lead role.
- The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya contains a minor subversion in its School Festival episode. The play in question has almost no effect on the plot of the episode, and is actually Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard, rather than the ubiquitous Romeo and Juliet.
- Knowing the play, some thinks the choice is to help highlight some of the show's themes.
- A big part of Hitohira.
- In Urusei Yatsura chapter 57, the play is Sugata Sanshirō at first, but then Ataru, in the role of Sun Wukong, intrudes into the play, and it becomes a Massive Multiplayer Crossover with Journey to the West.
- Maison Ikkoku had a version of this, where the Puppet Club put on a puppet play for preschoolers, with everything going perfectly. Until Godai's love interest was drafted into helping out, and squeezed into the booth with him, prompting him to bungle all his lines. But the kids liked it even more after that.
- Glass Mask unsurprisingly has several of these, although all are variations that don't quite match the trope. The first instance sparks Maya's acting dreams, and involves her playing a comic role tragically without changing the script at all. It is still a big hit with the audience, although the teacher in charge was not happy.
- Aoi Hana revolves around several plays, which function as a linking pin between two all-girl high schools, since drama club members scout actors at each other's institutes. One of them is Wuthering Heights .
- Here Is Greenwood had a School Festival episode where Shun participates in a play we don't get get to see except for a tiny snippet at the very end of the episode. The play? The Castleof Cagliostro, with Shun as Clarisse.
- The first season of Clannad has the main characters helping Nagisa revive the Drama Club. At the end of the season, Nagisa does a one-woman play with the rest of the cast as her tech crew. The play itself is a connection to a set of scenes throughout the season that seemed to not have anything to do with the plot at all...
- Pita-Ten has Kotarou's class perform Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, with Takashi and Mitarai fighting each other for the role of Kaguya-hime.
- In Wandering Son for the School Festival's the protagonists did school plays twice in a row. Once was a genderbent version of Romeo and Juliet and the other was based on a previous manga by the mangaka, where everyone switched sexes suddenly.
- The Desperate Revival arc in Detective Conan is based on Shinichi, Ran and Sonoko's class working on a play written by Sonoko, which features Ran playing a princess and Sonoko as her prince. When Sonoko is injured, the play's "future" is uncertain... until a temporarily aged-back Shinichi steps in to play the Prince while Ai disguises herself as Conan. . .
- The Oniisama E anime doesn't specifically feature a play, but Rei/Saint Juste is seen helping the drama club girls to prepare for one that they intend to do.
- One of the earlier arcs for Calvin and Hobbes involved Calvin's class putting on a play called Nutrition and the Four Food Groups. Calvin is cast in the *cough* tear-jerking role of the Onion, with other characters cast as "Fat", "Bread", and "Amino Acid". Calvin's major struggle with this show is his difficulty in remembering his line. "In addition to supplying vital nutrients, many vegetables are a source of dietary fiber!"
- In FoxTrot, Paige landed the lead role in the school production of Antony and Cleopatra. Hilarity Ensues as she has to cope with nerd Morton Goldthwait as Antony (they have to kiss), her fear of snakes, etc. However, we never get to see the play actually being performed.
- Done way too many times to count.
- This Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan fic, where Alan and Anne have a meltdown over the former getting the lead role in Sleeping Beauty opposite the Alpha Bitch because Alan is too afraid to perform onstage without Anne in the role of the princess. As if that wasn't enough drama, the Alpha Bitch ends up drugging Alan to try to get her hooks in him, necessitating a rescue from a sweet and gentle girl with a crush on him.
- Dead Poets Society
- Cole Sear appears in a school play about/as King Arthur near the end of The Sixth Sense.
- High School Musical: The Franchise.
- The end of Charlie Bartlett features a truly cheesy school play entitled "Hell Comes With Your Own Locker", written by a depressed student. The main purpose this seems to serve is to show Kat Dennings's character singing and to segue into a montage that appears to show what happens to the characters in the future.
- It's not really school, but Addams Family Values featured a play about Thanksgiving in which Wednesday takes her revenge on the Alpha Bitch.
- There's also Wednesday and Pugsley's performance of a scene from Hamlet in the first film, which leaves the audience drenched in fake blood.
- In Get Over It, they play A Midsummer Night's Dream, strangely mirroring the film's story itself. Oh, and that's a movie about students playing a play wherein a there is another play.
- In Big Daddy, the five year old boy, Julian was given the role of Benjamin Flanklin in a Founding Fathers school play. Sonny helped him rehearse the play during the montage scene.
- The whole plot on Were the World Mine revolves around a put on scene of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- In Rushmore, the nebbishy lead protagonist, obsessed with extracurricular clubs and activities (including plays), ties up various plot ends with a hilariously elaborately staged play set during the Vietnam War.
- Almost Angels features the boys performing the operetta "Tales From Old Vienna." Things begin to go wrong when one of the lead boys has a voice break, preventing him from being able to sing his part. Because The Show Must Go On and because the boys don't want the choirmaster to know about the voice break (as it means leaving the choir) they attempt to dub his part. Hilarity Ensues.
- One of the central plot points in Carry On Teacher. The production is of Romeo and Juliet, but with musical incidental music. It becomes a complete disaster.
- In his commentary for The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Albus Dumbledore mentions an occasion when Hogwarts tried to put on a school play -- an adaptation of the wizarding Fairy Tale, The Fountain of Fair Fortune. The play ended badly, resulting in a ban on any future productions.
- In the teen novel My Life and Other Catastrophes, the school play is busted by the police so they can arrest the younger brother of a local drug dealer, who is in the play. A critic in the audience mistakes it for interactive theater.
- A production of The Wizard of Oz is chronicled in one stretch of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (see You Are a Tree Charlie Brown); a talent show appears in the first sequel.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is built on this trope.
- In The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Adrian helps organise his school's (very political and non-traditional) nativity play, and stars as Joseph opposite Pandora as Mary.
Driving home in the car my father said, "That was the funniest Nativity play I have ever seen. Whose idea was it to turn it into a comedy?"
I didn't reply. It wasn't a comedy.
- In Starring the Baby-sitters Club! students from SES, SMS, SHS and Stoneybrook Academy put on a musical extravaganza, Peter Pan.
- The spinoff Babysitter's Little Sister features a Thanksgiving pageant, where Karen is set to play the turkey. She and her classmates turn it into a musical with parts for all the food roles, only for Karen to steal the show at the last minute with an add-libbed dance. Her classmates and teacher are not amused.
- Another Ann M. Martin book, Stage Fright, deals with the lead character's refusal to be in a school play due to a bad case of the titular phobia. Unfortunately, her family and friends don't seem to understand and even scold her for being afraid to perform on stage.
- In Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's The Agony of Alice, Alice plays a sentient bush who grabs the heroine, played by The Rival, Pamela. When Pamela steps on Alice's foot (accidentally or not), Alice grabs Pamela's hair, prompting an unscripted outburst to mutual embarrassment. Arguably worse for Alice, who can't leave the stage.
Live Action TV
- Arrested Development's school play episode featured Maeby and Steve Holt (Steve Holt!) as Benedick and Beatrice, respectively, in Much Ado About Nothing.
- The Brady Bunch did Romeo and Juliet with Marcia playing Juliet, Cindy's fairy princess play, plus a play about the American Revolution where Peter played Benedict Arnold. (The family also did a backyard production of "Snow White" and a home movie about the Pilgrims.)
- Growing Pains and The Wonder Years both did Our Town, but in the former the emphasis was on George (played by Mike) and in the latter the focus was on Emily (played by Winnie.)
- My So-Called Life also did Our Town, or would have if it hadn't been cancelled. However, it was unique in that the build-up lasted longer than just one episode.
- The child's dream sequence rule applies to Moonlighting's Taming of the Shrew fantasy. No character departures necessary.
- Saved by the Bell did "Snow White", but turned it into a rap that lasted approximately 45 seconds.
- The Degrassi franchise has done this, almost from it's conception. In an episode of The Kids Of Degrassi Street called "Griff Makes A Choice", a young student must decide whether or not to invite his father to a school production of "Robin Hood", as his father was living in a halfway house for minor crimes. Griff saw his father as a hero akin to Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor (the poor being himself, his brother and mother).
- Degrassi the Next Generation has Principal Raditch (the very incarnation of Adults Are Useless) trying to replace student Liberty's adaptation of Dracula with a dreary play to promote school spirit. Beating him brought two characters together. In a separate episode, the play was performed with ironically appropriate casting (see Double Aesop).
- D:TNG actually pulls this trope quite often, either in the form of the traditional play or in smaller several person plays or improv skits in Ms. Kwan's English class (or, quite often, talent shows or auditions convenientally taking place in the school). Romeo and Juliet was actually done quite early, in a Season 1 episode where all around popular guy Jimmy was cast as Romeo and Queen Bee Paige as Juliet; Paige tried to use this occassion to steal Jimmy away from his girlfriend, Ashley, almost leading Jimmy and Ashley to have sex before they were ready.
- In the Season 5 finale, a play/variety act was put on that chronicled the history of the school; while the actors in the play themselves were unimportant, it served as a creative backdrop for the utter destruction of Spinner and Darcy's relationship (they actually broke up and got back together several times in the course of the 40-some minutes)
- In a season 2 episode, the class is broken up into groups to perform their own interpretations of The Taming of the Shrew. Ashley and future love interest Craig interpret it as sexist and perform it as an almost abusive piece; Ashley's ex Jimmy and cheerleader Hazel interpret it as a poppy sports-themed piece. Ashley had been reconsidering getting back together with Jimmy at the time; this led her to realize they had changed too much, and she let him down.
- Then in Season 3, the class split into groups and wrote their own plays. Jimmy was directing his group, and cast the insecure Terri as the lead. Terri's boyfriend Rick, the child of two actors, however, kept giving Terri advice that went against Jimmy's commands. She eventually followed Rick's advice and was humiliated; this, along with other acts, helped Terri to realize Rick was controlling (and eventually abusive) and she dumped him.
- In Season 11, Eli writes a play that is pretty much about his break-up with Clare and his ensuing nervous breakdown.
- The third season of Waterloo Road features a School Play written by one of the teachers, a musical with more Suspiciously Apropos Music than you can shake a stick at.
- Higher Ground had a slight twist on this: one of the students fully re-wrote Romeo and Juliet as "Bobby Joe and Jillian," West Side Story-style.
- Head of the Class did Hair, Little Shop of Horrors, and Grease.
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had one episode with Kimberly and Bulk in a production of "Rumpelstiltskin". The production seemed to last less than five minutes, and no one involved seemed to know the story very well: the one bit we see involves Bulk missing his cue and Kimberly repeatedly calling out "Rumplestiltskin!"
- The reunion special Bring Me The Head of Dobie Gillis featured a subplot in which a drama teacher fanatically pursues his decades-long dream of staging his play titled, literally, "A Musical Version Of Romeo and Juliet With A Happy Ending". (The happy ending? They are reunited in heaven after offing themselves.)
- Eureka has the protagonist's teenage daughter performing in a bizarre tech-fantasy version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, complete with jetpacks and tentacled fairies.
- My Brother and Me had the older brother's school performing Robin Hood, with his sister designing the costumes. He initially balked at playing Robin Hood because of the tights - leaving the role to his friend Goo, until he learned his crush got Maid Marian's part. His sister helped him get the role back by accidentally-on-purpose goofing up Goo's tights (she doesn't like him that much).
- Gossip Girl has the main cast performing The Age of Innocence, with much of the episodes plot paralleling that of the play.
- What was interesting was that Gossip Girl of all shows actually made their scenario realistic. The play was a senior class play hence why all the main characters were cast in it and the episode aired after a month-long hiatus where rehearsals could have taken place. But then it all goes the predictable route of having the characters going off book and basically ruining the play...which is then hailed as genius since it comes across as bringing modern aspects into a classic play.
- In the "Sketch" episode of the second series of Skins, Maxxie, Michelle and Sketch participate in the school play, "Osama: The Musical", which is a love story that takes place during 9/11 (yes really), written by the lecherous American drama teacher. In the play, Maxxie and Michelle have the two romantic leads, and Sketch is tossed aside by the teacher for a good role because she isn't pretty enough. The play is used to show Sketch's obsession with Maxxie and displaced dislike of Michelle, as she gives Michelle pills to make her throw up so she can play Michelle's role in the play, even though Michelle is nothing but friendly to her. Also worth mentioning are the silly American accents.
- The Worst Witch TV series featured two (nearly). One episode featured the girls rehearsing for a production of The Selfish Giant, only for Enid to drop the scenery on Ethel. The production is never mentioned in after that episode. The Christmas Special the following year featured the characters in a pantomime of "Cinderella".
- 90210 features Spring Awakening.
- Boston Public features Our Town where George and Emily are lesbians.
- In the Canadian show Radio Active English teacher Ms. Atoll "suggests" (read: insists) that the main cast put on a Radio Play. After each suggesting various strange and/or self-centred ideas (dramatic readings of things like ingredients on cereal boxes, a self-centred character's bank book statements, famous NHL games, a stand-up comedy routine, ect...) Atoll just decides that they should do "Beauty and the Beast". The play is a complete failure, with the lead passing out from just TALKING about romance, receiving phone calls in the middle of broadcasting, and the sound effects guy using some very strange sound effects, including an explosion that causes everyone to lose their scripts. Eventually, they decide to get their act together, and put the play on again, this time combining everyone's ideas and working them into the script. The play goes off without a hitch, but Ms. Atoll comes in as the gang is cheering their success with a deadpan "It still sucks."
- The British 1-hour comedy-drama The Flint Street Nativity features a bunch of squabbling kids played by adults (not a 100% original idea) whose Nativity play ends up totally chaotic. Their parents, played in the final scene by the same actors, don't seem to mind too much.
- The Suite Life of Zack and Cody did an episode centered around a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- An episode of Hannah Montana did an episode in drama class that had Miley playing opposite Oliver in a scene from Romeo and Juliet.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus did it with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In practice, it went a bit wrong, leading to: "Do you four boys take these two girls to be your seven brides?"
- On I Love Lucy, Little Ricky is in a play called The Enchanted Forest, and all the adults get roped into performing in it as well: Lucy plays a witch, Ethel plays a fairy princess, Fred plays a frog, and Ricky plays a hollow tree.
- In Full House, Michelle's class puts on a patriotic play and she wants to play the Yankee Doodle Kid. Uncle Jesse and Joey give that part to her more talented classmate Derek and cast Michelle as Lady Liberty instead, much to her resentment. She comes around at the end to help Derek overcome his stage fright, though.
- In The George Lopez Show, Max has one about staying safe around strangers. Max plays the stranger, a man in a Conspicuous Trenchcoat. After seeing how crappy the play was, George is not convinced that Max really learned anything. He also mentions a holiday play they did that had Abraham, Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha all celebrating Kwanzaa.
- In Wishbone, the students did The Tempest. Which prompts Wishbone to begin imagining.. The Tempest.
- On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Tommy got Dick to direct his school's production of Romeo and Juliet so that Dick could cast him as Romeo opposite August as Juliet. Instead, Dick became a Prima Donna Director ("Now everyone watch once again as I act out the play in its entirty.") and made Tommy the prop guy.
- The Golden Girls had one where the girls filled in for a play of Henny Penny at the school where Dorothy taught-the child actors got sick and the play would have been off otherwise. Then Rose gets upset about the ending and has to be convinced not to back out.
- Boy Meets World's first season has Cory's class doing Hamlet. Cory gets the lead role, quits in protest at the idea of wearing tights, but ends up coming back to play a smaller role when he realizes the play can't go on without every class member.
- The TV adaptation of Clueless had Cher win the role of Sandy in her school production of Grease, but a girl pretending to be her friend locked her in the closet so she could have it for herself. The girl ends up being horrible and over the top, and Cher just manages to escape in time to take over for the remainder of the play.
- In the hentai game X-Change 2, Takuya is offered a role in a school play written by the drama club president, Miyuki. The play's topic, which is about hermaphrodites falling in love, is unpopular with the other club members, who threaten to quit unless Miyuki cancels the play. Takuya convinces Miyuki to stop the play, as it isn't more important than her friends.
- In Mega Man Star Force there is a school play at one point. Geo Stelar has to play the role as Mega Man in the play, so for his costume he simply transforms into Mega Man.
- A school play being played in the School Festival is a staple of the Tokimeki Memorial series, usually courtesy of the Drama Club. If you're a member of this Club, you'll get a role in it. And in Tokimeki Memorial 2, in 3rd year where the School Festival activities depend of the classes instead of the Clubs, you can get your class to choose to do a school play (which happens to be the preferred choice of Cute Shotaro Boy Takumi, who'll get to play as the princess of the play in sudden replacement of the ill main actress).
- In the Girl's Side games, a role in the school play is always available to the protagonist in the third year, alongside whichever guy she's closest with (even if it's her teacher). The plays are always conveniently thematically appropriate to the relationship the protagonist has with the guy in question.
- Persona has the local Drama Club worry about what play they were going to put on for a School Festival. However, there seems to be a unique school play called The Snow Queen they could do... But the mask for the title role is an evil one, that calls forth the Night Queen (called Nyx in the orignal JPN) from her slumber.
- Penny and Aggie: In "The Popsicle War" arc, the students of Belleville High are intermittently shown rehearsing Macbeth. The casting involves both some expected parallels with the strip's characters and some twists. The actual performance isn't shown until the later "Final Curtain, First Kiss" arc, in which the overlapping romantic and career-ambition subplots, involving several of the cast members, have a comically disastrous effect on the closing night's staging. Disastrous, that is, except for Sara, whose sexy performance as Lady Macbeth catches the attention of a Hollywood talent scout and eventually lands her a role in a Reality Show.
- A brief Story Arc in WCI High showed the school production of (what else?) Romeo and Juliet, which heavily parodied as many cliches as possible:
- Juliet is played by a nine-foot-tall reptilian monster (because no one has the guts to tell her no). In the balcony scene, she simply stands behind the scenery and pokes her head through the second-story window. (Oddly, they avoid using the "wherefore art thou" line.)
- Also, while she normally talks in Hulk Speak, she has an amazing talent for Shakespearean dialog. (Doubly subverted when she exclaims, "Me talk pretty one day!")
- Montague and Capulet are dressed as Mario and Luigi. (Capulet has a "C" on his cap, of course, instead of Luigi's "L".)
- Mercutio and Tybalt are played by a budding superhero and his budding arch-nemesis. The villain tries using a real sword, which of course doesn't work.
- In Ozy and Millie, the school puts on "The Story of Caulk." Avery improvises a kiss on Millie, ostensibly to improve the play (he otherwise shows no sign of a crush on her), and she loses her lunch on stage. Unstoppable Rage ensues.
- In a memorable example on American Dragon Jake Long, Jake works it out so he'll get to kiss his secretly-admired Rose in Antony and Cleopatra. Their own lives mimic the tragic nature of the play, as they both have secret identities, and are enemies without their own knowledge (although it's made clear to the viewers). Rose, as "The Huntsgirl", injures her leg in battle with Jake, in his reptilian alter-ego form. Rose shows up in a cast, she has to back out of the play, and Jake's (male) friend Spud takes over her role.
- Doug had Doug's auteur sister Judy put on a strange, symbolism-filled version of a traditional play about the founding of the town, despite the attempts of strait-laced vice-principal Mr. Bone to get the ordinary but dull standard version performed.
- Another episode featured a play depicting the love relationship between Leonardo daVinci and Mona Lisa, starring Doug as Leonardo and Patty as Mona. (At the very end, she was replaced by Judy.)
- In yet another episode, wherein Doug bonds with a boy named Todd, who acts out for attention, Todd is a member of Judy's after school kids' drama group. After being taught some restraint by Doug, Todd rejoins the group for their performance of Shakespeare's The Tempest and gives a rousing performance as Prospero, with some stage magic help from Doug. For some weird reason, his Prospero is reciting Miranda's dialogue.
- Hey Arnold! has done several school plays: a musical on food in the very first episode, a Thanksgiving pageant in the Thanksgiving special, the seemingly pre-requisite Romeo and Juliet in an episode that was actually titled "School Play", and a musical called "Eugene, Eugene!" in the show's last 15-minute episode.
- Not to mention an episode where Arnold fall asleep during the first act of Carmen, dreaming himself into the opera with himself as the soldier, and his crush Ruth as the titular character. Then Helga falls asleep during the second act, bringing in elements of The Ring Cycle for some zaniness.
- WITCH has the girls required to be on stage at the same time the Big Bad is planning something big, so the girls manage to be in two places at once by creating magical doubles of themselves. Hilarity Ensues when their mentor forgets to warn them that the doubles don't have all their memories. The play itself had heavy Foreshadowing of later episodes.
- Interesting to note that the play went off without a hitch in the original comic.
- Cow and Chicken had a two part "play episode" entitled The Ugliest Weenie, based on a play Cow wrote, and Chicken wanting to get the lead role once he realises the hottest girl in school is the love interest. He ends up the understudy to the lead, and then gains the role when the lead actor gets the measles... only to discover said actor gave the measles to the love interest, and Cow is filling in that role.
- Code Lyoko parodies this trope in its Season 1 episode "Laughing Fit", with the obligatory Romeo and Juliet. Not only is it rather bad, the entire production seems to be managed entirely by Sissi.
- Later on, in Season 3 episode "Temporary Insanity", Cyrano De Bergerac is being played, with Mr. Chardin stating that the only reason they are doing this specific play is that it has also a balcony scene, and they don't want to waste a good stage prop.
- This gives Gosalyn a lot of misery in an episode of Darkwing Duck, since her father is in a bit of a Ten-Minute Retirement to be a perfect parent and casts her as the main role, the Sugar Plum Fairy. Not exactly fitting of her own personality...
- In "Romeo Must Wed", an episode of The Proud Family, the students of Willy T. Ribs put on a production of Romeo and Juliet.
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, the students perform Macbeth in Space. There was also talk of Hamlet on Ice.
- Recess had the characters put on a Christmas play once which was being broadcasted to the rest of the world and Mikey was meant to be the lead of Santa Claus. The episode centred on him debating with himself and his friends as to whether Santa existed or not and Mikey nearly refusing to play the part in the school play.
- In Alvin and The Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman, the school the Chipmunks attend is putting a production of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (arguably a sort of werewolf story as well). The shy Theodore is tapped to play the lead in hopes that it'll improve his self-confidence, but his performance really starts improving after he is infected with lycanthropy.
- In an episode of South Park, the kids turn a school production of The Miracle Worker into a musical extravaganza in order to make sure they wouldn't be outdone by the preschoolers' Thanksgiving skit. It turns out in the end they had nothing to worry about, and everyone but Butters can't believe they did all that hard work for nothing.
- Home Movies had Bye Bye Greasy, a parody of the 1950s-set high school theater warhorses Bye Bye Birdie and Grease.
- The Simpsons' episode "I Love Lisa" climaxes with the elementary school pageant Hooray for Presidents' Day, in which Ralph Wiggum and Lisa Simpson play George and Martha Washington -- their segment turns out to be Better Than It Sounds because Ralph, whose crush on Lisa was rebuffed, channels his heartache into his performance. Springfield Elementary has had many performances, in fact: the original Christmas Episode opened at a Christmas pageant, other episodes have included talent shows (one featuring students, the other faculty), and in "I Love Lisa" we're told of the unsuccessful Fire Drill Follies. ("You opened the show with a fire drill and everyone cleared out!")
Skinner: Now, who in Springfield will eat the poisoned broth? Oh-ho! It could be anyone, even Mr. Burns!
Burns: This play really speaks to me!
Ralph: Hello, I'm Dr. Stupid. I'm going to take out your liver bones. (decapitates dummy of Burns with saw) Oops, you're dead.
Burns: I never liked that Dr. Stupid.
- The second season of The Spectacular Spider-Man}} includes a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream; lines from the auditions and performance are used to comment on the larger plot.
- Not really the main focus of the episode, but the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" has Filly!Rarity designing costumes for a play. Despite the teacher liking them, she thinks they're horrible...until her horn takes her to a geode that she uses to for some reason put gemstones all over the other costumes, and for some reason the show is a hit. And the play doesn't seem to have any real plot either, it's just a group of foals in food costumes bobbing back and forth to music.