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Better Than It Sounds: Theater

Because True Art Is Incomprehensible.

  • 13: 13 Teenagers sing about being 13... Or A Jewish Weirdness Magnet moves to Indiana and somehow gets himself wedged between the politics of a Betty and Veronica Love Triangle between the Brainless Beauty (Betty) the Jerk Jock (Archie) and the Alpha Bitch (Veronica) and has to choose between the cool kids and the nerds, one of whom is the Girl Next Door, and the other one is a major subversion of the Littlest Cancer Patient
  • 42nd Street: A big-time director hires a random groupie in desperation. Luckily, said groupie just happens to have enough raw talent to make any Mary Sue jealous.
  • 1776: An obnoxious lawyer, an emo farmer, a horny doctor and a bunch of middle-aged white men bitch about the heat and call each other names while trying to start a revolution. There are more sex jokes than you might expect. A lot more.
  • Ajax: A guy goes nuts when a fallen hero's armor is given to someone else. Written by a pedophile.
  • A Little Night Music: Rich Swedish people who are unhappy with their relationships end up in better relationships.
  • A Night In The Old Marketplace: With the help of a statue and a drunk, a guilt-ridden Jewish comedian tries to resurrect a woman who committed suicide the day her parents forced her to marry a rich guy. The rich guy in the hero. Everyone sings lots of klezmer, and They Might Be Giants show up for the finale to sing about dead people getting drunk.
  • Alice: Schoolteacher uses alias to attempt to seduce his student. When that fails, he turns into a rabbit. That, too, fails, because she is more interested in discussing the life of Johnny Eck with a drug-addicted larva and becoming royalty. Music by Tom Waits.
  • Alls Well That Ends Well: To avoid bedding his wife, a Jerk Ass goes off to war alongside a Dirty Coward. His bride is determined to get pregnant by him, and sabotages a Florentine widow's reputation to attain this goal.
  • Amadeus: An old man is still obsessed with his rival, decades after killing him.
  • Androcles and the Lion: Married man's affair with Pantomime Animal makes emperor get religion.
  • Angels In America: God hires Roy Cohn to represent him in a parental abandonment suit.
  • Arcadia: Girl discovers thermodynamics, dies in a fire. Meanwhile, in the Future, a lot of academics are wrong.
  • Assassins: A bunch of emo losers try to kill a man.
  • Avenue Q: Twenty-something Muppets search for a purpose in life and extol the virtues of porn while living in a building run by a short black man played by a woman.
  • The Barber of Seville: The Barber is an Almighty Janitor who helps a nobleman marry an orphaned girl, whose guardian is a customer of said barber.
  • The Birds: A guy persuades feathered friends to claim divinity. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Birthday Party: A boarding house occupant is told that it is his birthday even though it might not be. Two of his old friends show up to celebrate.
  • Bells Are Ringing: A lazy writer enjoys a whirlwind affair with a beautiful mystery woman who seems to know all about him. He then finds out that she's his Mom.
  • The Book of Mormon: Two mormons are sent to foreign Uganda. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Cabaret: People sing and dance suggestively while Nazis take over. The Beta Couple is a landlady and an elderly Jewish fruit vendor.
  • Camelot: A French man destroys a utopian English government.
  • Candide: A really drawn-out straw man argument about an obscure philosophical thesis.
  • Carmen Jones: An African-American Setting Update of a classic French opera.
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Drunk refuses to have sex with his wife because he blames her for turning his best friend gay by having sex with him.
  • Cats: Household pets from Uncanny Valley sing, dance, and poke the people sitting in the expensive seats.
    • Alternatively: A book of children's poems is turned into an opera with an all-furry cast.
  • Chess: The Cold War boils down to a Jerkass facing an adulterer over a really old board game. The adulterer falls for the jerkass's manager.
  • Cirque du Soleil: A circus specializing in explorations of aspects of Life, the Universe and Everything...with next to no dialogue. It's All There in the Manual!
    • Alegria: The bourgeoisie and proletariat battle for control of a kingdom via acrobatics.
    • The Beatles LOVE: Across the Universe without all that distracting plot and dialogue.
    • Corteo: The death of a clown.
    • KOOZA: Loser receives and opens unexpected package; Hilarity Ensues.
    • La Nouba: A janitor opens a door and finds both idiots and love within.
    • Mystere: Two babies search for their "loveys". A heckler doesn't just mock the actors.
    • "O": Kidnapped man joins a passing parade upon/in a flooded stage.
    • Quidam: Young girl learns the commonality of alienation.
    • Saltimbanco: Humanity is boiled down to timid faceless people and mad gypsies.
    • Varekai: The untold aftermath of a famous air tragedy.
  • The Caretaker: Homeless man is taken in by two brothers of dubious sanity, given handyman job. Refuses to believe he snores, blames black people.
  • Carousel: Domestic Abuser is given one last chance to redeem himself to his family. Result: "Failure!"
  • The Comedy of Errors: A tourist in a foreign city tries to pick up a hooker and gets bitch-slapped by the wife of his long-lost twin brother; he then falls in love with a woman who thinks she's his sister-in-law... in the end, the brothers learn that their mom is a nun and their dad is on death row, and everyone lives happily ever after.
  • Company: A single guy hangs out with his married friends.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: An ugly man kills people and lusts after his cousin. Oh, and he writes a lot of poetry.
  • Dancing At Lughnasa: Five poor sisters dance a lot, the youngest sister's son is snarky, the older brother murders a rooster and the son's estranged father tears the family apart.
  • Dearly Departed: A dysfunctional Southern family brings their neuroses to the surface after the death of the family patriarch. This is all played for laughs.
  • Dog Sees God: Charlie Brown and friends are teenagers in high school. Snoopy dies. Things get worse from there.
  • Drood: A whiny writer dies midway through his final murder mystery. The guy who wrote "The Pina Colada Song" gets ahold of the story and turns it into a Broadway musical, forcing the audience to pick the ending.
  • The Drowsy Chaperone: A man sits in his apartment listening to a record of his favorite musical and complains about stuff.
    • Or, a wedding falls apart and comes back together for no good reason, and then they all go to Rio.
  • Einstein On The Beach: People sing scales, numbers, and nonsense poetry (some of it written by an autistic teenager) while a man (or sometimes woman) dressed as Albert Einstein plays the violin. For 4 1/2 hours with no intermission.
  • Equivocation:The bad guy wins, but Shakespeare makes fun of him.
  • Equus: A sexually repressed teen murders horses, then a therapist reconsiders his job.
  • The Father: Old army scientist argues with his wife about their daughter.
  • Fiddler on the Roof: An old Jewish man wants to be rich and have his daughters get married.
  • The Flying Dutchman: A young girl really likes this moody Byronic hero she read about. When he suddenly appears, her father who, like, Oh my god, doesn't undersand her, turns out to be OMG evil, selling her to him! Then he finds out who he is, and tries to back out! Her boyfriend begs her to come back, but she throws herself off a cliff rather than being one of the mundanes. As an opera.
  • Frank's Wild Years: Man returns to hometown, tries to convince everyone that he's famous.
  • Frankenstein: Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes take turns being complete assholes to one another.
  • Der Freischütz: Man attempts to sabotage his romantic rival by tricking him into buying ammunition from a demonic Power Ranger.
  • La gazza ladra: A girl sells a spoon that a bird steals. The girl then gets blamed for the theft, but she is saved when the bird steals a coin.
  • The Ghost Sonata: University student moves into lodging house populated by vampires, mummies, and people only he can see. Finds love, but she's dead.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan: The theatrical collaborations of a humorist and a hymn writer.
    • Thespis: The Greek gods go to Earth to drum up worshippers. The theatrical team that takes their place proves most incompetent. Hilarity Ensues. This play is now lost forever, but that's all right because new music has been written for it.
    • Trial By Jury: A biased judge arbitrates a breach of promise case.
    • The Sorcerer: A couple of romantics hire a warlock to enchant the tea at their engagement party. To break the spell, one of them must go to a Fate Worse than Death.
    • H.M.S. Pinafore A sailor loves the Captain's daughter. Fortunately for the lovers, said tar and the Captain turn out to be each other.
    • The Pirates of Penzance: A guy's birthday screws up his love life and strains his relationship with his adoptive family. Who are pirates!
    • Patience: There are twenty-one maidens. There are twenty Heavy Dragoons and two aesthetic poets. You do the math.
    • Iolanthe: After their newest MP is outed as one, the House of Peers encounters fairies. By the end, everyone has become a fairy.
    • Princess Ida: In order to save her family, a ladies' college administrator must overcome her misandry and marry her fiance.
    • The Mikado: Japanese people threaten to commit suicide in order to avoid execution.
    • Ruddigore: A burning witch curses a baronet and all his heirs to commit a crime a day or die in agony. Hilarity Ensues.
    • The Yeomen of the Guard: A comedienne marries a condemned man for money. Tragedy Ensues.
    • The Gondoliers: Two naive idealists share the crown until the rightful heir is determined.
    • Utopia, Limited: An impressionable culture becomes a caricature of Victorian England. Two power-hungry apparatchiks and a man obsessed with making things go boom protest. Characters from other operas get cameos.
    • The Grand Duke: People "duel" with playing cards. Not an anime.
  • The Glass Menagerie: Man recalls how he fell out with, and walked out on, his crazy mother and sickly sister.
  • The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?: Man tells his family about his affair. They don't take it well.
  • Hamlet: The most famous play in the English language is about an emo teenager who spends all his time moping.
  • Happy Days: A woman is buried up to her waist in sand. By Act Two, she's buried up to her neck.
  • The Haunted Manor: Two Polish soldiers who vowed never to have sex hope to get married to two sisters but not until their aunt tells them a made-up story of hers. The title doesn't really prove it, but it's a comedy.
  • Henry V: A king uses rhetoric to convince his army that dying in the muck is the best fate they could possibly hope for.
  • The Heracleidae: One king threatens another with war if the other does not deliver up some orphaned children and their guardian to be killed.
  • Hippolytus: The queen desires her misogynistic stepson, who spurns her. The King misunderstands her suicide note and things go downhill from there.
    • Phaedra: The same as above, except that the queen lodges a false accusation against her stepson while still alive.
  • The House of Bernarda Alba: Widow has the great idea of locking up her daughters for eight years. One of them has sex with her boyfriend through a window. And then she dies.
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: A magic book gives a window washer control of a Fortune 500 company.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest: Two guys use the same alias to woo shallow girls. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Iphigenia in Tauris: A Fix Fic in which a Human Sacrifice victim has survived, and when she returns home she takes a statue from where she's been staying.
  • L Italiana In Algeri: A misogynistic official dumps his wife for an exotic beauty. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Into the Woods: Various fairytales get Crisis Crossover'd with each other. The main conflict ends halfway through, and sometime later the narrator gets killed off.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar: A really cool guy and his friends sing rock songs. Religious fanatics and a corrupt politician murder him. He gets better.
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: A spoiled Fashion Victim is sold into slavery, but eventually becomes a VIP.
  • King Lear: A king learns that dividing your legacy by flattery is a really bad idea.
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman and Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Musical: Sorta like Oz (the prison show, not the thing with the wizard), and one version has songs.
  • The Knights: A political Author Tract in which a landowner claims a meat vendor as his new major-domo.
  • Lady in the Dark: Neurosis in successful businesswoman is linked to her inability to remember the words to a song.
  • Leave It To Me!: "Stinky" bathtub man is upset because he's not in Kansas anymore, and tries to go back home the dishonorable way.
  • Legally Blonde: The Musical: Is Legally Blonde: The Musical.
  • The Light in the Piazza: A head trauma victim finds true love on vacation.
  • Long Day's Journey into Night: Dysfunctional family stew over their resentments. A dead baby is given the author's name.
  • Lohengrin: A knight of the Holy Grail marries a woman who gave him Love at First Sight but must flee when she asks his name.
  • Lucia Di Lammermoor: A girl is made to pretend to jilt her lover and marry a man she dislikes. Insanity Ensues.
  • Macbeth: War hero finally finishes his "honey do" list, which involves a lot of politically-motivated murder, only to see his wife retreat into obsessive-compulsive hand-washing. Then a guy who was born by Cesarean section cuts his head off.
    • Or: Witches stir a cauldron. This is the most memorable part of the play. If you trick an actor into saying the name of this play while in a theatre you win a prize.
  • Mamma Mia!: A woman on a Greek island doesn't know who the father of her daughter is. Blamed for popularizing the Jukebox Musical.
    • Or: Maury Povich: The Musical.
  • The Marriage of Figaro: Horny French people being very horny.
  • Me and My Dick: A musical about a young boy struggling to loose his virginity, and his best friend is his dick.
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor: A fat man flirts with two married women in order to get at their money. His final attempt involves antlers.
  • The Merchant of Venice: Nobody seems to know, just that it's racist now. Actually, it's about a guy who agrees to get maimed so his freeloading best friend (and, as it turns out, his freeloading friend) can go skirt-chasing. It's considered a comedy.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream: A king has trouble with his marriage, so he uses a magic flower and a trickster to get back good with his wife. A teenage love story and a stage play complicates matters. The phrase "Make an ass out of yourself" gets used far more literally than we're used too.
  • Les Misérables Police officer won't stop chasing baked-goods-thief with a penchant for adopting prostitute's daughters.
  • Miss Julie: Servant convinces title character that suicide is the only way to go.
  • The Mousetrap: Murders occur and the audience is sworn to secrecy about whodunnit.
  • Much Ado About Nothing: A Card-Carrying Villain tries to ruin a Romantic Comedy as it unfolds. He fails when his plot is uncovered by a dumb policeman.
  • Next To Normal: It's a musical about bipolar disorder and electric shock therapy...
  • The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail: Man refuses to pay taxes, hallucinates vividly.
  • No Exit: Three people in a room talk about their lives in the past tense. Eventually one of them says something endlessly quotable and deeply misanthropic.
  • Noises Off: Actors fail to perform a comedy correctly.
  • Norma: A Gallic priestess sacrifices herself for having sex with a Roman soldier.
    • Mona: As above, but the priestess is a Briton and no sex is involved. Heavily influenced by Wagner and far worse than it sounds.
  • Oedipus Rex: A city is in trouble because its king is one mean motherfucker.
    • Alternatively: A man travels a long distance, unknowingly kills his father, and still unknowingly has sex with his mother (resulting in children). When the truth dawns on him it blinds him.
    • Or: A bad motherfucker invents the Eye Spork.
    • Antigone: Politician goes great lengths to stop a young inbred girl from burying her brother. A lot of people end up buried before all is said and done.
  • Oklahoma!: A cowboy and a creepy farmhand fight over a girl's picnic basket. The cowboy talks his rival into suicide, and is still considered the hero.
  • Oliver!: Kid does nothing in particular, but his very existence ends up killing a notorious criminal and his lover. In the end, the kid ends up living with his grandfather.
  • On A Clear Day You Can See Forever: 1960s flower child unknowingly regresses a few centuries while trying to give up smoking.
  • Once On This Island: A peasant lusts after a rich man and sells her soul to the devil to get him to like her. It doesn't work. She dies.
  • The Oresteia: Murder besets a Big Screwed-Up Family. The arc ends in a squickfest that is now missing.
    • Agamemnon: A man comes back from war bringing a psychic concubine. His wife and her lover bump them off.
    • The Libation Bearers: An angry youth kills his mother and stepfather.
    • The Eumenides: His ultimate fate is decided by a conflict of interest.
  • Othello: A disgruntled, racist military officer arranges the deaths of his superiors.
  • Our American Cousin: An Eaglelander visits his British relatives. Hilarity Ensues—or did until a head of state was murdered at a performance of this play.
  • Overtones: A snob and a poser talk about painting while the voices in their heads pine over each other's husbands.
  • Pacific Overtures: A Kabuki style play with American showtunes.
  • Pagliacci: A Sad Clown learns that his wife is imitating art. He then proceeds to sing about his clown suit. Tragedy ensues.
  • Passion: A man is stalked relentlessly by a local crazy woman until he shoots her cousin and has a nervous breakdown. It's a love story.
  • People Are Wrong!: Young couple run afoul of landscaping cult.
  • Pericles, Prince of Tyre: A ruler who knows too much escapes Morton's Fork and takes a journey, where he gains a wife and daughter.
  • The Phantom of the Opera: Pederast terrorizes the French upper crust from underground lair.
  • Pippin: An alienated youth in the Dark Ages finds out the hard way that killing his father is a bad idea. The show ends with a blazing spectacular finale which is never performed.
  • Porgy and Bess: Cocaine-using floozy moves in with cripple who likes to gamble.
  • The Producers: Investment Fraud: The Musical.
  • The Real Inspector Hound: Critics watch and act in a knock-off of The Mousetrap while making snarky comments.
  • Rent: Hugely popular remake of arty French opera La Boheme in which one character is turned into a drag queen, another into a bisexual performance artist, and everybody got AIDS and shit.
  • Rigoletto: A nobleman and his jester are cursed. The jester is worried about his daughter because of this, but the nobleman doesn't care and sings a famous showstopper.
  • The Rocky Horror Show: Nice midwestern couple meet Human Aliens in drag. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Romeo and Juliet: Two teenagers help their emo friend get laid. Said friend kills himself when the postal service arrives late.
    • Alternatively: Two horny teenagers behave like horny teenagers. Everyone Dies because of it.
    • Alternatively: Two teens who are in love overreact and kill themselves. This is considered romantic by a depressingly large number of people.
    • Alternatively, as offered on The Dick Van Dyke Show: A couple of crazy mixed up kids run away from home and end up dead.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel French expatriate accidentally sends her Rich Idiot with No Day Job husband to his death while simultaneously trying to save his life, and while being seduced by her Evil Is Sexy former lover. Everyone wonders about the Secret Identity of a proto-superhero.
  • Seussical: Stage adaptation of two famous children's books narrated by a character who appeared in neither.
  • Shockheaded Peter: Misbehaving children get what they deserve: a man in pancake makeup who plays the accordion and sings falsetto.
  • Six Characters in Search of an Author: Play rehearsal gets interrupted by a dysfunctional family who don't exist.
  • Spamalot: King Arthur on a budget with songs. Arthur and his knights are nearly thwarted in their quest because none of them are Jewish. Also, there's gay marriage in the 8th century.
  • Spring Awakening: Sexually repressed nineteenth-century German teenagers sing catchy indie pop songs.
  • Starlight Express: A Cinderella-type story where all the characters are railway engines and train cars.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: A fading Southern belle is driven insane by her brother-in-law.
  • Sunday In The Park With George Struggling artist paints cardboard characters while his girlfriend starts dating other men. 100 years later, the picture fades away.
  • Sunset Boulevard: Forgotten silent film star sings out her passions to a random passerby whom she entraps.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: A Straw Nihilist with a chip on his shoulder and a Lethal Chef decide to start a business together. It involves cannibalism.
    • Alternately, a barber kills his customers and his neighbor bakes the bodies into pies. It's a musical.
  • Sweet Charity A woman doesn't end up with a man. Then she doesn't end up with a different man. She meets a third man and they go to a strange church together. Then she doesn't end up with him.
  • The Taming of the Shrew: Two rivals pay a third man to marry their intended's sister so they can marry the other girl. A transient college student marries her instead. There are penis jokes.
  • Tanz der Vampire: The lives of a mousy young guy, a cranky old man, a girl with a thing for sponges, an innkeeper and a busty scullery wench take an interesting turn when the local aristocracy has a little get-together.
  • Three Sisters: A family plan to move house, but never get around to doing it. One guy has a brief soliloquy about human nature, but gets interrupted by another guy's search for chocolate.
  • Titus Andronicus: A man slowly goes mad, several people end up dead in the woods, and a queen learns to regret accepting dinner invitations.
  • Thyestes: A king who sees himself as Above Good and Evil tricks his brother into cannibalism.
  • Twelfth Night: A Sweet Polly Oliver finds herself in a Love Dodecahedron, made even worse when her dead brother shows up. Drunkards trick an uptight man.
  • Urinetown: A cheerily dystopian musical about really needing to go to the bathroom.
  • Venus In Fur: An actress auditioning for a role in a play about sadomasochism has a sadomasochistic relationship with the director, who is engaged to another woman. It is a comedy.
  • A Very Potter Musical: A bunch of college students Americanize a British book series with lousy sound quality, cheesy songs, and a complete change of nearly every character's personality.
  • Waiting for Godot: Nothing happens. The next night, nothing continues to happen. It's a classic of modern literature.
    • Alternately: nothing happens. Twice.
    • Or: Two guys wait for somebody who never shows up.
  • Well: a play theatric exploration of racial integration, allergies and the playwright's mommy issues. Ultimately, the actors all quit, leaving the playwright alone to face the themes of her own work. Needless to say, the fourth wall is a pile of smoldering splinters by this point.
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Bickering married couple has guests.
  • Wicked: Passionate animal rights activist with a weird skin condition learns magic, befriends the Alpha Bitch, steals her boyfriend, and sets up the Alpha Bitch as a benevolent dictator by faking her own death. Her sister also becomes dictator of an agricultural Ruritania and then dies violently (though she might have survived after all).
    • Alternately: Published Fan Fiction of L. Frank Baum's work made into a musical.
  • Wit: Crabbit, nerdy spinster dies in agony.
    • Alternatively, a professor finds an ideal candidate for his research, neglects to tell her that she's going to die and then leaves his intern to deal with it. Said intern goes on to desecrate the subject's corpse.
  • The Witches of Eastwick: Three women having affairs conjure up the devil. They all sleep with him.
  • World of Color: One of the least-loved Disney Theme Parks presents a half hour of clips and fountains arranged in a manner that doesn't really follow a plot. Each performance, only 4000 people can see the projections; everyone else who wants to watch has to settle for the backside of water.
  • Woyzeck: Play, rewritten as an opera, and then again as a rock opera, about a soldier who eats nothing but peas and then goes crazy, murders his girlfriend and maybe accidentally drowns himself.

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