"25 kids in food suits, forgetting their lines. I'll definitely be at work."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, William 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 manoeuvre themselves into the lead roles, complaining/boasting about the roles they did get, or working up the confidence for a kiss scene. Also, despite real life high school plays generally being extracurricular activities rather than required participation (as grade and middle school plays usually are), you can expect every major character on the show to have some kind of role (even ones who wouldn't logically have any interest in theater whatsoever). 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 Mom 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. 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. Depending on the genre, look out for All Part of the Show.
— Calvin's Dad, Calvin and Hobbes
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Anime & Manga
- Aoi Hana revolves around several plays (Wuthering Heights among them), which function as a linking pin between two all-girl high schools, since drama club members scout actors at each other's institutes.
- 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.
- Cardcaptor Sakura:
- Sakura's brother Touya's class perform in "Cinderella"... with the genders of actors and characters reversed, and a few other character tweaks. Touya is Cinderella, while his best friend Yukito is a "magical can of mackerel", and in the anime a girl named Youko is the Prince Charming. Sakura's class performs Sleeping Beauty with supposedly random casting that includes a fair amount of gender reversing with Sakura as the Prince Charming, Syaoran as the Princess, and Yamazaki as either the Evil Fairy (manga) or the Queen Mother (anime).
- The trope is also invoked in the second movie (sans the crossdressing and gender reversion, sadly), when Naoko writes a short play for the School Festival. Sakura is cast as the Princess and Yamazaki is supposed to play her Prince Charming, but thanks to the Nothing messing around, Yamazaki is injured and Syaoran ends up as his replacement.
- 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...
- Detective Conan: A good part of the Desperate Revival arc is centered on a play where Ran is cast as a princess who is rescued by a Black Knight who conceals his identity with a Cool Mask. This coincides with Conan temporarily recovering from his de-agement - and Shinichi now desperately wants to play the Black Knight, so he can both dispell Ran's suspicions about his Secret Identity as Conan and, more importantly, he can give her a proper Love Confession, if not a marriage proposal. Since Status Quo Is God and Shinichi and Ran are practically Star-Crossed Lovers, it ends in tears.
- D.N.Angel has the characters putting on a play based on an fairytale unique to that world. It is a love story... but all the actors are the male students, providing a 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.
- In Fairy Tail, Team Natsu plays a stage play which doesn't even have a plot. The audience is first confused, but then they love the play when when Lucy's dress is burnt by Natsu and finally cut in pieces by Erza.
- This trope is rather pivotal in Figure 17 Tsubasa & Hikaru. 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. It is also a little special as anime school plays go: one, because it is 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.
- Episode 3 of FLCL revolves around Naota getting dragged into playing the title character in his school's production of "Puss in Boots". It turns out the class president rigged the votes for casting because she has something of a crush on Naota.
- In Fruits Basket, "Prince Yuki"'s Instant Fanclub takes control of the casting of their school's production of "Cinderella" and insist on casting Tohru as the evil stepsister and Yuki as the Fairy Godmother, in a jealous effort to make Tohru look bad and to prevent the two of them from being cast together as Cinderella and the Prince. Those roles go instead to disinterested Goth-girl Hanajima and violent tough-guy Kyo, respectively; needless to say, the production quickly goes wildly (and hilariously) off the rails.
- Glass Mask 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.
- 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.
- Kare Kano features the production of a play based off a script written by one of the characters, titled "Steel Snow". The actual play itself is found only in the manga as the anime ended before these chapters could be animated.
- Koko Wa Greenwood has a School Festival episode where Shun participates in a play we don't get to see except for a tiny snippet at the very end of the episode. The play? The Castle of Cagliostro, with Shun as Clarisse.
- In K-On!, the girly Mio plays Romeo and the tomboyish Ritsu plays Juliett (and Yui plays Tree G). That's Playing Against Type.
- Love Hina does a very odd variation of Journey to the West.
- Maburaho: Shikimori Kazuki has to take over the role of the male lead in a school play, after the special effects become a little too realistic. The female lead is his childhood friend with a crush on him.
- Mahoraba: The characters are "actors" in the children's story written by Shiratori Ryuushi.
- Maison Ikkoku has a version of this, where the Puppet Club puts on a puppet play for preschoolers, with everything going perfectly. Until Godai's love interest is drafted into helping out, and squeezes into the booth with him, prompting him to bungle all his lines. The kids enjoy it even more.
- Marginal Prince has the main characters perform a play about the legend that lays behind the founder of their school for the island's cultural festival. Of course, since it's an all-boys school, female roles are played by the guys as well (in this case Mikhail, Henri eventually dropped out of his princess role). However, the play itself isn't really in focus anymore at some point when Joshua has an BSOD on stage and the attempted assassination of him begins to surface.
- In Maria-sama 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
- 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, rather than the ubiquitous Romeo and Juliet.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch does, fittingly, "The Little Mermaid" in Episode 29.
- Tsundere Chitoge (forced into faking a relationship with male lead Raku as the premise of the whole story), pouting over dismissive words of her supposedly-fake boyfriend earlier, passes the natural offer of co-starring with him in the Romeo and Juliet play of their class and keeps her distance, but ultimately has to participate without any rehearsal. The play quickly becomes ad-libbed and spoofed, most of Nisekoi major characters get to make stage appearance in costumes, with fat justifications of their roles, bringing their off-stage feelings towards "Romeo" into the fray. Most of the set is destroyed by the end, but the play is well-received.
- As consolation for the benched "Juliet"/Can't Spit It Out/mutual-love-interest-to-Raku, the two privately enact a scene from the play after the festival. And Raku botches his lines.
- Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru:
- The all-girls' school puts on Romeo and Juliet, with Mizuho (campus idol and secret male) as Romeo and Takako (tsundere and student council president) as Juliet. Fitting, because Mizuho's and Takako's families are rivals.
- A second play, an original fantasy, is staged at the same festival, starring younger girl Kana as the spirit of a cherry tree.
- 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.
- Pretty Cure:
- Futari wa Pretty Cure does Romeo and Juliet with the main characters. At least, that's what the play starts out as — between the director's edits and an attack by a villain during the performance, the end result is almost completely unrecognizable.
- In Futari Wa Pretty Cure Splash Star, the main characters and two schoolmates play a story with paper doll. The story is based of the friendship of one of those students with a kid who will move from the town, so the story is based of reality.
- On the other side of things, a late episode of HeartCatch Pretty Cure! has the main heroines put on a puppet play for a bunch of kindergartners... of the Pretty Cures. They end up dressing up their fairies as the Cures and use dinosaur puppets to represent a Monster of the Week... which eventually becomes the Monster of the Week.
- The fifth episode of Smile Pretty Cure! has them doing a puppet show of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".
- Ranma ½ does 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 gives up and goes out as an alternate Juliet. Akane (who had always played Romeo in grade-school and desperately wanted to be Juliet this time) is not amused.
- 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 for one or another reason, so Hilarity Ensues. This episode is also the source of the Anime meme of "talent = big boobs", thanks to Bowdlerization.
- School Rumble has the characters act in an original play although as most things in a comedy anime, not everything goes as planned. The play is a combination of Sleeping Beauty and Seven Samurai, with a Little Red Riding Hood thrown in (manga only).
- Sgt. Frog
- Episode 29, 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 184, does Romeo and Juliet in Natsumi's school play. At least, in a turn of events, Giroro lands the role of Juliet, with Natsumi taking on the part of Romeo.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- One story in Sunnyville Stories has the Sunnyville Junior Theater Club put on a play of Cinderella for the town. Hilarity Ensues during the performance.
- The Addams Family:
- 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.
- In Big Daddy, the five-years-old boy Julian is given the role of Benjamin Flanklin in a Founding Fathers school play. Sonny helps him rehearse the play during the montage scene.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hamlet Two is about a school production of the eponymous play.
- Love Actually has the traditional British Nativity play, and parodies the practice of shoehorning every kid who wants a part into the production.
Daisy: [I'm] first lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
- 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.
- The Sixth Sense: Cole Sear appears in a school play about/as King Arthur near the end.
- Done with the leads in A Walk to Remember. Jamie (Mandy Moore) undergoes such a transformation on the stage that Landon forgets his lines, and basically loses his composure.
- The whole plot on Were the World Mine revolves around a put on scene of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- 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.
- In The Baby-Sitters Club, one of the specials is about the club members and babysitting charges appearing in a musical.
- The Berenstain Bears Get Stage Fright has Sister Bear dealing with the titular problem when she's cast as the heroine of "Rumpelstiltskin"; specifically, she's afraid she'll forget her lines. Instead, she manages to save the show by helping her overconfident brother when he forgets his lines. This book was adapted into an episode of the Saturday Morning Cartoon in The '80s.
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The notorious Herdmans, six troublemaking kids who have just started attending Sunday school, are the only volunteers to play Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, and the Angel of the Lord (none of the other kids want to risk their wrath by volunteering themselves) in the church's Nativity pageant. They don't actually know the Nativity story, and that's the start of the trouble. However, owing in part to their disadvantaged lifestyles coloring how they approach their roles, they wind up unintentionally making the actual show more meaningful than anyone had reason to suspect.
- Several Chalet School books feature a Christmas play or pantomime, which often serves as a conclusion (such as in Highland Twins) or a plot device (Adrienne at the Chalet School, where Janet Henderson's dress catches fire during the play and Adrienne saves her, ending the tensions between them).
- In one of the Just William stories, William's school is visited by a Shakespeare expert who gives a "Shakespeare for dummies" lecture (which is severely disrupted by William's enthusiastic incomprehension), after which the school prepares to put on its own performance of a Shakespeare play. William loves the idea, tells all his friends that he will be in the leading role, and is not at all happy to be told that he has been given an insignificant non-speaking part, so he comes up with a plan of his own. The resulting performance ends up consisting entirely of William, in a costume largely of his own devising, charging around the stage determinedly and inaccurately reciting the "To be or not to be" speech from Hamlet, pursued by the rest of the cast and the teachers desperately and unsuccessfully trying to stop him.
- Lolita. Control Freak Humbert Humbert compromises on this as an acceptable form of recreation for Dolores "Lolita" Haze, unaware that the playwright is a fellow pedophile seeking to steal Dolores away from him.
- 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.
- The One In The Middle Is The Green Kangaroo, a book written by Judy Blume, is about a kid who has the main part in a school play.
- In Judy Blume's Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great, a side story in the Fudge series, the Tarrytown summer camp program that Sheila and Libby were part of is hosting a production of Peter Pan. Libby wants to get the role of Wendy, but instead is given that of Captain Hook, which she despises but makes the best use of and even gets applause for performing well. Besides Maryann Markman as Wendy being unable to recite her lines, another problem with the production is that the archway kept falling to the side, Sheila and her friend Mouse have to hold it up the entire time.
- Planet Tad:
- Tad is forced to help his sister Sophie prepare for her role in the school play of Hansel & Gretel, then ends up playing Hansel because he knows all the lines when the kid who was supposed to play the role had the stomach flu, in exchange for a Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition DVD boxset.
- In Return to Planet Tad, Tad is forced to participating in a school play in order to raise a bad grade, but ends up not being able to perform when he himself gets sick.
- In Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Laura Beauchamp organizes theatrical clubs at every school and religious institute in Putnam's Landing, with her 60-year-old husband Willard inevitably among the amateurs enlisted to act in her productions. The arrival of a Nike missile base in Putnam's Landing gives her a new casting idea for her planned Fourth of July pageant, Sweet Land of Liberty, a three-act reenactment of the landing of the Redcoats on Ram's Head Beach in 1778. With the Minutemen played by the New Delinquents of Webster High School and the Redcoats played by members of the 992nd Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion only a few years older, unrehearsed fighting ensues.
- 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.
- 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 fairytale, The Fountain of Fair Fortune. The play ended badly, resulting in a ban on any future productions.
- Karen Kingsbury's novel Unlocked has its teenage heroine Ella cast as the heroine in what might be her high school's final production (due to budget cuts), the stage adaptation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The events of the story are reflected in the rekindling of her toddlerhood friendship with Holden, a noncommunicative case of Hollywood Autism who is the brunt of bullying by such people as her Jerk Jock boyfriend Jake, and who is responding to the music coming from the rehearsal room. Arranging for him to sit in on rehearsals, she ultimately helps Holden become far more communicative ( freeing him from his curse of autism), and he plays the Beast's transformed self in the show's final scene.
- A Wolf In The Soul has main character Greg playing the Cowardly Lion in a Hebrew-language production of The Wizard of Oz, as part of its demonstration that he was an animal long before he ever became a werewolf.
Live Action TV
- On According to Jim, the girls' school put up a Thanksgiving play which Andy rewrites to represent the truth:
Ruby: Welcome to the New World!
Gracie: Please don't kill us and steal our land.
- America's Funniest Home Videos: Real Life amateur play and dance recital bloopers are prime fodder. Common blunders include: flying harnesses that don't work properly (usually in school productions of Peter Pan, but there's also been a Superman turned upside down and a Jesus Christ who accidentally gets his underwear revealed to the crowd), misbehaving dogs (usually Annie's Sandy), dancers colliding with each other, falling scenery and/or setpieces, wigs and costumes falling off or apart, and many, many people falling off or through the stage.
- Arrested Development's school play episode features Maeby and Steve Holt (Steve Holt!) as Benedick and Beatrice, respectively, in Much Ado About Nothing.
- On Big Fat Quiz of the Year, the children of Mitchell Brook Primary School put on a play or two depicting the news of the year.
- Boston Public features Our Town where George and Emily are lesbians.
- The Brady Bunch does Romeo and Juliet with Marcia playing Juliet, Cindy's fairy princess play, plus a play about the American Revolution where Peter plays Benedict Arnold. (The family also did a backyard production of "Snow White" and a home movie about the Pilgrims.)
- The Degrassi franchise has done this almost from its 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 is living in a halfway house for minor crimes. Griff sees 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 brings two characters together. In a separate episode, the play is performed with ironically appropriate casting.
- 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).
- In an episode of D:TNG season 1, the "Romeo and Juliet" is done, all-around-popular guy Jimmy is cast as Romeo and Queen Bee Paige as Juliet; Paige tries 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 is put on that chronicles the history of the school; while the actors in the play themselves are unimportant, it servs as a creative backdrop for the utter destruction of Spinner and Darcy's relationship (they actually break up and get 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 has been reconsidering getting back together with Jimmy at the time; this leads her to realize they have changed too much, and she lets him down.
- In Season 3, the class splits into groups and writes their own plays. Jimmy is directing his group, and casts the insecure Terri as the lead. Terri's boyfriend Rick, the child of two actors, however, keeps giving Terri advice that goes against Jimmy's commands. She eventually follows Rick's advice and is humiliated; this, along with other acts, helps Terri realize Rick was controlling (and abusive, eventually), so she dumps him.
- In Season 11, Eli writes a play that is pretty much about his break-up with Clare and his ensuing nervous breakdown.
- In season 12, Eli decides he wants to do another play, but ends up having to do it with the New Transfer Student. She decides she wants to do Romeo and Juliet In order to get control back from the pushy and religious Becky, he turns the play into Romeo and Jules.
- 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.
- 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.
- Freaks and Geeks: Episode "I'm With The Band." There's a brief scene in the lunch room where a couple students are dressed like cowboys and promoting the McKinley High School rendition of the musical Oklahoma!. After this brief 30 second scene, the play is never again mentioned in the series, suggesting of what little importance it is to the main characters (or, for that matter, most of the school).
- 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.
- 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.
- The Golden Girls has one where the girls fill in for a play of Henny Penny at the school where Dorothy teaches. 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.
- Gossip Girl has the main cast performing The Age of Innocence, with much of the episodes plot paralleling that of the play. The scenario was made realistic. The play is a senior class play, hence all the main characters are cast in it and the episode aired after a month-long hiatus where rehearsals could have taken place. But then it all goes on 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.
- Growing Pains does Our Town, with the emphasis on George (played by Mike).
- An episode of Hannah Montana has a drama class with Miley playing opposite Oliver in a scene from Romeo and Juliet.
- Higher Ground has a slight twist on this: one of the students fully re-writes Romeo and Juliet as "Bobby Joe and Jillian" to West Side Story-style.
- Home Improvement does Romeo and Juliet with Randy playing Romeo. However the plot of the episode revolves as much around Wilson (director) and Tim (set designer) butting heads as it does Randy.
- 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.
- Malcolm in the Middle: While still in middle school, Malcolm gets cast in a high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as Puck. Much mirth is had by his brothers about him playing a fairy. Lois doesn't help matters any.
"Not just any fairy, the head fairy!"
- The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis: The reunion special Bring Me The Head of Dobie Gillis features 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.)
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers has one episode with Kimberly and Bulk in a production of "Rumpelstiltskin". The production seems to last less than five minutes, and no one involved seems to know the story very well: the one bit we see involves Bulk missing his cue and Kimberly repeatedly calling out "Rumplestiltskin!"
- Monty Python's Flying Circus has a version of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers which goes a bit wrong due to a severe shortage of cast members, leading to: "Do you four boys take these two girls to be your seven brides?"
- Moonlighting's: The child's dream sequence rule applies The Taming of the Shrew fantasy. No character departures necessary.
- My Brother And Me has the older brother's school performing Robin Hood, with his sister designing the costumes. He initially balks at playing Robin Hood because of the tights - leaving the role to his friend Goo, until he learns his crush got Maid Marian's part. His sister helps him get the role back by accidentally-on-purpose goofing up Goo's tights (she doesn't like him that much).
- My So-Called Life spends more than one episode building up to a play of Our Town, but the series has got cancelled before showing the actual performance.
- Neds Declassified School Survival Guide has an entire episode revolve around the school production of Romeo and Juliet. Though, instead of trying and taking the lead role, Ned schemes to get Cookie to play Romeo, since his kiss "won't steal Suzie", who is playing Juliet, from him. Moze, being the stage manager, tries to stop all of Ned and Cookie's zany schemes. Hilarity Ensues.
- The tendency of TV and film works to use a school play scenario (usually Shakespeare) to advance romantic and other plotlines is lampooned in Night and Day - as Rachel Culgrin and Josh Alexander pen a Shakespearean medley, throwing all of the Bard's greatest characters onto the stage simultaneously. The storyline continues for several weeks.
- 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."
- Saved by the Bell does "Snow White" (titled "Snow White And The Seven Dorks"), but turns it into a rap that lasts approximately 45 seconds.
- Skins: In the "Sketch" episode of the second series, 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 Suite Life of Zack and Cody
- An episode is centered around a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- 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 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.
- In Wishbone, the students do The Tempest. Which prompts Wishbone to begin imagining.. The Tempest.
- The Wonder Years does Our Town with the focus on Emily (played by Winnie.)
- The Worst Witch TV series features two (nearly).
- 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.
- 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... however, the mask for the title role is an evil one, that calls forth the Night Queen (called Nyx in the orignal Japanese) from her slumber.
- Tokimeki Memorial: A school play being played in the School Festival is a staple of the series, usually courtesy of the Drama Club. If you're a member of this Club, you'll get a role in it.
- 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 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.
- During the School Festival in Nameless - The One Thing You Must Recall -, the Drama Club stages what is stated to be a story about an "Action Hero" although the costuming looks to be vaguely historical European. Red is always cast as the hero, and depending on the route, the heroine can be played by Eri or Lance.
- 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.
- Shall We Date?: Wizardess Heart features a school play in the side story "The Performing Festival." Shenanigans ensue when Elias and the protagonist, unwillingly saddled with the lead roles, discover that they're expected to perform a Big Damn Kiss at the climax of the play.
- A 2012 arc in Kevin & Kell had the Caliban Academy do West Habitat Story, with Fiona as Maria and Rudy originally cast as Bernardo - then, when that got weird, Chino.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a 2013 arc of Roommates the drama department of the St. Jude University wants to do Love Never Dies. The catch is? They have Erik on staff and he is not amused.
- In UC, all four main characters start the comic by participating in one of these. Though, there are large hints that in this school play not all is as fictional as it seems.
- A brief Story Arc in WCI High shows the school production of Romeo and Juliet, heavily parodying numerous cliches. Juliet is played by a nine-feet-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. Normally talking in Hulk Speak, she shows 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 having 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 The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, the students perform Macbeth in Space. There was also talk of Hamlet on Ice.
- 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.
- 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. And then he and Jake kissed in the final scene. Off screen, but still...
- As Told by Ginger features two.
- One play is a plot device for rivalry between Ginger and Dodie where Dodie is desperate to get the lead role as a boy she likes is playing the other lead. Ginger ends up getting the part (when she didn't even want to audition) and the boy falls for her instead.
- The Halloween Episode features an Expy of The Crucible called "I Spy A Witch". Miranda frames Ginger for defacing the school statue and replaces her as the lead. When Ginger finds out the truth, she dons a costume and sneaks on stage during the play to out Miranda. This then ends up changing the ending of the play so that the lead is found guilty to be a witch after all and burned at the stake.
- Beetlejuice episode "Stage Fright" has Claire Brewster sabotaging Lydia's audition for Miss Shannon's School For Girls' play of "Romeo and Juliet." Beetlejuice gets even by taking over Claire's body and making a shambles out of the production. Oddly enough, the school's main backer loved it.
- Beverly Hills Teens: In the episode "Casting Call". Troy gets the part of Romeo, and a couple of girls are very eager to play Juliet.
- Code Lyoko:
- Season 1 episode "Laughing Fit" parodies this trope, with the obligatory Romeo and Juliet. Not only is it rather bad, the entire production seems to be managed entirely by Sissi.
- 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, too, has a balcony scene, and they don't want to waste a good stage prop.
- Cow and Chicken has 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.
- Darkwing Duck: This gives Gosalyn a lot of misery, since her father is in a bit of a 10-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...
- Doug's auteur sister Judy puts 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 features 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.
- The Emperor's New School: Back when Yzma was a student at the nameless academy (Kuzco Academy existed decades before somebody named it), Yzma felt bad that her rival got the main roles and she was a tree.
- Franklin: Three of these are present in the Animated Adaptation.
- The first comes in the first season story "Franklin's School Play" (based on the book by the same name) and features The Nutcracker as the play. In the story, Franklin is the Nutcracker Prince, but had to overcome stage fright to perform the role.
- The second play is in the third season story "Franklin's Starring Role," a performance of Sleeping Beauty. In this story, Franklin doesn't have stage fright anymore, and is upset when he is assigned the role of stage manager, thinking his teacher Mr. Owl doesn't think he's good enough to have a part. In the end, he learns that Mr. Owl gave him the role of stage manager because he felt Franklin was responsible and he wanted to give others a chance to play roles after Franklin had the lead in the last play.
- The final play is in the film Franklin and the Green Knight, a performance of a fairy tale picture book popular in Woodland: The Quest of the Green Knight. Franklin again takes the lead role this time, as the Green Knight, though the film is also about him thinking that he could truly become the Green Knight and bring Spring, as the character in the fairy tail does.
- Hey Arnold!: One episode, Arnold falls 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.
- Home Movies has Bye Bye Greasy, a parody of the 1950s-set high school theater warhorses Bye Bye Birdie and Grease.
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures features an episode where Tony really begins to blow off school in his determination to take his dad's company back. When he's actually convinced to take his schoolwork seriously, he has to catch up and prepare for a performance of "Hamlet" for drama class.
Tony: So what's it about?Pepper: It's about a guy... who's pulled in a million different directions... [realizing what she's saying] while trying to avenge his dead father.Tony: Heh, no, really, what's it about? [beat] ...Are you kidding me?!
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Not really the main focus of the episode, but the episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" has Filly!Rarity designing costumes for a play. Despite the teacher liking them, she thinks they're too bland. That's when her horn leads her to a geode, which she uses to make them more attractive. And that's how she earned her Cutie Mark.
- Pepper Ann does Romeo and Juliet with Pepper Ann naturally gunning for the role of Juliet. She doesn't get it and ends up cast as The Nurse instead. However at the last minute the actress playing Juliet falls ill and Pepper Ann replaces her...except she has to wear her Juliet costume over the nurse's fat suit.
- The Proud Family: In "Romeo Must Wed", the students of Willy T. Ribs put on a production of Romeo and Juliet.
- 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.
- Sabrina: The Animated Series:
- Romeo and Juliet gets involved in a sub-plot. Sabrina and Gem intend to get the part of Juliet and must have the meaning of the role properly researched for their callbacks. This leads to Hilda and Zelda conjuring up the actual Romeo to help her study. Hilarity Ensues. Sabrina learns An Aesop and bags the role though when the play is actually shown, it isn't the balcony scene.
- In Sabrina's Secret Life, the play is 'Theatre/'A Midsummer Night's Dream'' and Sabrina and Cassandra are gunning for the role of Titania the fairy queen. Cassandra gets the part and Sabrina is made producer instead.
- Another episode has Sabrina and Cassandra gunning for the role of Ophelia in Hamlet. Cassandra is forced to stay after class after making a mess and has to miss the auditions, but sabotages Sabrina's audition by covering herself in an invisibility slime. Maritza ends up getting the part despite not even auditioning.
- The Simpsons: Springfield Elementary has had and has many performances. Some episodes have included talent shows (one featuring students, the other faculty).
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 original Christmas Episode opens at a Christmas pageant.
- 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 — Ralph, whose crush on Lisa was rebuffed, channels his heartache into his performance. Meanwhile, Bart's performance as John Wilkes Booth by way of The Terminator was not well received by Mrs. Hoover (especially once he tries to go after Chester A. Arthur after "killing" Lincoln).
- "I Love Lisa" also mentions the unsuccessful Fire Drill Follies. ("You opened the show with a fire drill and everyone cleared out!")
- Principal Skinner organizes a play in an attempt to convince Mr. Burns to donate money to the underfunded school. It includes several peculiar moments such as...
- 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.
- 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.
- The Christmas Episode of Teacher's Pet had Mrs. Helperman trying to write a new school play for the holiday season; the principal wanted her to go with the school's usual play, "A Christmasy Christmas in Christmas Town", while she wanted to write something more inclusive to all faiths. Meanwhile, Leonard was disgruntled at getting the part of Elf #5 (who only says "Yes, that is true.")
- In Timothy Goes to School, Mrs. Jenkin's class did one about dental hygiene. Parts were assigned randomly— Yoko was chosen to a be a cavity, but didn't want to be. In the end, she found a way to enjoy the part when she used her violin to create a sound effect suitable for a cavity.
- W.I.T.C.H. 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 has heavy Foreshadowing of later episodes. In original comic, the play goes off without a hitch.