Sometimes, the best parts of movies or television are hidden in snippets of productions which you never fully see. In this case, we are talking about plays which are able to be viewed by fictional audiences, but not by us. Personally, we think this a crime. These pieces of audacious entertainment should absolutely be put on real-life theater stage. With enough input by the original creators, these plays could be surprise smashes that could run for years.
10. Oh Africa, Brave Africa (American Psycho)
In the 2000 movie American Psycho, serial killer Patrick Bateman gives an intriguing account of his last meeting with hatchet victim Paul Allen. When Detective Donald Kimball questions Batman, the Psycho responds that he last saw Allen at a new play called “Oh Africa, Brave Africa, ” which he describes as “a laugh riot.”
It is simply a throwaway line in the movie, however it does fire the imagination. The 1980s were full of misguided attempts to help the African continent. If “Oh Africa, Brave Africa” was a Broadway musical set in the 1980s, then a large part of the joke, kitsch, and fun of it all could be that the producers were probably completely serious while creating a comedy classic. Try and imagine a melodrama with preachy dialogue, accompanied by the music of Queen. The moment someone climbs a fictional mountain to protest Apartheid while doing a glam rock version of “Ebony and Ivory” to display the dangers of a forbidden love affair in Johannesburg, Bateman could realistically see it being all a joke. It would be a joke, but it would not be one the producers get. It would, however, be a classic to this day.
9. Funny Boy (Gilligan’s Island)
The idea of a musical version of Hamlet is generally panned as a terrible idea. However, the stage, television, and film that suggest the idea is generally universally lauded. In the Gilligan’s Island third season show “The Producer,” the cast performs a song entitled “Funny Boy,” which is part of a musical version of Hamlet. TV Guide ranked “The Producer” as the third greatest sitcom episode of all time. There is no reason why they can’t recast the Gilligan’s Island troupe for Broadway’s sake, and have them do a complete run-through of their production. Show stopper, indeed.
8. Manhattan Melodies (The Muppets Take Manhattan)
OK, so how would a big budget Broadway musical starring the Muppets not be awesome? That being said, “Manhattan Melodies” (the play that they keep trying to make in the movie The Muppets Take Manhattan) has the benefit of actually taking its cue and vision from Jim Henson. If real, the story of a frog, especially with the added “dogs and bears and chickens and whatever,” conquering the Big Apple and marrying that special pig of his would be a natural.
Going back to the original Muppet Show, audiences are used to the sight of Muppets on stage. If they used the songs from the movie as well as an emotional performance of “The Rainbow Connection,” you could add a couple new show stoppers and tour this one for years. If The Lion King can be a critical and box office smash, Manhattan Melodies as the very least deserves a chance.
7. Tru Starring Brian Griffin (Family Guy)
In the Family Guy spoof of the Y2K scare entitled Da Boom, there is an inspired idea which really needs to be fleshed out on stage. In a post-apocalyptic theater, there is a scene of the Brian (the dog) doing a one-dog show as Truman Capote called Tru. Now, in the late 1980s, there was an actual one-man show called Tru, done by Jay Preston Allen. However, with Brian’s re-imagining, you would have to add several factors. First of all, being post-apocalyptic, Brian would not have an actual script. That is how you get the “I’m such a bitch” line in the cartoon.
The truly great meta portion would be staging the entire play as if it was done in the alternate reality of Da Boom. This could be explained to the audience in the introduction, welcoming them to the New Quahog theater. In addition, you would actually get Seth McFarlane to dress up in a dog outfit, in order to deliver the play as Brian Griffin. Audiences would flock to see McFarlane on stage delivering comedy that Brian would have no clue that the audience was not taking completely seriously.
6. Prisoners of Love (The Producers)
At the end of The Producers, something called Prisoners of Love is hinted at. Of course, the joke is that Prisoners of Love is being done completely by male prisoners. Basically, it would be Jailhouse Rock meets Brokeback Mountain. The lone exception is at the end of the 2005 movie, when it appears to focus on an all-female prison. Of course, this could be merely a scene introducing a warden visiting a female prison, before he goes on to fall in love with a male prisoner.
Basically, try and imagine The Shawshank Redemption where Andy and Red have a love affair spanning decades, with songs featuring lyrics by Tim Rice. Thanks to old-timey intolerance, Prisoners of Love might not been a tour-worthy show in the past, but society may have finally caught up to the concept. The key would have to be bright, happy, tunes that have no clue that they would offend anyone.
5. Peter Griffin Presents A Peter Griffin Production of The King And I (Family Guy)
The is definitely not the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of The King and I. As a matter of fact, the Peter Griffin-produced edition from the episode The King is Dead has more in common with Flash Gordon than classic Broadway, and has a Rocky Horror Picture Show cult following just waiting to be birthed.
In this version, the main character is still Anna, only now she’s A.N.N.A (Automaton Nuclear Neo-Humanoid Android,) a fat bulky robot ninja. A.N.N.A. comes from the Planet England and has traveled to the Planet Siam in order to overthrow the despotic rulers in the name of the United States of America. After the “9th Nuclear War,” the world is “a grim future filled with lots of explosions and partial nudity.” There is an army of bikini clad hot daughters of the King who just happen to regularly participate in “all female sex orgies.” A.N.N.A. is sent in to clean up the royal house. You have to love any concept that could literally be re-named Plan 10 From Outer Space.
4. Hamlet 2 (Hamlet 2)
If you have never seen the movie Hamlet 2, then you have missed one of the smartest comedies in the last three decades. The movie revolves around a drama teacher who is informed that his department will be cut at the end of the term. Does he give up? Never. He decides to go out in a bang and set a sequel to Hamlet set among American teenagers. Hamlet lives due to fortuitous time travel. Along the way, Hamlet meets Jesus and teenage girls get inspired. The signature song that we see is entitled “Rock Me Sexy Jesus.” It is so unbelievably terrible that it would automatically qualify as a must-see.
The play itself would probably morph into Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Springtime For Hitler. The goal here would be to be as offensive and catchy as humanly (or even maybe inhumanly) possible. Theater could always use a kick in the pants, and a full version of Hamlet 2 would be such a spin move it could qualify for a Tekken game.
3. Elephant! The Musical (The Tall Guy)
If you have never seen the 1989 comedy The Tall Guy, then you are heartily encouraged to go out and rent or see it as soon as possible. The movie stars Jeff Goldblum as a down-on-his-luck actor who plays the straight man to a boisterous comedian. Goldblum’s character is literally billed as The Tall Guy. After the firing, he finds work in the musical Elephant!, a musical version of David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. The song that we hear is entitled “He’s Packing His Trunk.” At the end of the show, they talk about “an angel packing big ears.”
The movie describes the play as a “nasty send-up of Andrew Lloyd Webber.” For the record, the world needs a lot more nasty send-ups of Andrew Lloyd Webber. The world also needs this combination of Dumbo and Les Miserables. The only thing that would make the play concept better is if Disney/Pixar actually turned it into a musical cartoon.
2. Planet of the Apes: The Musical (The Simpsons)
Bart Simpson said it best: “This play has everything.” In the episode A Fish Called Selma, Troy McClure stars in a musical version of The Planet of the Apes. The high water mark is the parody of Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” entitled “Help Me Dr. Zaius.” You literally can’t forget lines like “I hate every ape I see / from chimpan-a to chimpan-zee.” This play needs to be fully fleshed out, just to see what else they would come up with.
Another reason for it to exist is that, in today’s world, parody increasingly focuses on potty humor and pratfalls; there needs to be some sort of reminder that parody can actually be a legitimate art form. The only sad part is that Phil Hartman (the voice of McClure) is not around to star in the production live. However, if done correctly, the play could be a fitting homage to Hartman’s legacy.
1. Springtime For Hitler (The Producers)
Hey, The Producers again! This time, we focus on the horrible play the two producers attempt to intentionally create, Springtime For Hitler. In the 1968 version, Hitler is played by actor Lorenzo St. Dubois (LSD), who portrays Hitler as a completely clueless stoner. In the 2005 edition, the LSD character is done away with completely, and Hitler is done by flamboyantly gay director Roger Elizabeth DeBris. There is no reason why the stage production of Springtime cannot portray Hitler as both incredibly gay and completely stoned. The audience would get the joke that Springtime is a parody, in spite of the best intentions of The Producers. Besides, a great curiosity would be what other songs could be added to this “gay romp for Adolf and Ava.”