Let's Put on a Show!
December 1, 2009 6:00 PM   Subscribe

What are some movies, shows, sketches, etc. where amateurs put on a show? Especially comedies, but any genre will help.

I'm doing some research for a show I'm writing that involves amateurs putting on a show, and want to see what else is out there. "Waiting for Guffman" and The Muppets come to mind, but I'm sure there's more.
posted by hellbient to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Waiting For Guffman, Rushmore, School of Rock
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 6:01 PM on December 1, 2009

A Mid Summer Night's Dream. The lowly working class are going to put on a play for their prince's wedding. Just one of the many story lines in that play.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:02 PM on December 1, 2009

This made me think of "The Full Monty" and "Be Kind Rewind"
posted by DarkForest at 6:06 PM on December 1, 2009

Rules of the Game, Hamlet
posted by minkll at 6:07 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Continuing the Wes Anderson theme, young Margot's animal play in "The Royal Tennenbaums."

A lot of movies climax in a talent show, if that counts. "About a Boy" and "Napoleon Dynamite" come to mind, but I'm sure there are many more.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:14 PM on December 1, 2009

posted by lois1950 at 6:21 PM on December 1, 2009

How about the Dracula Puppet Musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall? (link to song - actual puppet show occurs later in the movie.)
posted by o0dano0o at 6:32 PM on December 1, 2009

Zack and Miri Make A Porno, directed by Kevin Smith
posted by lizbunny at 6:41 PM on December 1, 2009

There's an amateur POW drag show in The Bridge On The River Kwai.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:50 PM on December 1, 2009

There is also that Christmas show put on by school kids near the end of Love Actually.
posted by o0dano0o at 7:05 PM on December 1, 2009

Waterboys and Swing Girls by Shinobu Yaguchi. Linda Linda Linda by Nobuhiro Yamashita. Hula Girls by Sang-il Lee. Chekeraccho!! to list a few. I might be missing a few other obvious examples, but this is actually a really popular theme in Japanese film.
posted by misozaki at 7:11 PM on December 1, 2009

The episode of Arrested Development where people "reenact" famous pieces of art on stage.

Not sure if this counts, but there is the beauty pageant at the end of Little Miss Sunshine.

And what about the Wayne's World movies?
posted by o0dano0o at 7:29 PM on December 1, 2009

Not sure if you're including novels, but... the main characters in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park plan on acting out Elizabeth Inchbald's play "Lovers' Vows," but never actual do so.
posted by veryhappyheidi at 7:39 PM on December 1, 2009

There is a brief burlesque show in Das Boot, if you count a guy on a submarine using oranges tied with string as boobs.

Or, if you can find it Musical Mutiny, where a bunch of amateur musicians take the stage at a SeaWorld-like park after Iron Butterfly leaves the stage in the middle of a show when they find out they won't get paid. Also features a ghost pirate that claims to be from the marketing department of the marine amusement park, allowing all patrons to enter the show for free.
posted by chambers at 7:46 PM on December 1, 2009

Not amateurs, but they sure act like it: Noises Off. And, depending on how you view it, parts of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
posted by knile at 7:59 PM on December 1, 2009

Babes In Arms
posted by SisterHavana at 8:09 PM on December 1, 2009

There is a brief solo amateur drag show in Shackleton.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:03 PM on December 1, 2009

Ethan Hawke's character in Dead Poets Society acts in an amateur performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:16 PM on December 1, 2009

School play in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Art dioramas in an episode of Gilmore Girls.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:01 PM on December 1, 2009

Roomba Cinema.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:15 PM on December 1, 2009

Love's Labour's Lost: as with Midsummer Night's Dream, there's a group of characters who put on a play ineptly at the end, and are mocked for it. We don't get to see much of the rehearsal/prep process, though.

High School Musical 1, 2 and 3: crucially for the Let's Put On A Show genre, there's also a lot of debate about whether the show is a good idea, who's going to be in it, what it's going to be about, who's going to get the best roles, all that stuff. And there's an amazing baseball-versus-singing number in the second movie which is basically the crowning achievement of twenty-first century culture to date. I have spent the last five minutes desperately trying not to write another four paragraphs about how great it is, and as you can see, only partly succeeding.

A Midwinter's Tale, if I remember correctly, has some out-of-work professionals and some amateurs putting on Hamlet. It's okay.

TV tropes has disappointingly few examples, for a change, but does mention Babes in Arms as the apparent source of the let's-put-on-a-show-in-the-old-barn phrase, and The Muppets Take Manhattan.
posted by severalbees at 10:49 PM on December 1, 2009

Cosi, in which the inmates of a mental institution put on a production of Cosi Fan Tutte.
posted by ninazer0 at 10:52 PM on December 1, 2009

If you're interested in talent show-type performances as well, Dan in Real Life features a family talent show where, individually or in groups, they perform (a bit of opera, a song, an impression, etc.) for each other.
posted by vespertine at 11:40 PM on December 1, 2009

The Our Gang or Little Rascals series is just what you are looking for as an early example in cinema; young children and their assorted adventures which culminated, in more than a few instances, with a show/spectacle finale. The film that worked this concept was a parody of Broadway Melody of 1938, The Our Gang Follies of 1938

Let us not forget the musical, Singing in the Rain, which had film within film performances with the main one being, The Dancing Cavalier. Ah Gene Kelley, I miss you.
posted by jadepearl at 1:42 AM on December 2, 2009

Hamlet 2
posted by zanni at 3:54 AM on December 2, 2009

Most of the staff of The Office (NBC) do a table read of Michael Scott's script, "Threat Level Midnight", in the episode, "The Client."
posted by getawaysticks at 5:40 AM on December 2, 2009

Another puppet show in Being John Malkovich, amateur theatricals in Little Women.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:58 AM on December 2, 2009

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Nightman Cometh
posted by Midnight Rambler at 9:23 AM on December 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

The sisters in Little Women put on plays a lot.

Jane Eyre has a scene where the guests in the house play an elaborate version of charades with costumes and props.
posted by CathyG at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2009

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