It has been 20 years since the '90s teen sitcom, "Saved By the Bell," wrapped after four seasons in 1993, leaving America's youth to wait for another high school to love as much as the imaginary Bayside High.
Now, it's been immortalized in a full-fledged off-Broadway musical production: "Bayside! The Musical!" The parody, which focuses on the characters from the original sitcom, including high school sweethearts Zack Morris (portrayed in the series by Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen), wrestler and teen heartthrob A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez) and loveable nerd Screech Powers (Dustin Diamond), aims to please with over 3,000 jokes, callbacks to the show and an overdose of '90s nostalgia.
"Musical theater, especially now is tough without a hook. ["Saved By the Bell"] is something people latch on to right away," co-creator Tobly Mcsmith said. "Justin Beiber was wearing a Kelly Kapowski shirt the other day. It is very hip!"
But "Bayside!" is not the first attempt by playwrights and musicians to immortalize celebrities or pop culture phenomena through parody or tribute. Click through to see the other real-life stars, shows, and movies whose legacy lives on in theater productions.
|"Marilyn: An American Fable" (1983)|
The dramatic life of Marilyn Monroe, or Norma Jeane Mortenson, has been a go-to topic for playwrights since her untimely death due to a drug overdose at the age of 36 in 1963.
Several theatrical adaptations of her story have been produced since then, the most recent, "Norma Jeane: The Musical," currently in development for London's West End. But perhaps the production that took the most artistic liberties with her biography was the '80s Broadway musical, "Marilyn: An American Fable."
The rendition was a highly fictionalized account of Monroe's life, complete with bubble baths surrounded by dancing boys, a Greek-chorus singing commentary, and a happy ending.
Casting is important in any theatrical production, but is increasingly more important when casting actors to depict real people. When casting the part of the glamorous Coco Chanel for the late '60s Broadway musical biography of her life, "Coco," the production chose to go with someone equally glamorous, Katherine Hepburn.
Hepburn, already an icon from her work in films, was not a strong singer and apprehensive at first when she was offered the role. But after accepting, Hepburn took voice lessons and her portrayal of Chanel ultimately earned her many a standing ovation and even a Tony nomination. The musical focused on Chanel's "comeback" to the world of fashion in the '50s, after a decade of retirement.
|"The First" (1981)|
Surprisingly the world of baseball was not one newly explored by Broadway when the Jackie Robinson musical premiered in the '80s, with the 1950s classic "Damn Yankees" leading the way.
However, the focus of the musical was less about the sport, and more about how Robinson, as the first African American major league baseball player, changed the game. The musical, which starred a young David Alan Grier as Robinson, was set primarily during Robinson's first year playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Though the play was nominated for several Tonys, the scenes depicting the racism Robinson dealt with, which were interspersed with dance and song, didn't appeal to all audiences.
Some celebrity tributes focus on a specific time in their life. The 2005 Broadway musical about the late John Lennon, overseen by his wife Yoko Ono, was practically written for post-Beatles Lennon fans.
The production almost exclusively featured music from his solo career, including favorites like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine," with "The Ballad of John and Yoko" being the only original Beatles' song in the bunch.
The musical was heavily criticized for choosing to mainly focus on his relationship with Ono. Director Don Scardino made the creative choice to cast five different actors, of both sexes and different races, to play Lennon at different stages in his life, attributing this decision to the lyrics of "I Am the Walrus": "I am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together."
|"Anna Nicole" (2011 in UK, 2013 in US)|
Musicals and plays are not the only ways that writers have chosen to showcase the lives of celebrities on stage.
"Anna Nicole," an opera following the short life of Playboy Playmate and reality TV star Anna Nicole Smith, has just made its American debut at the BAM Gilman Opera House in New York City.
Many critics and traditional operagoers alike were appalled just anticipating its premiere due to the subject matter in the story of Smith's life, and following its initial opening at the Royal Opera House in London in 2011 suspicions were confirmed that it was full of profanity and explicit subject matter. But it found an audience in critics and fans who appreciated the underlying message of the effects of fame and the mass media the opera projects and has now made its way to a new audience.
|"Jerry Springer: The Opera" (2003 in UK, 2007 in US)|
Some artists find their niche in parodies. This is the case with musical theater writer Richard Thomas, who authored the British musical "Jerry Springer: The Opera," before his venture with "Anna Nicole."
The musical centers on the television talk show host Jerry Springer. It includes intense profanity and controversial topics, something the actual talk show is famous for. But it delves deeper into the alleged reasons behind Springer's persona and success, including his interactions with his inner Valkyrie and features actors who portray several religious figures, like Satan, God and Jesus.
The musical made its way to America in 2007 and was performed from Las Vegas to Minneapolis.
|"End of the Rainbow" (2005 in Sydney, 2012 in US)|
This depiction of the tragic last days of actress Judy Garland, who brought joy to many through her songs, is strangely enough not a musical, but a play that incorporates music. Set during the days of what would be her final performance at the Talk of the Town in London, the play becomes increasingly darker as it delves into her struggles with drug addiction and relationships.
To fans who love the Judy Garland from her famous performances in "The Wizard of Oz" and "Meet Me in St. Louis," but are unfamiliar with who the starlet became in later life it might be a hard to see her downward spiral.
The play, which premiered in Sydney in 2005, made it to Broadway in 2012.
|"Matt & Ben" (2003)|
The story of how two young nobodies, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, came up with the Academy Award-winning screenplay for "Good Will Hunting," is one that was showcased by every news outlet that award season. But another once-upon-a-time nobody, Mindy Kaling, was responsible for its theatrical parody, when she co-wrote and starred in the two-woman production of "Matt & Ben."
This small production was the fictionalized version of how Damon and Affleck came into possession of the screenplay, when it fell from Affleck's ceiling one evening, neatly wrapped and ready to go.
Kaling, now the star of her own sitcom, "The Mindy Project," showcased her comedic chops in this 2003 production, in which she played Affleck, that she wrote with a college pal. Impersonations of Jennifer Lopez, Gwenyth Paltrow, and J.D. Salinger are thrown in for good measure.