Over the course of seven seasons, ABC’s sitcom The Goldbergs has offered its fair share of tributes to musical theatre: send-ups of Fiddler on the Roof, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. (Not to mention the casting of stage veteran Ana Gasteyer as drama teacher Ms. Cinoman.)
In the April 15 episode, creator Adam F. Goldberg takes his autobiographical series to the next level with a storyline inspired by the time his high school produced his original musical The Playground.
“People often assume the craziest, broadest moments on The Goldbergs are pure fiction, but in most cases, it’s not,” says Goldberg. “Back in high school, I really did put on The Playground, which did indeed feature ninjas, a talking Tootsie Roll, and a musical number where my friend Emmy sang about being a flower.
“The whole night of theatre was packed with absurd comedy and one of my best high school experiences. I’m excited to share some of the actual musical from my collection in the episode.”
On The Goldbergs, when Ms. Cinoman cannot secure the rights to put on a famous musical for their spring show at William Penn High School, Adam (the character) offer his original show, The Return of the Formica King. (The fictional musical was written for the series by Aaron Kaczander and directed by Lea Thompson.)
Goldberg began writing thanks to his exposure to theatre, after seeing Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs during his freshman year of high school. “That year, I became obsessed with playwriting and came up with this crazy idea that by the time I was 21 and graduating college, I would have written 100 plays,” says Goldberg—who had written 50 by the time he enrolled at NYU. “My playwriting experiences as a teenager was really preparing me for writing The Goldbergs,” he says.
The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8PM ET on ABC.