Hollywood Movie to Broadway Musical: Past, Present and Future
Would the movie Forrest Gump make a great musical, or must this never happen? How good a Broadway musical could be made from the movies Mean Girls or Moulin Rouge? Clue or Clueless?
Those are some of the suggestions so far in response to the Ghost ticket giveaway contest questions: What movie would make a good Broadway musical? OR: What movie should never be made into a Broadway musical?
Hollywood has been the source of some of the biggest hits (The Lion King) and notorious flops (Carrie) in musical theater.
There are currently seven musicals on Broadway that were adapted from films – more than one-third of all the musicals currently on Broadway:
Ghost the Musical, adapted from the 1990 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.
The Lion King, based on the 1994 Disney animated film.
Mary Poppins, based on the 1964 Disney movie starring Julie Andrews.
Newsies, based on the 1990 Disney movie starring Christian Bale.
Once, based on the 2006 independent Irish film.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert, based on the 1994 Australian film
Sister Act, based on the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg.
Leap of Faith, based on the 1992 film starring Steve Martin, closed on Sunday, little more than two weeks after it opened. Other recent Broadway musicals based on movies included: Catch Me If You Can, Elf, Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown. There was even a play based on a movie, “Brief Encounter.” Before that, there was “9 to 5” and “Shrek” and “Ragtime”….
Two more recently announced: “Bring It On The Musical”, based on the 2000 teen comedy starring Kirsten Dunst about a cheerleading competition, is set to play at the St. James from July 12 to October 7 of this year. “Ever After,” a musical based on the 1998 Drew Barrymore film inspired by the fairy tale Cinderella , is aiming for the 2013-2014 season, directed by Kathleen Marshall.
While Broadway and Hollywood have had an extensive and complex relationship from the beginning of the movie industry, the adaptations from one medium to the other were for the first few decades largely in one direction, from stage to screen.
There are some examples of the reverse starting more than half a century ago.
The earliest so far unearthed (by classic movie buff and Twitter pal Bobby Rivers) is the 1942 film My Sister Eileen with Rosalind Russell, which became the 1953 Broadway musical ‘Wonderful Town”…with Rosalind Russell
The Apartment (1960) became Promises, Promises (1968, recently revived.)
All About Eve (1950) became Applause (1970)
42nd Street (1933) became the 1980 musical of the same name.
Woman of the Year (1942) became the 1981 musical of the same name.
But it is arguably only in the past 20 years, and especially in the past decade, that the dominant direction has been from Hollywood to Broadway.
What is next? What movie should be made into a Broadway musical? Which should never be made into one?
That was the question asked of those entering a contest for a pair of tickets to Ghost, a contest that ended May 14, 2012. Here are some of the answers:
What would make a great musical?
A League of Their Own
“It would be a high energy, funny and heartfelt good time, just like the movie.” (Taryn Crow)
“I know we have Damn Yankees but this could showcase some fierce ladies and the 40s had such bangin’ costumes” (Alana Rader)
Across the Universe
I’ve seen it 100 times (Mary Ann O’Rourke)
(Rosaria Panzeca )
“Lighthearted whimsy, beautiful love story, and tons of Parisian atmosphere. I can hear the accordion now.” (Geoffrey Greene)
“The better one…the original with Dudley Moore…was hilarious. Maybe get Liza in for a short run. (TaraLynn Yanagisawa)
Bride and Prejudice
It has amazing songs and great costumes (Christine DeLuca)
The Brother from Another Planet
‘But only if John Sayles stayed involved” (Lynda Crawford)
This ballet film already has fierce dancing and was even directed by a theater director – Nicholas Hytner – and has Broadway performers like Donna Murphy and Priscila Lopez in it! It would be like ‘A Chorus Line’ for a new generation! The film is already a cult hit, a la ‘Newsies’ (Sarah Packard)
There would be spectacular dancing, drama, romance, energy, and appealing characters. (Daphne Basset)
Especially a big interpretive dance number for Silent Bob.(Robb Johnston)
“So many great characters, plot twists, special “murder” FX, dark comedy, and the possibility of multiple endings or “choose your own adventure”-type audience participation. Has anyone done this yet?” (Sierra Rein)
“Funny, classic, satisfying love story.” (Ashley Fedor)
(Lauren Conlon) (Dawn Vanburen-Fanning)
Do The Right Thing
should be made into a musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Great dialog – just needs music/choreography! (Annabelle Malibago Kline)
Earth Girls Are Easy
“The special effects could outdo the movie! Julie Brown could be in it an write some additional killer songs! Costumes would be colorful and fun!” (Hollis Stern)
“The tone and characters are just dying to be musicalized. Plus the movie is SO clever and intelligent and the musical could easily reflect that.” (Philip Iannitti)
I think it could be a really great rock musical with a young, energetic cast. (Jessica Liebling)
“Already has great music and I’m sure Disney can create a magical way to switch from cartoon world to the real world” (Allie Cornblath)
Field of Dreams
“would make a beautiful heartwarming musical. It has comedy, drama, heartbreak, and is a tearjerker. It also would be amazing to see how they would do the baseball scenes on stage.” (Dan Guitelman)
“…would translate well onstage. I would love some William Finn music to supplement the story. Let’s get Jennifer Hudson on Broadway. And maybe Fantasia, Capathia Jenkins, Audra McDonald, Da’vine Joy Randolph, LaChanze, Patina Miller… Perhaps Laura Osnes as Skeeter? Are any investors reading this? Call me. “(Derek Hersey)
Julie & Julia
Can you imagine Julia Child singing? Haha. (Nina Monshine)
“the best tragedy/comedy/musical/extravaganza ever! Sparkling Diamons, Le Tango de Roxanne, Come What My, Your Song demand to be sun on a venue in NYC” (Mauricio Herrerabarria)
Lots of laughs and great characters (Melissa Battye)
Great love story with many emotions that could be turned into great songs. (Sarah Moran)
Great music, lots of action and I think it’s different enough from West Side Story to be a hit (Lisa Vigna)
Pretty in Pink
Classic rich boy falls for poor girl (and vice versa) and overcoming society’s opinion of it all. Love all John Hughes films (Cindy Vega)
Pretty Woman (Jamie Huggins)
The Princess Bride (Marta Myers Gillilan)
Purple Rose of Cairo.
” It’s got such a fabulous story, and visually it would be fantastic. There’s lots of longing, conflict, and self-discovery, and it would be interesting to see how the “movie” scenes are staged. I can imagine a big cast with lots of great group musical numbers and intimate scenes between the two main protagonists.” (Wendell Entin)
“Can you even imagine all the spectacular sets and costumes with the bollywood numbers that could be included? (Bill Blatchley)
The Social Network
“A great story that allows actors to develop characters further than other shows” (Robert Koehler)
The dance numbers would look great on Broadway (Lori Liebowitz)
That Thing You Do
“The nostalgic feel of the film can be easily translated to the stage” (Tara Wroblewski)
What would make a terrible musical
Aliens (Ryan Brinson)
Before Sunrise (Ran Xia)
“Could you imagine the musical numbers: The eerily, special effect laden “Mother; Make It Stop!” The haunting ballad: “You’re Going To Die Up There”… (Kevin LeCaon)
The Hunger Games
“Amazing movie and book but I don’t think there would be too many good songs about killing people from other districts.” (Jackie Cookfair)
Schindler’s List (Brian Stoll)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Jay Hawk)
What would make a terrific musical, or a terrible musical?
It would be an amazing Broadway musical, because of the fun, edgy themes, and they fight shirtless so hot guys! (Jeff Walsh)
It should never be made into a musical. I could picture it now…chorus boys dreaming of being in the ensemble just to wrestle with each other. It is a man’s man show with grit and anger and craziness…no music necessary. (Brad Buchholtz)
Its moving plot and passionate characters are what great musicals are made of. I can’t even imagine all the possibilities for using the SONG for advancing the plot (which is what musicals are intended to do). A feel-good ending would leave people singing out the door, and the possibilities for big ensemble numbers could be limitless (Jordan Campbell)
Who wouldn’t want to hear a song about life being like a box of chocolates and “Run Forrest Run”? (Catherine Tui)
The underlying love story in Forrest Gump would be great but with all the different story lines and scenes and the length of the movie, I would be nervous it would get ruined with flashy musical numbers. (Anna Kivela)
I’d be very interested in seeing am usical version…it was one of my favorite movies as a kid (Nicole M. Wright)
Please no Hocus Pocus musical. That movie is a lassic and I feel like a show wouldn’t live up to its awesomeness. Who could you possible cast in Bette’s role? No one…not even her, because of her age now. (Alesandra Klug)
It could easily become the next big campy hit that Broadway needs. (Rob Lawlor)
It’s kind of over the top but has a good message — if you watch the movie, it is pretty episodic and I think would lend itself well to using music to cover large swaths of time and emotion. (Liz Sager)
The songs practically write themselves, and it would be a huge hit. Everyone quotes the movie on a daily basis (Ashley Catherine Feinstein)
It should never be a musical. Why tamper with perfection? Also, Tina Fey’s humor is too quick and subtle to translate into a brassy musical. (Matt Kennedy)
For up-to-the-minute New York theater news, views and reviews, follow Jonathan Mandell on his Twitter feed at @NewYorkTheater
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