By Samantha Dupler
While it’s certainly not a new phenomenon, there is a trend in recent years on Broadway of movies becoming musicals. Some, like Disney’s The Little Mermaid, had music to begin with, while others, such as the West End’s Ghost The Musical or the upcoming Big Fish, required an entirely new score. That being said, TheaterAdvisor thought about the five movies we would most like to see turned into stage musicals, whether serious, comical, family-friendly or flashy.
5. Being There
The 1979 movie starring the late Peter Sellers, based on the novella by Polish author Jerzy Kosiński, told the story of a simple gardener known solely as Chance, who finds himself thrown into the world of the elite and political after getting struck by the car of a wealthy businessman. The man, Ben Rand, and his wife Eve take Chance the Gardener in, mishearing his name as “Chauncey Gardiner” and misinterpreting his honest gardening advice for political allegories and wisdom. The satirical film gained rave reviews from audiences and critics alike, snagging four stars out of four from famed critic Roger Ebert, and has gained a 95% approval rating on rottentomatoes.com’s “tomatometer”. Something about the fairytale-like atmosphere of Being There, including the mystifying final scene, just lends itself to becoming a play with nuancing music, a show that would rely more on haunting melodies and sharp wit as opposed to spectacle-style singing and dancing. With its perfect blend of snappy satire and true emotion, Being There seems to be exactly what today’s Broadway audience desires most.
4. The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is one of those rare films that appeals to children, adults and critics alike, and if it ever were to be brought to the Broadway stage, it would probably incite that same love all over again, akin to a production like The Lion King. The movie, based on the novel by William Goldman, would be a creative director’s dream come true when tasked with the challenge of representing the “real world” and the “storybook world” on stage. (We know that an attempt was made by William Goldman and Adam Guettal, but unfortunately due to internal conflicts, the project never materialized. We hope that someday they can put aside their differences and set the story onstage!) The Princess Bride is a classic true love romance story, with plenty of sword fights and adventure to keep kids satisfied, and a healthy dose of cheeky self-awareness for the amusement of adults everywhere. Not to mention, wouldn’t Shuler Hensley be perfect as Fezzik, the role played by Andre the Giant in the 1987 film?
3. The Great Gatsby
Considering that this American classic has been around since the 1920s, it’s actually pretty surprising that a musical adaptation has never graced a Broadway stage. The sprawling lawns and lavish mansions that the 1974 film offer could translate perfectly to stage with the right director and high enough budget, and the wistful romantic tension between Gatsby and Daisy just begs to be captured in song. Although musical versions of classic novels in the past, such as Gone With the Wind, have been flops, The Great Gatsby would seem to fit easily in a two-act structure. Gatsby also has a plot that relies mostly on character development, as opposed to details and events, to keep audience’s attention focused and unwavering. And with the Baz Luhrmann adaptation of the Fitzgerald novel coming to theaters next year, now seems like the perfect time to get the ball rolling on a musical version.
2. Moulin Rouge!
This fast-paced and glamorized account of 1899 Bohemian culture in Montmartre snagged the first Oscar nomination for Best Picture by a musical film for the first time in 22 years; something which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has seen the Baz Luhrmann masterpiece. With its archetypical characters propagating messages of true love conquering evil and lavish sets and costumes, Moulin Rouge! seems to have all the makings of a timeless musical classic that could be enjoyed and understood by people from all generations and places. The purposefully anachronistic film score is comprised, save for the one original ballad “Come What May”, of popular songs from the mid-to-late 20th century. If the show were to ever be brought to Broadway, an original score could be written for the stage, which still salvages the modern feel of the music.
1. That Thing You Do!
The story of The Wonders, a “one-hit wonder” band from Eerie, Pennsylvania in the 1960s struggling to deal with their quick rise to fame and eventually break-up was a hit with critics when it opened in ’96, scoring a 94% “fresh” rating on rottentomatoes.com from Top Critics. Musicals such as Dreamgirls and Jersey Boys, both shows about musical groups, have proven to be wildly popular with audiences, so why should That Thing You Do! prove to be much different? The nostalgic feel of the film is charming and shouldn’t be too hard to replicate on stage with the use of era-appropriate costumes and props. The story truly offers something for everyone, from the conflict of the band breaking up from within, to the romance blooming between the drummer of The Wonders and the girlfriend of the lead singer. That Thing You Do! seems like the ultimate choice for a musical from a movie.
What movies do you want to see made into musicals?