SCREEN TO STAGE
Turning Classic Films Into Blockbuster Broadway Musicals
Ever sat in your reclining movie theater seat, eating your favorite movie theater snack, sipping on your favorite movie theater soda, and thought “Man, this movie would make an awesome musical?” Well, the brilliant minds behind this season’s Broadway musicals are one step ahead of you. While not a new phenomenon by any means, this season is particularly chock full of big blockbuster musicals inspired by some classic films. But how do you capture everything from the big screen on a New York stage? This year’s batch believes you can find the answer to that question in one word: spectacle. From start to finish, these adaptations are out to prove that sometimes bigger is, in fact, better.
Leading the pack of movie-turned-Broadway blockbusters this season is Disney’s Aladdin. Closely following the score and story of the 1992 hit children’s classic, Aladdin is a massive spectacle with its big production numbers, flashy costumes, and impressive special effects (if you know how they make that magic carpet fly, please do let us know!). But don’t expect the show to be exactly as you remember it from twenty years ago. Aladdin’s pet monkey Apu is replaced by three new human best friends who sing and dance their way in and out of trouble. Jafar’s evil parrot sidekick Iago (memorably voiced in the film by Gilbert Gottfried) is now a hilarious human partner who is just as funny and just as devious. And the Genie (originally voiced in the movie by Robin Williams) has plenty of new tricks up his sleeve. Aladdin on Broadway is one part magic, one part classic Disney romance, one part hilarious musical comedy, and ten parts big Broadway spectacle!
And speaking of SPECTACLE, make sure not to miss the stage adaptation of the classic American boxing story Rocky. Based on the Sylvester Stallone film, this production is straight from Germany where it is already an international sensation. Following the story of a Philadelphia boxer’s rise to fame – including Rocky Balboa’s famous “ADRIAN!” – this musical truly is epic in nature. Without giving too much away, the second act, which features the famous boxing bout with Apollo Creed, is worth the ticket price alone. Sparing no expense, this new musical (with music by Stephen Flaherty, also known for Ragtime and Seussical) strikes an impressive balance between an intimate love story and larger-than-life theatrics.
And no Broadway season would be complete without a stage adaptation from the queen of larger-than-life theatrics herself, Susan Stroman. Best known for her direction of screen-to-stage adaptations of The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and last year’s Big Fish, Stroman is back again as director and choreographer of the musical version of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway. And this new musical is packed with spectacle. Stroman is best known for big sets, glitzy costumes, and impressive dance numbers. And she’s also known for attracting some big names in talent – Bullets Over Broadway stars television’s Zach Braff and Broadway superstar Marin Mazzie, with Woody Allen back to write the show’s book.
But if any of this season’s gems don’t strike your fancy, it’s also not too late to see some of last season’s hits that were inspired by former films. Tony Award winning Kinky Boots, featuring the music of Cyndi Lauper, and Matilda, based on the Roald Dahl novel and which also inspired a film version, are still going strong on the Great White Way. So if you are in the mood for some of your favorite film stories told in a fresh – and larger-than-life – way, check out some of these spectacular musical adaptations. And who knows? The next time you are sitting in a movie theater, you may just be watching the inspiration for a future blockbuster musical!