Now Presenting…

Ken AshfordPopular CultureLeave a Comment

What do movies "Big", "Singing In The Rain", and "Carrie" have in common?

Need a hint?

Add to that list: "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels", "Hairspray", "The Producers", and "The Lion King".

Footloose1 Yup.  They are all movies that have become Broadway musicals.  The stage versions of "Big", "Singing In The Rain", and "Carrie" bombed.  But, quite obviously, others like "The Producers" didn’t.  (Neither is "Spamalot", the Broadway musical version of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail").

It’s not a trend that I hate.  Broadway shows are often adapted from other media (books, usually).  And movies, too — "Sweet Charity", few people know, was based on Federico Fellini’s "Nights of Cabiria."  Broadway even whores itself — many straight plays have found great success as reincarnated musicals.

But it does seem to be overdone lately.  The New York Times recently ran an article about this trend upsurge:

Broadway has been stealing ideas from Hollywood for as long as anyone can remember. But business changes on Broadway and in Hollywood, combined with an increasingly risk-averse theater industry, have pushed this longtime trend to a new level, as producers now try to turn dozens of films into musicals. From "Blade Runner" (itself based on a novel) to "Batman" (based on a comic book series), no movie seems too bizarre to adapt.

Aside from "Blade Runner" and "Batman", here are some other Broadway-musicals-based-on-movies which are in the works (or, are being seriously considered):

  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (now on Broadway)
  • The Wedding Singer (opening this season)
  • Tarzan (opening this season)
  • The Color Purple (opening this season)
  • Cry-Baby (opening this season)
  • Legally Blonde (2007 season, maybe)
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Shrek
  • Billy Elliot
  • Get Shorty
  • Weekend At Bernie’s
  • Network
  • Dr. Zhivago
  • Cat Ballou
  • Catch Me If You Can

Looking at some of these, I can understand why some people really really don’t like Broadway musicals.