Tag Archives: adaptation

From the Silver Screen to the Broadway Stage

5 May

‘Legally Blonde The Musical’. Picture courtesy of the Legally Blonde The Musical official website.

It seems a new fad is cropping up in the world of musical theatre – the adaptation of the popular movie to the stage.

Although not a new concept, the transformation of movies into stage musicals appears to be increasingly popular, with the majority of this year’s upcoming shows falling under this category.

Most notably, An Officer and a Gentleman, which premieres in Sydney in May, and Legally Blonde, which is coming in September.  Both of these musical versions have received much media attention and should prove popular amongst audiences, particularly those who are fans of the movies.

The question is, can movies such as these, without any original musical numbers, be easily adapted to the stage?  And if so, how successfully?

‘Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark’ Broadway Opening Night. Picture courtesy of Getty Images.

Apparently, they are quite successful, if sales to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark are anything to go by.  The Broadway musical is taking $US1.3 million each week at the box office, proving typical box-office flicks are just as popular on stage.

Matilda the Musical, adapted from the much-loved children’s movie, and Roald Dahl’s novel, won seven Olivier Awards in London recently.  The classic tale has had a number of rave reviews from its time on the West End, and is expected to open in Sydney within the next 18 months.

Red Dog the Musical and The First Wives Club – The Musical are currently in the process of adaptation by John Frost, the producer of An Officer and a Gentleman, Wicked and Annie.

It is interesting that this trend has come about considering up until the last decade, it was the reverse – musicals were transformed into films.  Some of the greatest musical films originated as stage musicals including The Sound of Music, Grease, Annie, Oliver!, Chicago, My Fair Lady, Annie Get Your Gun, just to name a few.  It is more conceivable that a popular musical could be written for the silver screen and adapted to suit the medium, especially as films have a lot more freedom visually, as opposed to the restrictions on-stage.  So, it is fair to say that in order to do the opposite and adapt film to the stage, the choice of film is critical.

As Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, Donald Margulies in the Sydney Morning Herald says, adaptation is becoming the way to move forward in the world of musical theatre.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with that but you do have to decide which films might be appropriate to musicalise and which ones are not,” Marguiles says.

‘Matilda The Musical’. Photo courtesy of the official website.

Over the next two years, we can expect to see a number of movies and TV shows make their way to the musical stage, including An Officer and a Gentleman, Legally Blonde, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Addams Family, Strictly Ballroom and the return of The Lion King, to Sydney.  In Melbourne, War Horse, King Kong the Musical and Ghost the Musical will hit the stage.  It is also rumoured that Shrek was set for Australia, but after closing early on Broadway, it depends on its success in London.

With so many new musicals being adapted, it is clear that musical theatre is certainly not dead and is in fact, as popular as ever.  With the adaptation of movies to musicals, it is highly possible that musical theatre will grow stronger than ever, by appealing to a new market of film lovers.

Hollywood Blockbuster Turned Into Broadway Musicals

Movie Musicals: From Stage to Screen

Head Over Heels

Sit! Speak! Sing! It’s Red Dog the Musical

Sydney to host world premiere of Strictly Ballroom musical

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em

In Full Voice

King Kong Musical to open in Melbourne before hitting New York

Dahl’s gold: Matilda the Musical dominates the Oliviers

Theatre Review: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on its way

War Horse has proved it’s a beast to be reckoned with

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