According to an article I recently read at BBC News, 20th Century Fox is planning to turn one or more of its films into musicals. This made me ask myself a few questions.
To answer these questions I had to do a little research. I first researched the former question, "Why choose musicals". It could be that musicals make more money or have a wider appeal, but I know many people who would prefer a good old straight play to all the singing and bounding about the stage. Then I found an interesting article by Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal entitled Why Straight Plays Can't Make it on Broadway. The article related facts and figures making new plays pricey to produce on Broadway. It would be a good business move (if you are after profits) to go with a musical. Musicals, despite their high cost seem to bring in more people than an equally expensive straight play. I understand the choice, but some movies just aren't meant to be transposed in song (another opinion for another post). I gathered that movie studios want to make musicals out of their films because they want to open on Broadway with profits. They don't want to open at some regional theatre and workshop around the States or in the UK; the studios want a big grand Broadway debut with singing and dancing. Who would blame them. Broadway is glamorous and idealized just like Hollywood. They want what they know.
I dare not stop there; Nancy Drew still had a question and the mystery was still afoot!
The latter questions about the trend of movies to musicals is a bit harder to sort through. It certainly has been done many times. Musicals such as this past year's Once come to mind along with Disney's the Lion King, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and, Legally Blonde: The Musical. Many people enjoyed these adaptations, but a blockbuster movie does not a broadway musical make. My opinion is also shared by film producer John Davis:
A big, popular movie doesn't always lend itself to a live experience.
I'm glad someone is thinking what I am thinking.
As I searched, another question popped into my head.
There are certain ways of telling a story that translate better on film and others equally as relevant that translate better on stage. It is very rarely that a movie does well as a musical and vise versa. I can think of a few, but most are Disney movies (Beauty and the Beast was once said to be born to be a Broadway musical) and the others are few and far between (Footloose and Hairspray are on the top of my list). I am still mixed about 20th Century Fox's plans to produce musical versions of its movies, but I will be anxious to see how they use the art of live theatre to retell their stories.
As I finish this article visions of "that spider musical" flash through my head. I do not wish that on these new musical adaptations, but I think it is a good parable to tell to ANY Broadway bound show.