B and I will be travelling to Long Island in July for a wedding, and we’re hoping to spend a day in Manhattan before heading home. It’s been suggested that we see a Broadway musical, so I began looking at a list of shows that will be running.
I was immediately struck by the number of shows that have been adapted from Hollywood movies. I know there’s been a fair amount of sharing between the two genres for decades, but the trend really seems to have exploded in the past few years. I guess with the incredible cost of mounting Broadway shows, producers are looking to minimize financial risk by avoiding artistic risks.
Some of the adaptations make perfect sense. I can see how movies like Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Billy Elliot, and Hairspray could make the transition from screen to stage pretty easily. However, some of the other shows strike me as pathetic cash grabs. Do we really need Legally Blonde: The Musical? Does Shrek The Musical really advance the art form?
I understand musical versions of The Wedding Singer and Weekend at Bernie’s are also under development. Seriously, Weekend at Bernie’s? I guess they couldn’t get the rights to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Notably absent from the list of movie adaptations is the greatest musical written in the past decade. Of course I’m referring to South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. No other work in recent memory can match its combination of crude humour, memorable songs, and political satire. I can’t believe it hasn’t hit Broadway yet – perhaps the Great White Way isn’t ready for a show highlighted by Saddam sleeping with Satan.
We actually went to see an honest-to-God original musical the other night. A touring production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee pulled into town, and staff were offered comps on account of its dismal sales. Although it lacks a signature song, it was a funny, fast-paced show that made for an enjoyable night out. Given the poor sales, however, one has to wonder how many more original musicals will be coming through in the future.