Do you remember the (sometimes) good old days when Hollywood turned Broadway musicals into motion pictures?
Yes, we still get that to some extent with Chicago, Phantom and others of their ilk. But, uh …
Well, but. It’s not the same, is it?
Definitely not the same is the trend to turn motion pictures into Broadway musicals. The Lion King is one example. Another’s Newsies. Even My Favorite Year got into the stagebound act (terribly, I might add).
What are we going to say about the cinema 20 years from now? “Hey, where were you when the film of the musical based on the movie The Producers came out?”
I know how I’d respond: “Me? I was watching the film of the opera based on the Beaumarchais play The Marriage of Figaro at the Met. After that, we ate at the restaurant spun off the novel based on the video game inspired by … ”
Blah, blah, blah.
There’s something truly uninspired about creating a play or musical based on a movie–especially if the original’s a good one. Film’s not like theater; it’s permanent, constant. Actors don’t flub lines one night and get them perfectly the next. You’ve got a completed work.
So if the source movie’s good–as is the case with My Favorite Year and The Producers–why bother translating it for the stage? Shouldn’t we consider ourselves lucky that we have a film we can always return to, laugh at, quote the lines from? And isn’t that one of the main reasons why we can watch great movies over and over again … because we know them like we know our significant others, our families, our friends?
Because they never change?
That’s why I’m not interested in seeing any more Broadway shows based on films. The theater begs for interpretation, transformation; movies don’t. I’ll watch the motion picture version of Sunset Boulevard, not the musical, thank you very much. Because the latter, like so many of its kind, just isn’t ready for its close-up.