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Musing #34: Yo, Broadway! Stop with the Hollywood. (Part I of II)

It’s my column, and I’ll bitch if I want to.

Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd

My parents, singing a SWEENEY TODD parody about my birth:
“The Gerber Baby of State Street”

This one is really going to piss off some of you.

FUN! :)

I have myriad emphatic opinions about the symbiotic/parasitic relationship between Broadway (meaning theater) and Hollywood (meaning film).

What follows is the first half of my tirade on the aspect of that relationship that makes my blood boil hottest: the adaptation of cinematic works into stage musicals.

(Shudder, shudder, cringe, grimace.)

The_Grimace_Ain__t_No_Punk_by_Figura

In the interest of mixing things up, this month’s half of the tirade shall be presented to you in chart form. Why a chart? Well…uh…because it was fun to make!

The chart is self-explanatory, and I will not elucidate anything beyond what you see below until next month. Part II will detail all my thoughts in prose form, referencing and expounding upon points made in the chart.

NOTE: I do not comment on the quality (or lack thereof) of the actual musical; only on the justification (or lack thereof) for staging it to music at all. None of this has to do with box office. It’s about art.

So, without further ado…below is an alphabetical smattering of Broadway musicals that were first Hollywood films, including whether I approve of the stage adaptation and why:

 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

WORK OF ART YEAR OF FILM/SHOW APPROVAL? WHY OR WHY NOT
42nd Street 1933 1980 YES A great film about putting on a Broadway musical. Fine.                                                                              
Aladdin 1992 2014 NO BELONGS ON ICE, NOT ON STAGE! And there is only one Genie.                                                                       
All About Eve/
Applause
1950 1970 YES Acceptable because the source material for both is a short story (different title).                                                                   
Beauty and the Beast 1991 1994 NO BELONGS ON ICE, NOT ON STAGE! And the film is boring. You know it! 
Big Fish 2003 2013 I SPIT ON THIS Only novel and film can capture this story properly. For shame!!!                                                                  
Billy Elliot 2000 2008 YES A great film about a boy who just wants to dance. Fine.                                                                              
Bring It On 2000 2012 YES Has all the camp and choreography requisite for a musical. Fine.                                                                
Bullets Over Broadway 1994 2014 YES A great film about putting on a Broadway play. But, OK, fine.                                                                         
Carrie 1976 1988 STOP ENOUGH already, people, despite the legit source material!                                                                        
Catch Me If You Can 2002 2011 WTF No reason at all for this ever to have happened, memoir source or otherwise.                                        
Dirty Dancing 1987 2004 YES A great film about a boy and girl who just want to dance. Fine.                                                                   
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 1988 2005 NO Here again, no reason for this ever to have happened.                                                                      
Flashdance 1983 2008 YES A terrible film about a girl who just wants to dance. Fine.                                                                               
Footloose 1984 1998 YES A terrible film about a boy who just wants to dance. Fine.                                                                              
Ghost 1990 2012 HELL-to-the-NO Or, rather, HEAVEN-to-the-NO!!!                                                                                                                         
Hairspray 1988 2002 PET PEEVE Yes, it works. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t disgust me. I’m a purist!                                                           
High Fidelity 2000 2006 NO As a musical, this became a ghastly affront to the novel/film’s characters.                                                          
Kinky Boots 2005 2013 YES Drag queens are fine for Broadway musicals. Still hate Hairspray!                                                             
Legally Blonde 2001 2007 NO Reese Witherspoon herself stormed out of the opening. Need I go on?                                                 
Mary Poppins 1964 2006 YES Acceptable as both a great Hollywood musical and as literature.                                                                 
Matilda 1996 2013 YES Acceptable because the source material for both is a kick-ass, whimsical novel.                                                             
Newsies 1992 2012 YES WHY WASN’T THIS A STAGE SHOW FIRST?! Mind-boggling.                                                                            
Once 2006 2012 YES This is but a grudging “YES,” because that “Best Song” was awful.                                                           
Rocky 1976 2014 GOOD LORD No, no, no, no, no and no.                                                                                                                                   
Saturday Night Fever 1977 1999 YES A terrible film about a boy who just wants to dance. Fine.                                                                              
Singin’ in the Rain 1952 1985 OFFENSIVE No Gene Kelly + No Donald O’Connor = No Excuse                                                                                             
Sister Act 1992 2011 YES A cute film about a “nun” who just wants to sing. Fine.                                                                              
Sunset Boulevard 1950 1994 OFFENSIVE BEST FILM EVER MADE ABOUT FILM! So wrong, on every level.                                                                   
[The Adventures of] Priscilla, Queen of the Desert 1994 2011 YES Drag queens are fine for Broadway musicals. Still hate Hairspray!                                                             
The Bridges of Madison County 1995 2014 TERRIBLE Source material, shmource material. All iterations are dreck!                                                                      
The Color Purple 1985 2005 YES It’s a novel. Fine. Source material legit, à la Les Miz.                                                                                       
The Full Monty 1997 2000 YES A cute film about dudes who have to dance. Fine.                                                                                           
The Lion King 1994 1997 YES THE LONE DISNEY CARTOON THAT BELONGS ON STAGE! #Hamlet                                                            
The Little Mermaid 1989 2008 KILL ME NOW NEITHER THE FILM NOR THE STAGE SHOW SHOULD EXIST!!!                                                                            
The Phantom of the Opera 1925 1988 YES A great novel/(silent!) film about a girl who just wants to sing. Fine.                                                                              
The Producers 1967 2001 YES A great film about putting on a Broadway musical. Fine.                                                                                    
The Wedding Singer 1998 2006 YES Has all the camp and singing requisite for a musical. Fine. 
Thoroughly Modern Millie 1967 2002 YES Created specifically to be a “jukebox” piece of sorts. So, fine.                                                                
Twentieth Century/
On the Twentieth Century
1934 1978 YES It’s hilariously screwball and calls mainly for a unit set. Perfect!                                                                   
White Christmas 1954 2008 YES Created specifically to be a “jukebox” piece of sorts. So, fine.                                                               

 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

What can I say? I’m a very passionate person, for better or worse. Haha!!

Tune in next month for Musing #35: Yo, Broadway! Stop with the Hollywood. (Part II of II).

Until then, “Damn Hairspray, full speed ahead!”

The Ghost of Norma Desmond
@IvyLawEditor

One comment

  1. Ellie LeVine /

    This is a very interesting synopsis. I happen to agree with you on most of your choices. Will talk to you about it when we speak next time.

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