Theatre Talk Thursday: What would you make into a musical?

Broadway is chock-full of shows and musicals that draw some or all of their inspiration from another form like a novel, TV show or film. Hands on a Hardbody is based on a documentary, Matilda is based on the beloved children’s book, Kinky Boots was a movie and Les Miserables has been everything from a novel to a musical to a blockbuster movie. Given that everything comes from somewhere, we asked: What story would you like to see on Broadway?

Artwork from the original 'Star Wars' poster

Artwork from the original ‘Star Wars’ poster

Alan, managing editor

I have to call Star Wars. It is the greatest trilogy of all time (not to be confused with that other, newer Star Wars trilogy, ever) and the classic story arc would be a great backbone for a big Broadway musical. Apparently a musical project based on the movies already exists but there’s no reason that this couldn’t be reborn. Now that Disney owns the Star Wars universe we can probably expect to see Star Wars everything. Of course, deep down, what I really want to see is new musicals based on the author’s imagination. Short of that, Star Wars sounds awesome.

Grigori Rasputin

Grigori Rasputin

Monte, creative director

This may legitimately be the hardest question I’ve had to answer, because how do you choose just one thing?  I mean there are plenty of things that I can think of where I’ve stopped and said “Wait, why is this not a thing?” but actually choosing one is a challenge.  I think that most people who know me would expect a Sherlock Holmes musical, or perhaps suggest bringing another Isherwood adaptation to the stage.  However, even though if you offered me Hadley Fraser as Sherlock Holmes, I wouldn’t turn it down for a moment, I think what I would rather do is a musical based on the life of Rasputin – because there’s a little bit of everything there.  A little bit funny, a little bit tragic, a little bit wild, rollicking romp, entirely dark and gritty, and I, for one, am almost always in favor of a dark, gritty musical based on a dead (after several tries anyway) Russian and the possibility for grimly humorous musical numbers is basically endless.  The only backfire would be if fans of Anastasia accidentally wound up there and were less than amused to find themselves at a terribly irreverent historical musical (and there simply aren’t enough of those – let’s be honest).

Wendi, video blogger

I would absolutely love to see songs of the 90’s turned into a musical. This was sort of achieved through the new Spice Girls musical Viva Forever, (which I’m still dying to see) but my musical (yes, it’s mine) would include everything from Destiny’s Child to the Backstreet Boys to N*SYNC to Dave Matthews to Britney Spears. Who wouldn’t want to sit through a night of live theatre filled with this (well at least to my generation) classic music? It would be like Rock of Ages except infinitely better. Listen to the music; there is definitely a romantic comedy in there somewhere. I would cast Laura Osnes opposite Aaron Tveit in this catchy, adorable, fun, boy-meets-girl romantic comedy style Broadway musical and it would win tons of Tony Awards.

His Royal Majesty, King Henry VIII

His Royal Majesty, King Henry VIII

Amelia, writer

A story that I have been waiting and waiting and waiting to appear on Broadway is the story of Henry VIII and his six wives (but mostly Anne Boleyn).  I have been drawn to this sordid historical soap opera since middle school and with interest on the rise since The Other Boleyn Girl and The Tudors I am honestly shocked that a musical has yet to follow suit. It is a fascinating true story that society has already skewed into a intriguing drama full of sex, suspense, murder, incest, love, adultery and royalty.  If it were up to me it would be a gritty rock opera with a concert feel while still being grounded in period setting and costumes. Big dreams, I know, but just imagine Henry and Anne having a belt-tastic confrontation with a blaring electric guitar upon a majestic throne as they visually and verbally struggle for power. Each wife could have a whole genre/style of music to accompany them. Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell and the rest of Henry’s entourage would be raging rock lords and lots of leather doublets would be involved. (I really haven’t thought about this at all…)

'James and the Giant Peach'

‘James and the Giant Peach’

Josh, columnist

I have actually thought about this quite a bit and have several films I think would make amazing Broadway musicals. The first is James and the Giant Peach. If Matilda can be brought to life, then think of what could be done with life-size bugs and a colossal piece of fruit! The possibilities are endless! And what better place to feature the musical than the very place where the story ends up—NYC! I truly think that with a few new musical numbers, a solid book, and a spectacular concept to drive the show, this could really take off and be something special for both children and adults alike. By the same token, I think Pete’s Dragon would be equally stunning. I have always been in love with the film’s soundtrack and often wish I had a copy (even though it’s harder to find than the Lost Ark). I have yet to decide what would be more effective: a giant dragon operated by puppet masters a la The Lion King or a different effect that lets the audience imagine what Elliott the dragon looks like. Perhaps a mixture would suffice (which would in effect stay true to the film). In any case, the cast of characters is stellar and would feature many different kinds of talent, from the comedic Gogan family to Nora, the woman who takes Pete in and gives him a real home. This show would light up Broadway in a way that no other show currently running would. If I ever heard “It’s a Brazzle Dazzle Day” in a Broadway theater, I know I’d be unable to contain my excitement. If Disney ever doubts what project to take on next, here are two viable options!

Claire, writer

I have a whole host of TV shows I’d like to see made into musicals, which I just may have to write a whole article about at some point, but there is one movie I spent my entire childhood longing to see on Broadway – Anastasia. Last summer there was a reading of Anastasia in New York, and Bernadette Peters and Angela Lansbury took part. I was so excited to hear about it. Maybe it’s finally happening and we’ll actually see Anastasia on Broadway in the near future! When I was little my best friend and I used to talk all the time about our plans to stage it in NYC. (I guess we were planning to produce it, direct it and star in it all at once? While we were still children? We were nothing if not imaginative. Hey, it was the Midwest.) There was no doubt in our minds that we were going to be the ones to make it happen and we thought it was a completely doable goal. After all, obviously nobody else had thought of it besides the two of us ten-year-olds, right? We spent our days debating who would actually get to play Anastasia herself, and it was decided that one of us would play Young Anastasia and one of us would play the older Anastasia that’s in the majority of the movie – but we still never arrived at who would be who! Either way, I really hope Anastasia shows itself onstage one of these days so we can reminisce about it, cause I still have not gotten those songs out of my head.

Moses and Rameses race their chariots

Moses and Rameses race their chariots

 Renee, assistant
I would love to see a musical made out of the Dreamworks animated film The Prince of Egypt. The story centers around Rameses and Moses and their struggle to do what they believe is right for their people. I enjoyed the movie so much as a child and I would love to see it brought to life on stage. I think the story is timeless and the music can be appreciated by a diverse audience. I have been considering the idea of a stage version of this movie because I feel that there are so many talented actors in the business right now that could fill the roles in this show. In particular, I find that the roles of Rameses and Moses would be perfect for Hadley Fraser and Ramin Karimloo respectively. They have a strong dynamic when they are on stage together, and I feel as though they would have great sincerity when portraying the brotherly relationship that the characters share. I always enjoy shows that appeal to families and this show would be a great one to take children of all ages to see. It was a favorite of mine, and I feel it would make a wonderful Broadway musical.
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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald
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3 Responses

  1. I still don’t have an answer to this because all I can think of is a Rolling Stones musical or a Rod Stewart musical (which has been done) but I really just want to get on my soapbox and talk about the need for NEW shows so I’m going to sit this one out, haha.

  2. I would love to see Wendi’s 90’s boy-meets-girl romantic comedy idea come to life. I feel like that would be a lot of fun and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love the 90’s?! Not to mention I would go for the cast of Laura Osnes opposite Aaron Tveit. Can someone please make this happen?!

  3. I’d love to see the movie Dead Poets Society turned into a musical. The story focuses on a group of boys at a private school who are inspired to change their lives by their English teacher. The show would just break everyone’s hearts. It could be like a newer, less-edgier Spring Awakening. If the musical ever happens, I want Christian Borle as Mr. Keating. Also, I want Ryan Steele, Taylor Trensch, and Andy Richardson as some of the students.

    And Josh, once upon a time there was a James and the Giant Peach musical in the works. The music/lyrics were written by Pasek and Paul, and they had a reading for it in 2010. I’m not sure what’s become of it since then. Maybe they’ll try to bring it back after all of Matilda’s success!