Top 8 TV shows that should light up the Broadway stage

Broadway has a habit of borrowing plot ideas from already existing forms of entertainment, often to great results. Shows like Big Fish, Flashdance the Musical, Kinky Boots, Matilda and Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark all got their start off the stage as books, comics or movies. It’s hard not to wonder what would happen if Broadway producers started turning to popular television series to create musicals. However ridiculous the following may seem, I can’t help but imagine certain TV shows in musical form. See if you can picture an alternate universe in which these beloved series take shape as musicals (hey Broadway movers and shakers, I’m talking to you. Put these shows onstage, I dare you).


Mad Men

Mad Men, with its cast of swanky 1960s ad agency executives, has all the makings of a successful Broadway musical. Well, sort of, if one chooses to overlook the generally brooding tone and slow-moving plot. But hey, musicals don’t have to be happy-go-lucky all the time, especially when all the other attributes of Mad Men are so glaringly reminiscent of musical theatre’s Golden Age. Think of it as Promises, Promises but with a sad ending and way more passive-aggression. The series features outrageous and colorful characters sporting the most stylish of 1960s office attire, so what could go wrong? I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love to see an onstage incarnation of Joan Holloway clicking her heels across the set or a wise-cracking theatrical Roger Sterling who could launch into witty musical numbers lamenting wealth-induced existential crises. Don Draper could sing a few pensive ballads, Peggy Olson could channel Millie Dillmount but with significantly less optimism and they could all smoke and drink more than is politically correct for the modern theatre.


Grey’s Anatomy

You know what the entertainment world hasn’t seen enough of? Plotlines featuring shiny, beautiful young people balancing their love lives with their high-pressure careers. Enter Grey’s Anatomy: The Rock Musical. Remember the hospital dream scene in American Idiot? Grey’s Anatomy onstage would look a lot like that but with brighter colors and perkier music. The doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital (now Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital for you die-hard Grey’s fans) could perform musical numbers in the middle of performing surgery in which they whip off their surgical masks with dramatic flair. Meredith Grey’s “I Want” song at the top of the show can be a driving uptempo piece about beating out her peers to get to get to partake in the most difficult surgery of the day and finally getting her parents’ approval. Meredith and Cristina Yang can have a sleepover scene and sing a song reminiscent of Grease’s “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” in which they make fun of the other doctors at the hospital who aren’t as “dark and twisty” as they are. A stunning leading man with flowing wavy hair can play Dr. McDreamy and stop the girls in their tracks.


Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl may have just ended, but this CW series’ success is so far-reaching that a spin-off in Mexico, Gossip Girl Acapulco, is currently in production. If the series can rake in dedicated teenage viewers in two different languages, then it is obviously ready to take Broadway by storm, right? This musical would look like some kind of cross between Legally Blonde: The Musical and Heathers. New York City is obsessed with itself and Broadway is obsessed with New York City. Nothing would sell tickets faster than yet another musical full of New Yorkers talking about what its like to live in New York – even if it takes the shape of a live-action teen drama. There would be lots of pretty cosmopolitans passed around onstage and the aesthetics of the vintage-inspired high-society party scenes would be reminiscent of Lippa’s Wild Party, minus all those dark and soul-searching undertones. Unlike The Wild Party, no introspection or self-awareness is necessary on the Upper East Side. Only scandal and Louboutin-inspired character shoes.


General Hospital

General Hospital celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and what better way to celebrate than by bringing a soap opera to Broadway, right? Luke Spencer and Laura Webber’s wedding could be recreated every night onstage, and the score could take a cue from the oh-so-dramatic music that already enhances every tearful scene on the series. Between stage interpretations of the natural disasters, comas, hostage crises and affairs that make soap operas so utterly charming, daytime goddess Susan Lucci of All My Children could make a guest appearance with a dramatic eleven o’clock number about the betrayals of husbands past.


Law and Order

If Mad Men isn’t brooding enough, we may as well take the negative undertones to a whole new level with Law and Order: The Musical. People seem to love a good murder mystery, so why not stage one that features a whole host of quirky suspects and decades worth of episodes and spin-offs for source material? Broadway actors guest star on Law and Order all the time, and theatre darling Jesse L. Martin of Rent and The Merchant of Venice starred on the series for almost a decade. He could reprise his television role on Broadway and Ice-T could bring his character to the stage as well, complete with a comedic musical number chock-full of the bad puns his character seems to love so much. We’d also fully expect multiple scenes and songs that acknowledge the awkward sexual tension between Detective Benson and Detective Stabler.


The Newsroom

The Newsroom already employs two major stars of the stage – John Gallagher Jr. and the legendary Jeff Daniels. The nerdy and brilliant cast of characters, complete with their quippy one-liners, could be brought to life by this generation’s set of fresh, yet-to-be-jaded new Broadway talent from the likes of Spring Awakening and American Idiot. The frantic pace of the cast as they try to keep up with unfolding world events can make for countless witty and intricately choreographed songs that depicts them running around the newsroom practically in circles – a touching metaphor for the fact that their whole lives are moving in a giant, sarcastic, quip-filled circle. Bonus tracks on the cast album (and hopefully actual last-minute scenes added to the show) could include a hilarious song in which Will McAvoy reads his live broadcast off a teleprompter controlled by an intern that keeps feeding him bad jokes, along with a high-stakes dance-off meant to represent Jim Harper and Maggie Jordan’s constant need to top each other with one-liners and pretend they’re not in love.


Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad in musical form could be a much more stressful and more morbid version of Spider-Man. After all, Walter White is the ultimate antihero who fills his days with action-packed adventures, isn’t he? The show could push the limits of the amount of gore previously seen onstage and find a way to work in chemistry lessons because horrifically scarring violence shouldn’t be a reason to exclude children from the audience, obviously. The songs could alternate between dark, brooding pieces in which the characters face naval-gazing struggles with their inner selves and tense high-speed chases through the desert. Bonus points if the producers use pyrotechnics to include some meth lab explosions onstage.


Arrested Development

Broadway is still missing one last show from its repertoire, one that would be so mind-blowing that I can’t even bring myself to speculate what it might look like besides hoping that the most embellished set piece is a fully-working onstage stair car. If I had thirty seconds with a wish-granting Broadway genie, I would request one thing and one thing only: Arrested Development the Musical. Need I say more?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

About Claire H.

Writer, performer, picture-taker, New Yorker. Find me on Twitter at @Claire_Hannum.
Subscribe to Comments RSS Feed in this post

2 Responses

  1. Great article, but General Hospital has been on for 50 years, not 15 :)

    • Ahh I am so glad you pointed that out Annabeth! Fixed it. One would think that having watched the show since childhood would’ve stopped me from typos like that one!