In a 2004 musical about the creation of an original musical, cheekily entitled [ title show], one writer asked, “So movies are good for musicals?” To which his writing partner replied, “Well, they’re musicals.”
The Australian audience has seen the stage versions of School of Rock and Billy Elliot as well as Saturday Night Fever, Muriel’s wedding, and Saturday Night Fever. Tom Kitt’s and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s adaptation of Bring It On, based on the cheerleading movie, has already been shown in Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.
Frozen, Waitress, Moulin Rouge, and Shrek are all scheduled to be performed in Australia by 2020.
Bring it on brings cheer to the theater and a happy audience.
Hamilton, a movie adaptation of the Australian original, will be opening here next year. However, some original Australian imports, such as Come From Away or The Book of Mormon, can already be seen on Australian stages.
The Queensland Theatre Company Melbourne Theatre Company Belvoir St Theatre have not announced plans to premiere a new Australian musical in 2020.
From novel to screen, to stage
Musical theatre is a genre which has always encouraged adaptation. Show Boat, a 1927 adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel, was a musical. Oklahoma was based on the play Green Grow The Lilacs written by Lynn Riggs. Musicals have been adapted from books, plays, comics, short stories, and even the Bible.
Oscar Hammerstein II, who mentored Stephen Sondheim in his role as composer and lyricist, gave him the task of writing four musicals, including three adaptations.
Musicals became more popular as cinema grew in popularity. They ranged from arthouse movies such as Fellini’s 8 1/2, (adapted into Maury Yeston’s Nine), and Ingmarbergman’s Smiles of A Summer Night, (Stephen Sondheim’s inspiration for A Little Night Music), to blockbusters like Sister Act.
This process can be reversed, with upcoming movie musicals such as Cats beginning their lives onstage. Hairspray, for example, can be a stage production that is then turned into a movie musical.
In the 21st Century, producers began adapting popular movies for the stage in order to attract new audiences to theatres. They wanted to bring familiar titles to the attention of a wider audience. Pretty Woman, Tootsie, and Beetlejuice were among the adaptations that dominated the most recent Broadway season.
There are many ways to stage
Use songs from an original film’s soundtrack to create a jukebox experience. This style of adaptation is best exemplified by Moulin Rouge, as well as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The songs are spectacular, even though the music is rarely the driving force behind the plot.
Some adaptations, such as School of Rock and Kinky Boots, insert songs that are usually composed by a single composer. (Andrew Lloyd Webber in School of Rock; Cyndi Laper in Kinky Boots; and Bryan Adams in Pretty Woman) Songs can be used to create memorable numbers, but they can also replace dialogue or serve as a reflective solo.
The audience is not used to the new songs, and they expect the music from the movie. This is why the Roy Orbison song Ah Pretty Woman, which was originally not included in the Broadway version of Pretty Woman, was added at the end.