News / Arts & Entertainment

    Hollywood Films Re-imagined for Broadway

    Actors Margo Seibert and Andy Karl at the "Rocky" Broadway opening night on March 13, 2014, in New York City.
    Actors Margo Seibert and Andy Karl at the "Rocky" Broadway opening night on March 13, 2014, in New York City.
    For many years, the relationship between Broadway and Hollywood went one way: from stage to screen. 

    But in the past couple of decades, some of the biggest Broadway hits have been adapted from films - think Hairspray or Kinky Boots. Four of the big new musicals opening this spring are based on movies, including Rocky: The Musical.

    The show’s creators knew they faced challenges when adapting Sylvester Stallone’s Academy Award-winning boxing movie for the stage.

    "If you speak to all of the authors and all of the creative team, their instinctive reaction, when first hearing about Rocky becoming a musical, ranges from incredulity to plain crazy," said Bill Taylor.  

    Rocky presents a kind of double-edged sword; there’s a built-in audience that loves the film, but also has expectations. They'll hear Bill Conti’s iconic theme, but the rest of the score is by Tony Award winners Lynn Ahrens and Steven Flaherty.

    LISTEN: Hollywood Films Re-imagined for Broadway
    Hollywood Films Re-imagined for Broadwayi
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    "The Bill Conti music is so associated with Rocky that it seemed inappropriate not to have it in there," Taylor said.

    But Ahrens and Flaherty were able to flesh out the romance between Rocky, the boxer, and Adrian, the shy pet shop clerk who’s his girlfriend.

    Helpful branding

    Can Rocky: The Musical - which turns a New York theater into a boxing ring - win over the film’s fans?  Broadway’s a tough business where only one out of every four shows succeeds. It does help if producers can present a show that already has a brand attached, no matter how iconic.  

    Stacy Mindich says that’s one reason she decided to produce the musical version of The Bridges of Madison County.
    Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale in "The Bridges of Madison County" on Broadway. (Photo by Joan Marcus)Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale in "The Bridges of Madison County" on Broadway. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
    "I think when you are looking at a novel that sold 50 million copies worldwide and a film that grossed, you know, $180 million, which was quite a lot for 1995, I believe it was, that you can’t say no," Mindich said.  
     
    The Bridges of Madison County both adheres to and diverges from the book and movie, about a four-day love affair between an Italian-born housewife in Iowa and a National Geographic photographer. Mindich says Pulitzer Prize-winning author Martha Norman and Tony Award-winning songwriter Jason Robert Brown shifted the emphasis of the story.

    "Their original take on this is from the woman’s point-of-view, which is rather different from the experiences of reading the book or seeing the movie, because she created this story from Francesca Johnson’s point of view, not Robert Kincaid’s," Mindich said.

    From screen to stage

    If one company has experience in adapting films to the stage, it’s Disney. The Lion King was a huge success, but The Little Mermaid and Tarzan were flops. The Hollywood behemoth has now turned to its 1992 animated film Aladdin as the source of a new stage show.  

    Creating flying carpets isn't too difficult to do these days on Broadway, but making a blue genie who magically morphs into different shapes and sizes might prove a bit more difficult. On top of that, the character was voiced by Robin Williams.

    There were fewer than five songs in the film. The stage version has been fleshed out with songs the original writers, Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, wrote that did not make it into the final cut of the movie.

    Director Casey Nicholaw says Disney has been very supportive of these and other changes.

    "It’s their property, you know, so they’re protective of it, in a good way," Nicholaw said. "They’re completely encouraging about taking it and making it theatrical, as opposed to, 'You know what?  We just want to put the movie onstage, you know?'  They’re saying 'Let’s make it theater-worthy.'”  

    The challenge is a little tougher when the original creator does not want a typical Broadway musical, which was the case with Woody Allen and Bullets Over Broadway.

    "He didn’t want to do it himself, but he hates to turn it over to someone," said Letty Aronson, the producer of the upcoming Broadway version of Bullets Over Broadway and Allen's sister. Allen also wasn't enthusiastic about using music composed especially for the show.

    Aronson and co-producer Julian Schlossberg say Allen okayed the adaptation when they agreed to use period music from the 1920s for his farce about gangsters and theater types.

    The audience will decide whether Bullets Over Broadway - or any of these other new shows - is the one of four that succeeds.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    New in Music Alley

    Soul Lounge: Sweet Honey in the Rocki
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    February 10, 2016 1:48 PM
    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B. The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.

    For over 40 years Sweet Honey In The Rock has entertained audiences around the globe with their signature blend of Blues, African, Gospel and R&B.   The Grammy award winning group stopped by The Soul Lounge to perform and share their story as well as how they plan to keep African American musical traditions alive.