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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

At Washington’s Blues Alley jazz singer Jane Monheit and her quartet perform songs made famous by Judy Garland. Monheit sits down with "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten to talk about her music, the singers who influence her, and her life traveling with family on tour.