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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Pianist Myra Melford’s new CD “Life Carries Me This Way” features solo piano interpretations of drawings by modern artist Don Reich. She performs songs from the album, talks about turning art into music, and joins host Eric Felten in some Chicago boogie-woogie on "Beyond Category."