Right now we've found ourselves in a period when Hollywood musicals have become cool again. Over the past year, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s two musicals Hamilton and In The Heights have notably been given the shot to move from the stage to screens, alongside other movie musicals like Cinderella and Everybody's Talking About Jamie, and there's more to come. With this weekend's Dear Evan Hansen, the show first hit the stage in 2015 and has already become a worldwide sensation and (now) a major motion picture. But what are some other shows that could easily become films?
For many, the love of musicals doesn't happen on Broadway, it starts with discovering cast recordings or through watching the movie musicals based on the most beloved shows. Movies like Dear Evan Hansen can provide more access to the shows people are raving about over in New York City on big screens and later, in the comfort of our own homes. Following Dear Evan Hansen's release, favorites like Wicked and Mean Girls: The Musical are set to get the movie treatment. There are so many more incredible modern musicals that have graced the stage of Broadway in the past decade that could make for some awesome movies too. Here are my top picks:
The Book of Mormon
Honestly, it's hard to believe this one isn’t a movie yet. The Book Of Mormon first came out in 2011 after the creators of South Park put together a satirical musical about two Latter-day Saints missionaries as they try to preach their faith to a remote Ugandan village.
The original cast included Josh Gad, Andrew Rannells and Brian Tyree Henry prior to their Hollywood fame. In the past decade, The Book of Mormon has become a modern classic on Broadway, perhaps making it the perfect time for a movie to breathe even more life into its legacy.
A musical rooted in Greek myth that’s not Hercules? Yeah, sign me up. Hadestown is a modern adaptation of these myths set to the sounds of New Orleans jazz and American folk music. The musical is about Orpheus and Eurydice along with the tale of King Hades and his wife Persephone that goes down to the depths of the underworld.
While it might be too soon for the musical to make the switch from musical to movie now, it’s an amazing concept and packed with fun music that could be translated to an epic movie when the time is right.
The Band’s Visit
More and more nowadays, we’re seeing musicals being adapted from favorite movies like Beetlejuice, Pretty Woman and Matilda. The 2016 modern musical The Band’s Visit is an interesting one because it’s based on an Israeli film of the same name, sans the musical aspect. The production swept the Tony Awards, taking home the “big six,” including Best Musical. Yet, it has not become a well-known or widespread musical yet.
Tony Shalhoub memorably was part of the original cast. It’s about eight men from the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra who arrive in Israel from Egypt and are taken in for the night by some locals. The music to The Band’s Visit is absolutely beautiful and it has a worthwhile message to spread.
The 2016 Tony for “Best Musical” went to an original show called Fun Home, a coming-of-age musical based on a 2006 memoir of the same name by Alison Bechdel. It’s a story that has particularly touched the LGBTQ+ community since it’s the first Broadway musical to be led by a lesbian protagonist.
As Alison comes to grips with her sexuality, she learns that her father was a closeted gay man who had some troubling secrets. There’s some dark topics explored in Fun Home, but it’s told in an original way that would translate well to a movie.
Come From Away
For almost five years now, Come From Away has blown away audiences flocking to Broadway to see this award-winning musical that is set a week after the 9/11 attacks in New York City. The musical tells the story of the 7,000 people who were stranded in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland after all flights were grounded on the tragic day. The musical is about processing the grief and horror of 9/11, along with being a touching story of togetherness and community.
It could translate well into an artful drama similar to the vibe of Dear Evan Hansen someday. If you'd like to see how it looks on stage, AppleTV+ recently made the play available to stream (opens in new tab).
One of the newer Broadway musicals, which actually got its start in the UK, is Six. It’s a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII, with the twist being that it’s about a group of six women who are performing at a pop concert. During the musical, they each take turns sharing personal experiences with Henry. The singer who shares the worst experience with their common ex will become the lead singer of the group.
I could see this being adapted with six well-known singers taking on each role and perhaps expanding the story into further flashbacks of their relationships with Henry. It’s a fun musical full of drama and show-stopping vocals.
The final pick here is Bandstand. This musical is a period piece taking place right after World War II and starring a character named Donny Novitski, a singer/songwriter, who is among a group of other veterans who return home following their service. They are hoping to get back to life “Just Like It Was Before,” as the opening track introduces. The musical would be a great fit for a live-action film that deals with the post-traumatic stress of being in war and Donny’s survivor’s guilt as he pursues music after his experiences. It has a beautiful soundtrack and a winning storyline that deserves the big-screen treatment.
As Dear Evan Hansen hits theaters this weekend, feel free to daydream about more musical adaptations yourself. Movies of its kind coming up next is Tick, Tick… Boom! on November 12 and West Side Story on December 10.
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