‘Mean Girls’, ‘Legally Blonde’, ‘Beetlejuice’ and ‘Leap of Faith’ are just a few popular movies that have been adapted into musicals in recent years. These remakes have become so popular that audiences are forgiven for forgetting the original movies didn’t even have songs in them. Since audiences are loving these movie adaptations, Theatre Haus is adding our top picks to the list of movies that would make spectacular musicals.
The success of ‘King Kong The Musical’, suggests giant animatronic characters can work on stage. Therefore, it is only natural that ‘Jurassic Park’ be the next adventure movie to be turned into a musical.
The movie centres around a prehistoric theme park, where the owner has cloned dinosaurs from ancient DNA to be used as the main attraction. He swears they are perfectly safe, until they break free and go on the hunt.
The film franchise already has some famous melodies courtesy of John Williams, which could be drawn upon and extended into proper songs. The terrifying dinosaurs could lurk through the theatre Lion King-style, terrifying audiences in an all-immersive experience. Sprays of water could cover the audience and the smell of rainforest and dinosaur breath could be pumped into the theatre – well maybe that is a step too far, but you get the picture.
The desolate darkness of the movie would translate well to the stage; the dark gloom useful in disguising the necessary wires and puppeteers of the dinosaurs. Stage combat would be integral to the action; instead of dance scenes there would be fights set to choreographed music and lighting design.
It would be a terrifyingly wonderful trip to the theatre – stepping into another world for two-and-a-half hours. After all, isn’t that what theatre is supposed to do?
In the same vein as ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘The Fly’ would make both a wonderful musical and intriguing opportunity for a talented actor to utilise their physical acting skills as they become a fly eight times a week.
This movie follows the story of an eccentric scientist whose latest experiment goes awry when a fly gets trapped in his teleportation machine. Gradually, the scientist turns into a half man-half fly creature.
To work well on stage, it must be apparent to the audience that the scientist is becoming the fly – hard to do when there are no closeups. His makeup would slowly become greyer, his costumes hairier as gradually his proboscis grows, taking over his face as his wings emerge.
Of course, the makeup artistry would be the most integral element of the show, as well as the ability for the main character to fly once his transformation is complete.
The music would underscore the transformation, becoming more skittish and buzzing with the artificial tones of the theremin as the scientist loses his identity and body. Songs of anguish and despair would form the basis for the score. It would be similar to ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ – considering he transformed every night. By making a connection to the audience through heart-wrenching songs, they would feel a mix of pity, sadness and horror as they watch the protagonist’s journey.
A few parts of the plot could be rejigged as less gory and producers could add a somewhat happy ending. Nevertheless,it would make for a terrifyingly good night out. Maybe not one to take the children to, but definitely a favourite for the sci-fi and horror fans.
Throw Momma From The Train
This movie stars two comedic legends, Billy Crystal and Danny De Vito, as reluctant friends who find themselves embroiled in a double murder plot. De Vito plays the pathetically desperate and clingy friend to Crystal, his long-suffering writing mentor.
The musical version of this film would not rely on spectacular showstoppers with sets and dancers galore, but rather wonderful casting juxtaposing the two leading men. In addition, someone to play the curmudgeon mother – wicked and biting without a moment’s reprieve. The actors would be the stars of the show, with the other elements aiding to build the scenes around them.
Reminiscent of ‘The Producers’, the story follows the mishaps that befall the lead characters as they become more entangled in each other’s lives. As usual, there is the obligatory love interest that would provide some dramatic moments and soulful songs, duets between the leading men to highlight their opinions of one another, and momma would have some whopping songs, as well.
There are moments of drama, intense annoyance and happiness throughout the story, all which could be transformed through song by a talented composer. Oh, and of course there would have to be a train (it is pivotal in the plot, you know).
The Lost Boys
This vintage horror film would make a wonderful jukebox musical. Though the jukebox-style musical is not to everybody’s taste, the songs from the original movie are so memorable and vital to the ambiance of the story that it would be an injustice to replace them.
The plot revolves around a single mother and her sons’ move to a new city that is hiding a dark secret: it is crawling with vampires. The eldest son is befriended by the group of vampires and ends up becoming one himself. His younger brother must fight to save him before it’s too late.
The cast of misfit young vampires would provide a powerful image on stage, especially when we enter their lair and see them sleeping upside down. There are many theatrical moments in the movie and Joel Schumacher’s direction involved shooting a lot of the film from the perspective of the vampires. This bird’s eye view would be difficult to replicate on stage, but not impossible. Clever stage direction would mean the vampires are never seen flying or with wings but the audience still gets the feeling of flying – perhaps through the use of projection screens, wind machines and lighting effects.
Many locations are covered in the film, so some wonderful sets could be made – including the beach and boardwalk, the vampires lair, comic book shop and house where the final scene takes place, giving set designers the opportunity to showcase their talents. Costuming is very important to this show. The vampires have a distinct look in the film that would need to be echoed on stage: black leather and chains. This late 1980s goth vibe is juxtaposed with the colourful teen fashion of the main characters.
The eclectic soundtrack of the movie could be supplemented by other songs by the same bands, such as INXS and Echo and the Bunnymen. No new songs need be written as they would not blend with the originals. Powerful underscoring and orchestrations with screechy violins that mimic a bat’s cry is all that is needed to transform this powerful movie into an award-winning play.
This may seem a strange choice to make into a musical, but it would work. The biographical movie follows the titular character, played by Julia Roberts, from her humble beginnings as a single mother to an international legal ambassador. While working in an office, she discovers the town’s water company is poisoning local residents and she becomes determined to stop them.
There are many evocative moments in the plot that would translate well onto stage. The mysterious illnesses that have taken hold of the town would make a stirring group number. The moment Erin realises what the problem is – her epiphany. The heated legal arguments in the courtroom and eventually the long-awaited victory for the town. Of course, there is also a love interest, which would provide useful inspiration for a romantic duet.
The difficulty in staging this is that so much of the action takes place outside in rural properties and water reservoirs. However, done right, this empowering true story could triumph on stage. One suggested stipulation: no dance numbers. The gravity of the show would be undermined should any fancy choreography appear.
The reason the film would work so well as a musical is because the audience can really root for the characters. Erin is inspiring and audiences would be on her side from the first moments of the play, and stories of the town residents would pull the patrons’ heart strings and not leave a dry eye in the theatre.
A strong female lead is vital to the success of this show – think of a young Patti LuPone who has the determination, drive and voice to bring a multimillion dollar company to their knees. The songs would have to match: powerful ballads, haunting group numbers and intensely fierce courtroom debates set to music would bring the action to life.
Intense, sad, thought-provoking and witty – what more could you want in a musical?
This movie could make a terrifyingly terrific musical. It is set in an ordinary neighbourhood where a not-so-ordinary family moves in. The title character, played by Tom Hanks, is determined to find out the secrets of his new neighbours and what he finds is pretty shocking, almost bringing the neighbourhood to its knees.
The movie is sometimes listed as a horror and other times as a comedy; striking the balance between the two on stage is important. The oddball family could give rise to some wonderful songs but the director would need to avoid making the characters too cartoonish, lest they lose their mystery.
The musical would give the opportunity for some fabulous roles, from normal neighbourhood folks to characters the likes of Riff Raff from ‘Rocky Horror’ and Gomez from ‘The Addams Family’. Not to mention some wonderful scenes, including the entire house blowing up and a suspenseful fight in the back of an ambulance.
The opportunity to bring a suburban street to life on stage, with the set staying the same throughout the show and the facades of each house rotating when the action is centred there, would be a novel and creative way to keep the neighbourly ambiance, with some astroturf for good measure.
The songs would contrast the neighbourhood friends (with their classic lives and classic melodies) and the new family (with a complex and dissonant score so unpleasant and grating, even Stephen Sondheim would be impressed).
This is a musical the director and actors could have a lot of fun with. It is rarely serious, sometimes comedic and often preposterous. Audiences have to suspend their imagination and believe what is happening in this neighbourhood could happen in real life. But that is the point of theatre – to experience the unexpected and have a wonderful night; this show would provide all that and more.