The Playgoer: I Can Dream, Can't I?

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Monday, August 11, 2008

I Can Dream, Can't I?

by Abigail Katz

So, as usual, Charles Isherwood got me thinking, this time about musicals for film and stage. In his article "Singing! Dancing! Adapting! Stumbling!" from this Sunday's Times he considers the successes and failures of Broadway musicals that have been adapted for musicals on the big screen. He concludes that the best film musicals were those that were specifically created for that medium, such as "Singin' in the Rain" (one of my all time favorites, and I guess one of everyone else's too). I would like to add to that list "Gigi," "An American in Paris," "Meet Me in St. Louis" and "All That Jazz." Yes, a couple of these were based on previous underlying material, but adapted as musicals specifically for film.

Of course this isn't what I really wanted to write about in response to Isherwood's article. He also addresses his journey with the musical "Mama Mia!"-from London to Broadway to Vegas to film- and it got me thinking about that bastard child of musical theatre genres- the jukebox musical. I know. Enough has been written about this. No one wants to hear it anymore. But considering this genre has had widely varying degrees of success ("Jersey Boys" and "Mama Mia!" on the blockbuster side, "Good Vibrations" and "All Shook Up" not so much) I thought I would offer some ideas of my own to enrich a formula that is apparently here to stay. So for you creative teams and producers out there, here it goes:

A Bruce Springsteen musical called (what else?) "Born to Run." Admit it, you've been dreaming about it too.

A Pete Seeger musical (a bio-musical if you will, much like "Jersey Boys") called "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy." Because he's Pete Seeger, he's awesome, and he deserves a musical.

A stage adaptation of The Beatles' animated classic "Yellow Submarine." Julie Taymor, are you available?

Another screen to stage adaptation- "What's Love Got to Do With It?" accompanied by a reality TV show to cast Tina Turner.

And what I think is kind of a stroke of genius, "The One Hit Wonder Musical", featuring show-stopping numbers like Toni Basil's "Mickey" (complete with dancing cheerleaders), "Don't Put Another Dime in the Jukebox" (a little jukebox musical humor?) by The Flirts, and the grand finale featuring the greatest one-hit wonder of all time, "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners.

It's a copyright nightmare, but just think how much fun it would be. If anyone has more suggestions (or is aware of any of the above that are already in the works) please write in. Let's keep the jukebox musical alive!


The EsoCritic said...

These are great ideas... any one of them would earn either critical acclaim, a cult following, and/or heaps upon heaps of money.

Sadly, they would also serve to keep swirling us down the bowl of manufactured and repackaged drivel instead of encouraging original work.

But yes, I think the current crop of producers should tak eyou out to lunch Ms. Katz.

Esther said...

Oh wow, I'd love a Springsteen jukebox musical! But my idea is for a Richie Valens jukebox musical. With the success of In the Heights, I think there's a market for Latino-themed shows. And I love the movie "La Bamba."

Roger Dunbar said...

A Nirvana musical entitled "All Apologies". I'd pay to see that.

Kate Hanley said...

I was lucky enough to be around Capital Rep in Albany when they premiered the Neil Sedaka jukebox musical, "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do." Not sure if it would work on Broadway but it was totally enjoyable. And Mr. Sedaka came to opening night and then sang for us at the cast party. Admit it, you're humming "Love Will Keep us Together" right now.


So, I meant to comment on this yesterday.

I actually am glad you wrote about this, I myself having written an uber-bad jukebox musical of sorts for my Intro to Theatre class last year.

So here're some ideas I've had:

Spice Girls' Spice World album. Though you may not have been in the target age range to have been on the "Girl Power!" bandwagon, admit it: the Spice Girls were cool. AND they had some pretty catchy songs. The musical I have in mind would be NOTHING like the eponymous film starring our fave popsters, but the songs have enough leeway for some interestingly weaved storylines.

For more darker fare, I'd say anything by Coldplay, the band whose songs are so dynamic and heartfelt, that one could easily write a love tragedy book to the music. If you need further proof, listen to "Amsterdam" (not to be confused with Stew's sunshiny song of the same name, mind you).

I also agree with Roger on the Nirvana musical -- that would be awesome.

Eric Sims said...

"Don't Stop Believin'"- the Journey musical. Or it could be a musical version of the Sopranos finale. Either way.