Yesterday, Deadline reported that Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window is headed to Broadway for a stage adaptation by the producer and director team of Charlie Lyons and Jay Russell (The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep). It makes perfect sense for the film given the single location of the story and how the elaborate set already looks like something constructed for a play. But while many have tried in the past to bring the property to the stage, this is the first time anyone could secure the rights to the source material, Cornell Woolrich's short story "It Had to Be Murder." Perhaps it was the success of the stage version of The 39 Steps or of Lyons' Bring It On: The Musical -- or both?
Movies are turned into stage plays or musicals all the time, whether officially in a Broadway theater or for comedic results by smaller troupes. Currently, in addition to Bring It On, hot tickets in NYC based on films include Newsies, Mary Poppins, The Lion King and Once (and while Glengarry Glen Ross began as a play, the casting of Al Pacino for the new revival is obviously related to the film version). London, meanwhile, additionally has shows based on the films Billy Elliot, Shrek, Singin' in the Rain, The Bodyguard (beginning in two weeks) and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (beginning in three weeks). Sometimes they're even turned back into movies.
Given the regularity that such stage productions are announced, it would seem that eventually every movie with a notable soundtrack will be turned into a musical. But it's not as easy to predict what films could easily be turned into straight plays, a la Rear Window. Or what should be. Maybe some other great single-location stories such as Hitchcock's Lifeboat, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Stuart Hazeldine's Exam, Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel and -- how the heck has this not happened yet? -- John Hughes's The Breakfast Club. Okay, some of these might have been put on off-Broadway somewhere in the world.
Any movie can work, though, even documentaries. We've seen nonfiction films like Grey Gardens and Southern Comfort hit the stage for musicals, but given the recent achievements in live documentary by Sam Green (Utopia in Four Movements) and Lawrence Wright (My Trip to Al-Qaeda, which was made into a film by Alex Gibney), I wonder if any docs could do well translated to the stage with obviously a lot of projected clips. The Law in These Parts would be an easy live show if they were able to get the interviewees back for multiple engagements. This Is Not a Film could be lifted well but perhaps not so interestingly. The Arbor would seem to work, but much of its appeal is that it's staged in a council-estate courtyard with a lot of relevant real-life people. Otherwise it's just a lot of reworkings of Andrea Dunbar's plays. Okay, here's one I'll see: a stage adaptation of Chimpanzee.
What films should be turned into stage plays or musicals?
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