Turning films into musicals isn’t exactly a new concept. While film to stage adaptations have been around well into the history of the West End, over the last twenty to thirty years we’ve seen more and more material make the move from the silver screen to the boards. And with plenty more set to come – School of Rock and Mrs Doubtfire on Broadway, Groundhog Day in the West End, and Back to the Future hidden away in a writer’s mind somewhere – here’s my list of ten films that need to be given the musical treatment in the near future.
10 – Moulin Rouge
Let’s start with the obvious one. Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge movie caused a right hubbub on its release in 2001, and even managed to win the Best Picture award at the Oscars, but despite including a soundtrack based on popular songs, being filled with dance numbers and theatrical characters, it’s yet to make it to a London or New York stage. Who knows why? There have been rumours for years but none have come to fruition. Half the film is even filmed on a stage, for goodness sake…
9 – Bedknobs and Broomsticks
There are two live action Disney films that can safely take the ‘Classic’ title in vain: one is Mary Poppins (which we have already seen do well on stage), and the other is Bedknobs and Broomsticks. And while the latter may not have quite the same prestige as Poppins, it’s arguably more magical, more inventive and far less preachy. And with Angela Lansbury on record as saying she wants it made, who are we to argue? The West End is crying out for a flying bed, and we all want to see something new in the Palladium, so feel free to sort it out soon Disney.
8 – The Truman Show
“In case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and good night,” – I can hear it in song already. The story of a man trapped in a giant television studio, living his life as though he is out in the real world, The Truman Show already had a theatrical element to it when it was released back in 1999. A nice blend of drama and comedy, it raises interesting questions about the morals of making entertainment of unaware subjects. Luckily, anyone taking part in The Truman Show the musical would be completely aware, so hurry up and get it sorted, because I reckon this would be a great adaptation.
7 – Psycho
Back in 2013 we had American Pyscho the musical, and perhaps we could see Psycho the musical in 2016. Not your usual subject matter for a musical, I’ll give you that, but this Alfred Hitchcock classic could be a right treat in the hands of a decent creative team. If only to see the eerie surroundings of Bates Motel realised on stage, this would be a great production, and I can already see Norman Bates with a knife in his hand singing ‘At last! My arm is complete again’.
6 – Ocean’s Eleven
It’s safe to say that musicals have a bit of an obsession with scam artists – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Producers, Catch Me If You Can, Aladdin… – so what could be better than eleven of them? There was a real glossiness to both the Sinatra original and the Clooney remake that would translate well to stage, and while I’m not sure how this would work logistically, you could quite easily give each of the characters one song each and have the full score sorted.
5 – Sleepless in Seattle
It was in development hell for years and never made it further than the Pasadena Playhouse, but Sleepless in Seattle is prime musical material. I can see hoards of hen parties in tears already as Sam and Annie stand atop a fake Empire State Building singing about their love for each other. I’m sure it would be cheesy as hell, but sometimes that’s all you need. It’ll be interesting to see if this makes it any further in the next few years, so watch this space (although, unless a miracle happens, I can’t see the space being filled anytime soon).
4 – Edward Scissorhands
So there may already be a massively successful ballet version by Matthew Bourne, but this is crying out for the musical treatment. While there’s a slight problem in that the central character doesn’t really talk, let alone sing, the supporting characters all more than make up for that. With a gothic-cum-suburban vibe, we’ve already seen how good it can look on stage so it’s just about making sure the score fits the bill and lives up to the precedent of Danny Elfman’s film soundtrack.
3 – Ghostbusters
A quick Google tells me that this has already happened, but as I can’t see any evidence of a professional English-language production, I’m adding it to the list. Staging-wise, I’m sure this would be an absolute nightmare to get your head around, but if the humour was done with more wit than farce, it could be a cracker. At the end of the day, though, even with the best score in the world, it would really be about making sure it had the right cast; I wonder what Bill Murray’s singing is like…
2 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Who knows how this could be realised on stage, but I’m sure someone, somewhere out there would be up for the challenge. A real classic of the 80s, this has been crying out for a stage release since it was first realised! Yes, it would need to go back to the drawing board, and yes it would be physically impossibly to fully achieve what was done on film on the stage, but there are middle aged men everywhere just waiting to see a real life Jessica Rabbit strutting her stuff on stage.
1 – Shaun of the Dead
OK hear me out on this on. I know it’s an unlikely candidate, but there simply aren’t enough zombies on stage, and if any were to lend themselves to the musical setting, it’s the Shaun of the Dead zombies. Why? Because unlike 99% of zombie films, this one is actually supposed to be funny, and it’s that humour that would transfer well to the West End. It could be terrible, but it could also be the best thing you’ve ever seen in your life. I won’t hold me hopes on it actually happening, but everyone keep your fingers crossed. Don’t question my logic – just go with it.
That’s my list anyway! How about you? What would you like to see on stage? Let me know in the comments below…