No one loves breaking out into unplanned song and dance more than I do — hell, I’ve seen “Mamma Mia” so many times I’m practically an honorary member of the Dynamos — and if I had just an ounce of musical talent, my name would be written in lights on the Broadway marquise.
I’m sure the Broadway Gods had me in mind when they announced that some of my all-time favorite movies were going to make the transition from the big screen to the stage. They thought I’d be flying first class to the Big Apple, and ordering tickets as soon as presale was released, but boy were they wrong. Just because a plot is good on screen, doesn’t mean it will translate well put to lyrics.
Regina George displayed her horrible-but-hilarious spoiled brat-titude in her 2018 Broadway debut, and Rocky was seen swinging and singing on stage a few years before. Allie and Noah’s love story is set to unfold under the stage lights just a few months from now and, announced last Tuesday, Miranda Priestly will be storming the stage to rule the fashion empire in song? These four cinematic masterpieces have made it on the far too long list of movies-turned-musicals in the past five years — and I’m not here for it.
And based on the live shows’ ratings and reviews, neither are others — there’s just no need to ruin a perfectly good movie, especially when it means losing the quintessential Broadway originality.
The track-record of these shows have been, well, “Rocky.” “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” failed miserably. “Carrie” was not shut down once but twice. And “The Wedding Singer” should’ve stuck to singing at weddings, not on Broadway Ave.
Generations (i.e. mine) that have been raised on these movies just aren’t that into these musical adaptations of our childhood, especially when they leave out crucial parts of the films — I mean seriously, you can’t just take Rasputin out of “Anastasia,” he’s the best part. He’s the villain, the conflict, the story.
To be completely honest here, I haven’t flown to NYC to see any of these parroted shows in person — I’ve done my research through New York Times’ critical reviews to validate my initial reaction, and even spent over eight hours listening to the soundtracks on Spotify. And let me tell you, the songs are good and the singers are absolutely Broadway-picked, they didn’t make my ears bleed. In fact, the notes were perfectly-pitched, even so to the point where I’ve been humming a few of these catchy tunes on my ride to school, but that’s not the point.
We don’t need fluffy songs to move along an already well-developed plot, that’s why it was a movie in the first place.
The music of Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls: The Musical” is catchy, sure, but as far as serving a purpose, there is none. There’s no organic reason as to why our characters feel the sudden urge to break out into song and coincidentally choreographed dance moves. every. single. scene. And the Plastics don’t need to sing about being “the prettiest poison you’ve ever seen” and “never weighing more than 115” — queue “Meet the Plastics” — when the plot and script are already centered around that fact.
Now if your Broadway-blood wasn’t already boiling, here’s the part where those of you who swear by live shows might lose their musical marbles. Broadway’s tendency to pull highly-rated movies and turn them into what they think will be highly-rated musicals has lead theater to lose its originality. Sure there’s the groundbreaking original shows like Hamilton and The Book of Mormon — both of which I’ve seen and left the theater in awe — but for every one of those, there’s four more “Beetlejuices.”
Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Be-came an overnight sensation thanks to Tik-Tok-featured songs and award-winning apocalyptic-esque set designs. But this frantic adaptation of Tim Burton’s original tries too hard to keep you on your toes — so much so that the tunes exhausted me, forcing me to focus on them alone rather than studying the Constitution for AP Gov.
I don’t want to sit here and bash on the hard work of these producers, and I’m not saying there are zero exceptions to these musical monstrosities, because there are some. Let’s take “Legally Blonde” for example: Elle Woods’ perfectly pink style and killer confidence transitioned to the stage seamlessly. The music made sense and the flow of the songs with the plot was perfectly thought out — but that’s just because I saw the musical three times at Starlight before I was exposed to the movie.
For people who haven’t seen the originals, sit back, enjoy the show and let me know how it is, but I’ll be saving my ticket for a fresher storyline. You know I love an impromptu song and dance break as much as the next girl, but it’s time for Broadway to focus on their originals — because piggy-backing off of films just isn’t cutting it.