Tuesday, June 9, 2020

BEST OF THE DECADE: 15 Favorite New Musicals Based on Films

Love 'em or hate 'em, musicals based on films have been on Broadway for decades. There have been some great ones (Grand Hotel, Sunset Boulevard), and some not so great ones (you know what we are talking about...). The past decade has been no exception. There were some less than fantastic screen-to-stage adaptations, and some really amazing, maybe-even-better-than-the-movie shows, too. Today, Mike and I are pleased to share our Top 15.

NOTE: Before we get started, yes, a few of these are also based on the book that the film was based on. We kept them on the list because the titles are known as much (if not more) for their movie version.

Best of the Decade:
Jeff and Mike's 15 Favorite
Musicals Based on Films

15. Amélie (2017)
Was it perfect? No. But it was a charming, delightfully quirky show with stand out performances by Phillipa Soo, Adam Chanler-Berat and Tony Sheldon.

14. Disney's Frozen (2018)
I think this was a mostly wonderful show, beautiful to look at, and lead by an uber-talented cast of principals. I hope I never forget Caissie Levy's thrilling "Let It Go," or the sweet goofiness of Jelani Alladin and Patti Murin. I also think the show suffered from a combination of unrealistic expectations and some...odd directorial choices...

13. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2010)
We saw this very early on in its run, and always wondered what might have been had they taken more time to work through it. Still, it was a zany, hilarious and often touching show, full of talent on stage and off, and a score that is still one of my favorites to listen to all these years later.

12. Disney's Newsies (2012)
Definitely an improvement on the film version (which I also like), there is something about seeing such spectacular dancing live. Ryan Steele is a national treasure, and Jeremy Jordan was wonderful.

11. An American in Paris (2015)
Talk about spectacular dancing! A gorgeous production and spectacular Gershwin tunes are an embarrassment of riches. But they could have/should have quit while they were ahead. After the big title number, that should have been it. Seemed like another hour until the curtain call.

10. Catch Me If You Can (2011)
I'm still scratching my head as to why this show wasn't a huge hit. The cast was perfection - Aaron Tveit was a force of nature, Norbert Leo Butz was never better, and, well, I just love everything Kerry Butler does. And that score! And Jerry Mitchell's concept/staging/choreography was amazing.

9. Finding Neverland (2015)
I loved this show so much, and I know a lot of people didn't. I loved to score, the anachronistic staging and choreography. (I could have done without the gratuitous Cheers references.) And I audibly sobbed at the end (and what a stunning effect!) - sorry if I was embarrassing, Mike!

8. Disney's Aladdin (2014)
We had serious doubts that this would work on stage. But we were very pleasantly surprised at how spectacular it was (is?)! What an extravaganza! We especially enjoyed the theatricality, a great balance of stage magic and broad cinematic tableau. And how could you not love Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart as Genie?

7. Kinky Boots (2013)
While I still maintain that Harvey Fierstein did this story better when he wrote La Cage aux Folles, the book was more than serviceable. But it was the thoroughly wonderful score by Cyndi Lauper that won me over. I can't wait for her next score! And of course, what a privilege to see Billy Porter's iconic turn as Lola.

6. Priscilla Queen of the Desert (2011)
One of the most fun evenings I've ever spent in the theater, this spectacular in every way show was hilarious, gorgeous to look at, and so heartwarming. The show wouldn't have been half as good without the perfectly cast trio that lead the company - Will Swensen, Nick Adams and Tony Sheldon. And we can't forget Priscilla herself!

5. The Bridges of Madison County (2014)
A beautiful show, a beautiful score. Should have run for years.

4. Moulin Rouge! (2019)
Spectacular! Spectacular! It was great in Boston, and even better on Broadway. Visually stunning, with a truly amazing triple-threat cast from top to bottom, the show is amazing. Is it deep? No. And it shouldn't be; this is pure entertainment. We can't forget the tour de force performances of Karen Olivo, Aaron Tveit and (especially) Danny Burstein!

3. Once (2012)
I wept during "Falling Slowly." I was swept away by the romance, and the palpable chemistry between Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti. The staging by John Tiffany and movement by Steven Hoggett made this gem sparkle like magic.

2. American Psycho (2016)
Not just a great show based on a film (and a book), this was a great show, period. Benjamin Walker! Duncan Sheik! Alice Ripley riding a washing machine! Clever, smart, and a psychotic nightmare come to life - why isn't this show still running?

1. The Band's Visit (2017)
This is one of our favorite musicals of all time. Mesmerizing performances (Katrina Lenk, Tony Shalhoub), charming performances (Ari'el Stachel, Etai Benson, Adam Kantor, John Cariani), a gorgeous score (David Yazbek) and brilliant staging (David Cromer). The show gave us hope for humanity. We are better for the experience.


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