Friday, March 31, 2023

What About Plays Turned Into Musicals?

What About Plays Turned Into Musicals? 

So, we are all familiar with the seemingly endless pipeline of movies being turned into musicals. (There are currently four of these running on Broadway.) And there have been plenty of books turned into musicals. (There are currently three of these running on Broadway, not including a play based on a book, Life of Pi.) But what about the play to musical pipeline?

There have been several very successful play-based musicals: Carousel was also Liliom, I Do! I Do! was based on The Fourposter, and several Shakespeare plays were turned into musicals... Kiss Me, Kate and West Side Story come to mind immediately. Currently, Broadway is host to two such musicals - the longest-running American musical, Chicago came from Roxie, and the acclaimed new musical, Kimberly Akimbo, based on David Lindsay-Abaire's play of the same title. 

But, despite the fact there are two play-based musicals currently playing, the play to musical pipeline is a relatively dry one. So Mike and I put our heads together and thought of some plays we've seen that we thought would make interesting musicals. Here's what we came up with, along with suggestions for who could provide equally interesting scores. (Use our idea, we expect credit!) 😉

Lost in Yonkers
Play by Neil Simon
Score by Sara Bareilles 

We can only imagine the fun she'd have writing songs for the two young boys, juxtaposed with ballads for Grandma Kurnitz, and inner-monologue songs for Bella and Louie - not to mention some tricky patter songs for the bickering family! She's great at thoughtful, introspective tunes and catchy toe-tappers!

Casa Valentina
Play by Harvey Fierstein
Score by Ahrens and Flaherty

The current Broadway champs for versatility, we picture an overall American mid-20th century vibe. Plus, we think they could bring some of their amazing historic-era-has-modern-relevance anthems and themes. Picturing a big transformation number, with a parallel deconstruction number in act two. The Mare Winningham role as narrator? And Harvey could expand his play as the book writer,

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Play by Simon Stephens
Score by Elton John and Lin-Manuel Miranda

Marianne Elliott will assume the directorial duties and Stephen Hoggett will choreograph again as well, of course. Sir Elton and Lin-Manuel collaborating would be amazing here, I think: the former gives a British pop sound to the score, while Lin-Manuel would create some amazing rapid-fire lyrics for what I imagine to be Christopher Boone's inner thoughts!

Venus in Fur
Play by David Ives
Score by Michael John LaChiusa

Can you think of a better person to make this tense, sexually charged two-hander sing? We imagine an audience on the edge of their seats, and reaching for a post-orgasm cigarette at the end. In between, we see him opening things up with a small ensemble with taut commentary.

We see great musical potential in both Angels In America and War Horse, but both are so epic that they need full on opera treatment!

Do you have any play to musical ideas? Let us know! Insta or Twitter or comment below!

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