Friday, July 5, 2024

Friday 5: 5 Pop-Rock Albums That Deserve the Illinoise Treatment

5 Pop-Rock Albums That Deserve the Illinoise Treatment

Over the past several seasons, Broadway has seen some innovative new musicals created from some classic pop-rock albums. Legendary on their own, each found creative, theatrical extensions to their artistic merit. 2010 saw Green Day's American Idiot turned into an exhilarating rock opera; 2019 brought Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill brought to life as a modern, riveting book musical; and just this past season, Sufjan Stevens' poetic indie classic Illinois into the daring, boundary-pushing dance musical, Illinoise. So, what other classic albums deserve the American Idiot/Jagged Little Pill/Illinoise treatment? Here are 5 we thought of right away:

Bad Girls
- Donna Summer
Yes, I know there's already been a Donna Summer Musical, but this one would tell the story of the titular bad girls. With a driving disco beat, and a treasure trove of recognizable hits like the title number, "Hot Stuff" and "Dim All the Lights," I think with the right director and choreographer this could be pretty spectacular! 

Hotel California 
- The Eagles
With the scent of patchouli subtly wafting through the theater, I picture a darker musical, full of mystery. Evil forces have trapped the guests in that place "you can never leave." With the sixties and its peaceniks in the rear view mirror, and the seventies full steam ahead and corruption and the American Dream broken, "Life in the Fast Lane" seems a sure scene, not to mention the title track. I'm sure it would be a fascinating evening.

Paradise Theater 
- Styx
Given Styx's Dennis DeYoung's penchant for the theatrical - he himself toured in Jesus Christ Superstar, and has said another of their albums, Kilroy Was Here was intended to be a rock opera like Tommy - I'd think this album would be just as great on stage. One need only look at the album art (above) to see the possibilities. Follies should look out! "Rockin' the Paradise," "Too Much Time On My Hands," "The Best of Times," and "Nothing Ever Goes As Planned" are all ripe for the Broadway treatment.

- Fleetwood Mac
Maybe I was inspired by Stereophonic when I thought of this album, but it is such a milestone, I think it should definitely come to the Great Bright Way. Surely a great book writer could concoct a fantastic story to bring such classics to life as "Don't Stop," "Go Your Own Way," "The Chain," and "You Make Lovin' Fun" into an epic show. Funny, if it were ever to happen, I hope they don't turn it into the Fleetwood Mac story.

Songs in the Key of Life 
- Stevie Wonder
Widely regarded as Wonder's signature album, and as one of the greatest of all time, why wouldn't it make a, well, wonderful musical? The sound, the themes, the hit singles ("As," "Isn't She Lovely," and "I Wish" among them) seem perfect for the stage.

I just realized that all five of these albums are from the mid to late 70s. Let us know if you can think of any recordings from other decades might look good in the theater district!

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