Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday Triple: Film to Stage

The Wedding Singer opens tonight. No, not the Adam/Drew romance sillies --that opened years ago, keep up! No it's the Broadway version of the same. This new entry into the rapidly expanding library of movies turned into Broadway shows has the same problems as the others: Blind adherence to the movie (in a stage show you don't need scene changes every two minutes, it's distracting) and a weak score ("Wedding Day," this show's main anthem, is fun but it's way too simple to be reprised continuously. It doesn't add any new flavors as it goes) and confusion about whether the actors should mimic the film versions or create a character.

This is not to say that people won't like this incarnation of the comedy. I bet it'll be a hit. The audience I saw it with went wild for its easy 80s gags. The best thing about the show is the supporting cast who are mostly better than their material. Amy Spanger makes the most of her stock role as "Holly" the best friend and Felicia Finley (remember the name, she's pictured to your left) absolutely rocks the house in her two short scenes as Robbie's skanky ex, "Linda". The leads are less enticing. Stephen Lynch is good but when in doubt he mimics Sandler. Laura Benanti is a mess and the score doesn't do her any favors. Her solos are all DOA. Following someone as effortlessly cutesy charming as Drew Barrymore has got to be a thankless task, poor thing.

As you may well know, I prefer the stage to stay legitimate. I prefer transfers to happen the other way around. But since Broadway shows costs millions and charge $100 a seat, known properties are practically the only way to go. But since I can't turn the tide, I'll at least offer some advice as to suitably transferrable properties.

Three Romantic Comedies Suitable For Broadway
Since it's Pfeiffer week here at the blog, we'll start with Married to the Mob, the wacky 1988 comedy. Mobsters have proven to be reliable comedy gold before (think Kiss Me Kate) and it's pretty easy to imagine a showstopping number with the big-haired mob wives (Joan Cusack and Mercedes Reuhl in the film version). For the Pfeiffer role, why not Broadway's own Sutton Foster who has alread proved thrice (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Little Women, and The Drowsy Chaperone) that she is an expertly physical musical comedy star.

I can't believe I'm mentioning it but What Women Want would also work. It's high concept, funny in that overarching all demographics way, and the 'hearing other people's thoughts' thing is easy on stage since the 4th wall is broken anyway. Top it off with that obviously transferrable intro number: the lead as a child / mommy and her friends as showgirls . The audience is already cheering the first "You Gotta Have a Gimmick" style opening dance number.

Replace Renee Zellweger with someone who can actually sing and dance and Bridget Jones's Diary seems like a Tony winning musical character. She's clumsy. She's funny. She's sassy. She dreams big. She falls in and out of love rapidly. And you know that the first act can close with a hot playboy bunny costumed solo.

Why is this so hard for Broadway? Multi-million dollar transfers are easy as pie.

tags: Sutton Foster, movies, celebrities, Broadway, musicals, The Wedding Singer, stage, Renee Zellweger, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Michelle Pfeiffer,


Anonymous said...

NEWS: "Legally Blonde" is also becoming a broadway musical. WTF? Oy. What is wrong with people? CAN WE LIVE IN A WORLD WITHOUT BROADWAY MUSICALS BASED ON SUCCESSFUL FILMS??!! :sighs: I know the answer. Yes. But most people choose to do it. Oh well.

adam k. said...

"Replace Renee Zellweger with someone who can actually sing and dance"? Ouch. She wasn't THAT bad. Her singing was quite decent. Not great, but adequate... and her dancing probably would've been better had she not been unhealthily, anorezically thin. How did she even manage to hold herself up in the Chicago days? (shudders)

Anonymous said...

"Mobsters have proven to be reliable comedy gold before (think Kiss Me Kate)"

um... Guys and Dolls would seem to be the more obvious example there... (although the thugs in Kiss Me Kate are quite amusing I will admit).