Wednesday, July 16, 2008

9 to 5 and twice on Wednesdays

As you've undoubtedly heard, the classic 80s comedy 9 to 5 is coming to Broadway with all new songs by the one & only Dolly Parton. Movie-to-stage musicals are all the rage these days (it used to be the other way 'round) largely because they're critic proof and to some extent even word-of-mouth proof. When you're charging $100+ a ticket for a show you can't afford to produce anything that isn't already a known quantity and easily saleable in advance.

If I sound cynical well, I love the theater and it gets depressing. We'll never get the next Sondheim --hell, we won't even get the next Guettel or LaChusia -- if the only thing that gets produced is transfers. Nevertheless, of all the movie-to-stage projects this one seems like a natural. The movie is already cartoonish. It's already got setpieces for each character that would could house perfect solos. It's already got a hit song. If the stage version gets good reviews I'll totally be punching the clock since the film holds a special place in my heart.

They held a meet & greet with the cast yesterday [more photos @ A Socalite's Life] with Dolly cheerleading. Y'all know Alison Janney (far left below) already. She'll be handling Lily Tomlin's ringleader "Violet" role.

Dolly's part "Doralee", the sexually harrassed secretary, will be played by Megan Hilty who's been logging time on the boards in Kristin Chenowith's old Glinda role in the unstoppable Wicked [tangent: now where's that reverse stage-to-movie transfer? You'd think a smash like that would work in the opposite direction and go back to the screen. Too expensive to mount?]. Stephanie Block is stepping into Jane Fonda's "Judy" role. She's also been logging time in Wicked.

If it sounds intimidating to follow Jane Fonda into anything, don't worry about Stephanie. Her last successful Broadway gig was marriage to Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz (pictured together, left) Listen up: if you can pretend to be Liza Minnelli whilst singing and dancing you're probably brave enough to do anything. Finally, everyone's favorite "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss-from-hell inhabited by Dabney Coleman on film will be filled by Broadway regular Marc Kudisch, who is (trivia alert) Kristen Chenowith's ex. He's got a huge booming voice and he's pretty good at the bombastic smug comedy. If the casting isn't surprising it still seems pretty sensible. Break a leg!

How do you feel about 80s movie comedies like Hairspray and 9 to 5 becoming Broadway musicals: The death of the theater or all in good fun?


Anonymous said...

Hairspray makes my soul bleed

Glenn said...

I have a feeling The Princess Bride is going to win this poll and I just think that'd be a terrible idea. Completely and utterly terrible idea.

I really want a Light in the Piazza movie, personally :)

Anonymous said...

I saw "Gypsy" about 3 weeks ago....Lily Tomlin was sitting behind me! How exciting was that!

Hayden said...

Well, you're in luck for that Wicked movie:

Personally, I wish we could just get an adaptation of Maguire's novel. The musical glazes over a lot of the dark, seedy, cinematic elements of the backstory, social context, etc. It's a great show, but it might look a little shallow onscreen, whereas a dramatic adaptation of the book by someone like Cuaron, Del Toro, or even Burton could take the story to more interesting places without limiting two actresses with the demands of a musical.

The characters are too well-written to waste with a musical adaptation. It could be so much better as a drama.

Literature Crazy said...

Is there nothing original out there? Have we run out of creative ideas? Jesus, people, can we not find inspiration for musicals beyond what Hollywood has already done? (And don't get me started on the movie to musical to movie of Hairspray.)

Runs Like A Gay said...

As much as as these movies becoming musicals irritates me it is hardly a new thing:

The King and I (film 1956, broadway 1951), based on Anna and the King of Siam (1946), based on Margaret Landon's biography.

My Fair Lady (film 1964, Broadway 1956), based on the Pygmalion (film 1938, Play 1914).

Little Shop of Horrors (film 1986, broadway 1982) based on Roger Corman film from 1960.

Phantom of the Opera (film 2004, Broadway 1986) based on the many films (famously Lon Chaney in 1925) and Gaston Leroux's book.

Admittedly only Little Shop of Horrors is a direct adaptation of a film, but in the other 3 cases the films were really quite famous in their own right.

Why should musicals be original anyway?


"why should musicals be original anyway?"

I agree that you don't need to start with an original premise to make something great. But direct adaptations are more than unoriginal premises.

I think this boils down to the need to nurture future musical geniuses. If musicals only come from known properties they are by their nature corporate entities... or projects that require lots and lots of money to even get off the ground. Money for rights on top of the standard money. The more people involved the less chance you have of getting any auteurial work.

How can the young composers be discovered if people aren't interested in "new"?

In this climate you'd never get anything like Sondheim's COMPANY, SWEENEY TODD, INTO THE WOODS etcetera, masterpieces all.

Cinesnatch said...

Tootsie seems like the natural way to go. In fact, I'd be surprised if someone wasn't working on it right now.

Runs Like A Gay said...

You're right, of course, with the increased costs of putting on these adaptations there are increased pressures on the composers to ensure the score is inoffenive and catchy. More Pop Charts than Pink Floyd Concept record.

And we the audiences flock to the adaptations we recognise. Probably not caring about the quality of the music anyway.

Can geniuses' flourish in this environment? Can they take a hot commercial property and add in music and lyrics that can transcend the original material?

I believe a true genius can. They will be able to work within the contraints of the market and produce groundbreaking work. If only because eventually the market will demand something different, eventually when broadway is full of film to stage adaptations it will take more than that to bring in the punters.

And a genius has a way of turning up when you least expect it. If they write genius tunes, with genius lyrics they will be noticed.

After all, who would have thought the man behind A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Anyone Can Whistle would go on to Company, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods?

Anonymous said...

A "Wicked" film is coming out? Love it!!!! It's about time this happened.


well the wicked film is "coming out" so much as being talked up. With all the "we want to wait until the stage play has had a long enough run.

Hollywood can be so silly. It's like they don't understand to plan for delays which they ALWAYS have. If they started screenwriting this very second it still probably wouldn't make it to theaters until 2012 (if that) ... silly to wait around for the property to ripen. It'll be an OLD show by the time the movie gets here.

TB said...

In the past few years we've had Avenue Q, Spring Awakening, Grey Gardens, The Drowsy Chaperone, Urinetown: The Musical, Light in the Piazza, The Full Monty, In the Heights, Passing Strange, and of course Wicked. Are any of these musicals at the level of Company, Assasins, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, or Sunday in the Park with George (all of which are Sondheim, and all of which have seen revivals in the past eight years)? No, of course not.

But, I don't think that you can expect one of those musicals from this generation. There are no Sondheims anymore, the same way there were no more Rodgers and Hammersteins in his generation. All we are doing now is waiting for our genius to write that show, and maybe then Broadway will climb back to its former glory.

Something's coming,
I don't know what it is,
but it is,
gonna be great.

NicksFlickPicks said...

Isn't Stephanie Black sort of shooting off a "Laura Dern in INLAND EMPIRE" vibe in that photo with Jackman?

Now there's a movie that would make a great Broadway musical. The "Locomotion" takes care of itself. The numbers for Grace Zabriskie and the homeless Asian woman at the end would be unbeatable bookends.