ByKen Anderson, writer at
Ken Anderson

Many successful Broadway and West End stage productions originated as Hollywood musicals. Newsies, Saturday Night Fever, Mary Poppins, Singin' in the Rain, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Victor/Victoria, and even that legendary roller-disco flop, Xanadu, started out as motion pictures and were profitably remounted and reimagined for the stage. Of late, Broadway has announced forthcoming productions based on the films An American in Paris, Gigi, and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and there's no reason to believe there won't be more to come.

However, I think it's a safe bet to rule out the possibility of Broadway adaptations of these movie musical least I hope so:

Can't Stop the Music (1980) - Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys have proven the popularity of jukebox musicals, so a show devoted to the anthem-like disco ditties of The Village People might well find an audience. But a campy, closet-case plot which casts the costumed crooners as women-lovin' heterosexuals?...I'm not so sure.

Lost Horizon (1973) - Songwriting team Burt Bacharach & Hal David had a swinging, innovative Broadway hit with Promises, Promises back in 1968 (based on the 1960 film, The Apartment), but the tepid, New-Agey score they came up with for Lost Horizon would run the risk of making an evening of musical theater feel like a literal eternity...Shangri-La style.

The First Nudie Musical (1976) - Dancing dildos, topless tap-dancers, lesbian seduction, Fosse-esque prostitutes...maybe this would fly as suitable musical material for the Broadway of the 70s, but certainly not the Disney-fied Broadway of today!

New York, New York (1977) - A wonderful score by Kander & Ebb (Cabaret) mixed with classic standards from the 1940s are small compensation for an unpleasant, loutish leading man, an irritatingly passive leading lady, and a romance no one in their right mind can root for.

The Cool Ones (1967) - This satirical go-go curiosity would be worth mounting as a Broadway musical just to see a full scale production number built around "The Tantrum:" a dance that kinda looks like shock treatment set to music.

Sextette (1978) - Mae West's 1961 play about a movie star juggling six husbands was turned into a geriatric disco-nightmare of a musical in 1978 (West was in her 80s by then). And while I can imagine perhaps Raquel Welch in a stage version of this (she evidently was fine in Victor,Victoria and Woman of the Year), the musical's bizarre mix of drag aesthetics and homoeroticism hint at a vehicle better suited to Harvey Fierstein. Click Here for Video clip.

"Take Your Grandmother to Work Day" at the gym
"Take Your Grandmother to Work Day" at the gym

At Long Last Love (1975) - This one really doesn't deserve to be on the list because, with actual singers and dancers in the cast, there's no telling how charmingly this romantic Cole Porter ronde might play on stage. Cinematically, we only have evidence of a lead-footed, tin-eared, multimillion-dollar high-school play.

Popeye (1980) - There's a very good possibility that someone, sometime, somewhere, will want to bring the exploits of E.C. Segar's one-eyed sailor and his beloved Olive Oly (or Olives Oly, in Popeye-speak) to the Broadway stage. It's just unlikely that that someone will be interested in adapting this film's overplotted story and repetitious Henry Nilsson songs.

The Blue Bird (1976) - This misguided US/Soviet collaboration is the screen's fifth incarnation of Maurice Maeterlinck's fantasy about two children's search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. With the potential to be another The Wizard of Oz, the star-studded, ill-fated The Blue Bird wound up a foul turkey. One listen to the jaw-dropping "The Blue Haloo" and you'll know why any Broadway mounting of this classic allegorical fairy tale should start out by tossing this score into the Volga.

All That Jazz (1979) - Bob Fosse IS Broadway, but it's doubtful even die-hard fans would find the undoubtedly breathtaking theatrical staging of "Take Off With Us/Air-ortica," "Everything Old is New Again," and "Bye Bye Life" sufficient reward for enduring Fosse's existential downer of a semi-autobiographical musical. Theatergoers wouldn't leave the theater humming the tunes; they'd be too busy speed-dialing their therapists.

Read more about these films at Dreams Are What Le Cinema is For...

What do you guys think? Are there any musicals on this list you actually would want to see on Broadway? Any additions to the list? Let me know in the comments!


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