Posted on 24 March 2010 by Rich Drees
Throw out your hands! Stick out your tush!
Hands on your hips! Give them a push!
Not content with having turned two of his films in to Broadway shows, comedy legend Mel Brooks is preparing a third, this time using his classic 1974 Western spoof Blazing Saddles as the basis. Reportedly he has already penned two songs for the proposed show and is working on a third.
If you have somehow managed to get through life this long without seeing Blazing Saddles, get yourself to a video store, added it to your Netflix queue or just buy it from Amazon immediately. The film spoofs classic Hollywood westerns while not-so-subtly attacking racism as well. It is one of the funniest, silliest, smartest and sly subversive films made.
Brooks stated that he hopes to have the project completely written by next year. As of now, there are no other creative personnel attached, so the prospect of it hitting the boards is a bit of a ways off.
Posted on 02 March 2010 by Rich Drees
Perhaps inspired by the success that fellow Python castmate Eric Idle has had with his Broadway show Spamalot, John Cleese has turned his attentions to the Great White Way as well, and is in the process of adapting his hit comic caper film A Fish Called Wanda into a stage musical.
For the better part of the past year, Cleese and his daughter Camilla have been working on the script adapting the film, which Cleese co-wrote, and have reached the point where they are beginning to work with a song writer, comic Bill Bailey.
In a statement to the British comedy site Chortle, Cleese said-
It appears that my daughter, Camilla, is doing her best to outpace her dear old dad at every turn. We’ve just completed the book for the musical of A Fish Called Wanda and I’m pleased that Camilla hasn’t completely stolen all of my dignity in writing so brilliantly. She’s left me a few scraps to hang onto to keep me warm at night. Soon, we’ll start to work on the songs for the show with Bill Bailey, who, among his many achievements, is an honourary member of the Society of Crematorium Organists. This musical is destined to be a hit amongst funeral directors.
Bailey is probably best known to fans of British comedy for his supporting role in the Simon Pegg-Jessica Stevenson series Spaced and starring opposite Dylan Moran on Blacks Books. He also had a small role in Pegg’s comedy Hot Fuzz. Bailey’s stage act often features music, with the comic playing many musical instruments.
Cleese is hoping to eventually open the show for a tryout in San Diego before moving it to Broadway and London’s West End.
Having seen Spamalot on Broadway twice, I am hoping that Cleese and Bailey will be able to capture lightening in a bottle the way that Idle managed. It will be tough, as I have feeling that new Broadway shows have a failure rate second only to the restaurant industry. Also, Spamalot pulls from all of Python’s oeuvre, not just its inspiration Monty Python And The Holy Grail. A Fish Called Wanda musical will very probably be just confined to the film itself. But even with that structure there are still plenty of elements that could make an entertaining show. Can you just imagine a chorus line of John Cleese look-a-likes doing a dance number with nothing on but socks and a strategically placed framed photograph?
Posted on 12 March 2009 by Rich Drees
Now here’s a high school musical I’m interested in.
Heathers, the 1988 dark comedy about high school social clicks, is being transformed into a stage bound musical by Andy Fickman. Previously, Fickman directed the stage production of Reefer Madness, based on the 1936 campy, cautionary film, before moving on to helm the upcoming Race To Witch Mountain film. Fickman is working on the project with his Reefer partner Kevin Murphy (not the MST3K Kevin Murphy), who is writing the lyrics and book for the new project, and composer Larry O’Keefe.
Evidently, the three have been quietly working on the project for a while and just held some table readings of the script earlier this week, with Kristen Bell playing the role of Veronica, originated by Winona Ryder in the film. Christian Campbell stepped into original film star Christian Slater’s role of J. D., while reading the parts of the terrible titular trio of girls were Corri English, lead singer of BrokeDown Cadillac, Jenna Leigh Green and Christine Lakin. Participation in the table read is no guarantee though that these particular actors will be the ones who appear on stage when the production finally opens.
Fickman is hoping to have the show open regionally next year, followed by a Broadway run. If it proves popular, a film adaptation of the musical would be considered.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fickman has talked with Heathers original screenwriter Daniel Waters, who has given his blessing to the show.
“‘I love my dead gay son,’” Fickman states in the Reporter story. “If you can get that into a song, then that is just perfect.”
Personally, I’m holding out for the “F**k Me Slowly With A Chainsaw Interpretive Ballet.”
Posted on 27 October 2008 by Rich Drees
Another film is looking to make its way to the boards of Broadway and its producers are hoping you’ll have the time of your life at the show.
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story Onstage, based on the popular 1987 romance, is rumored to be in preparations to take over the Neil Simon Theater for a run next fall. Ironically, the venue is currently occupied by another stage adaptation of a film, Hairspray.
Although there has been no formal announcement, Variety reports that a Broadway run for the show seems to be inevitability following successful runs in Chicago, Hamburg, London and Toronto. The current Chicago production features Amanda Leigh Cobb and Josef Brown in the Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze roles.
Dirty Dancing’s original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein has also penned the book for the stage show, so presumably there haven’t been too many changes to the story.
I was never much of a fan of the film, I’ll have to admit. I found the film more melodrama than engaging drama. I was also irked by the use of a the obviously modern sounding “The Time Of My Life” in the film’s finale after all the perfect 1960s period music that had been used in every other scene up to that point. It was a choice that broke what ever connection I had left with the picture. A quick look at the songlist on the show’s website shows that it is still in the show. I’m sure that will please Dirty Dancing’s fans.
Posted on 23 October 2008 by Rich Drees
If The Producers didn’t fill your need for on-stage singing and dancing Nazis, then prepare yourself for an upcoming sci-fi musical comedy stage adaptation of the 1963 camp film They Saved Hitler’s Brain.
The upcoming show is being produced by Mark Altman and Chris Wyatt. Jon and Al Kaplan, who wrote the Off-Broadway spoofs Silence! Silence Of The Lambs: The Musical and 24: Season 2: The Musical will be writing the show’s book and songs.
The announcement in Variety doesn’t state where the show will debut, but given the Kaplan’s past stage works, it feels safe to say that Hitler’s Brain will be an Off-Broadway production.
Wyatt is perhaps best known as the producer of the 2004 comedy Napoleon Dynamite. Altman is no stranger to geek and genre projects. The former editor of the late, lamented Sci-Fi Universe Magazine has produced the films Free Enterprise, D.O.A.: Dead On Arrival and House Of The Dead. He is also currently developing a remake of the 1983 teen comedy My Tutor.
They Saved Hitler’s Brain was originally released to theaters under the title Madmen Of Mandoras and told the story of a scientist and his daughter who are kidnapped to an island in the Caribbean where Nazi scientists have Hitler’s head preserved in a jar in the hopes of launching a Fourth Reich. Because if you’re going to launch a bid for world domination, why not do it from the comfort of a tropical island? The film didn’t acquire its more lurid title until it started appearing on television in the 1970s.
While this could turn out to be a campy good time, I have to wonder how active the show’s titular character will be. With just his head existing in a glass jar through the entire story, I don’t think Hitler will be participating in too many dance numbers…
Posted on 08 September 2008 by Rich Drees
If the news that director Sam Raimi is developing a fourth installment in his Evil Dead horror/comedy series isn’t enough to excite you, how about the idea that the stage version of the franchise, Evil Dead: The Musical, may be heading to the big screen as well? And in move to replicate the stage show’s infamous “Splatter Zone,” the film may be coming at you in 3D!
What else can I say, but “Groovy!”
Producer Don Carmody, who co-produced the six-time Oscar winner musical-to-film adaptation Chicago, is currently in negotiations to with Raimi to bring the show to the big screen with the production’s original director Christopher Bond and choreographer Hinton Battle as co-directors.
Evil Dead: The Musical premiered in Toronto in 2004 at the Just For Laughs festival and had a five month run off-Broadway. The show has been successfully remounted in Toronto as well as has gone up in various other cities around the world, including Korea. Replicating the movies’ famous excessive use of fake blood, the show splashes gallons of the fake red stuff around the stage and into the first few rows of the audience, aka “The Splatter Zone.”
As a fan of the Evil Dead films, I managed to see the musical twice during its New York run – opening night of previews and the night before it closed – sitting in the Splatter Zone both times. The show is a blast and if it had run longer, I would have gone again. According to reports, Carmody states that he is looking to use much of the show’s original cast as possible, although it doesn’t state if that would be the Toronto or off-Broadway cast. Either way, that would still put Ryan Ward in the role of Ash, which is a very good thing. Hopefully they’ll bring back Jenna Coker from the New York cast as Ash’s sister Cheryl.
Via Screen Daily.
Posted on 20 June 2008 by William Gatevackes
The road between movies and Broadway used to be a one way street, running from the Great White Way directly to the Silver Screen.
But the success of musical theater adaptations movies such as Beauty and the Beast, Hairspray and The Producers has increased the flow of traffic in both directions. Now, The Weinstein Company is pulling on that highway with musicals based on some of their film catalog.
Variety is reporting that The Weinstein Company, who were longtime co-producers and investors on Broadway shows (including film to stage veterans The Producers and Young Frankenstein), will be taking the lead producer role on a number of film projects they will be adapting for the stage.
First up is a musical based on Finding Neverland, the 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp. They are eyeing a 2010 release for the stage production.
Another project in the pipeline is a Broadway adaptation of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, with Roger Waters set to lend a hand in bringing his band’s cult album to Broadway life.
Other films mentioned as Broadway fodder in the article are Shakespeare in Love, Chocolat, Cinema Paradiso, and Shall We Dance.
This is a risky proposition for the Weinsteins. Because for every Lion King there is a Tarzan, for every Hairspray there is a Cry-Baby, and for every The Producers there is a Young Frankenstein.
Posted on 17 June 2008 by Rich Drees
John Cleese is working on a musical version of his classic comedy A Fish Called Wanda, according to an interview published over the weekend in Britain’s The Daily Telegraph.
Spurned on by the success of Spamalot, for which he waived his right for royalties assuming that the musical adaptation of Monty Python And The Holy Grail wouldn’t be successful, Cleese is collaborating with his daughter Camilla to bring the 1988 comedy to the stage.
We’ve knocked the story into shape. We’re going to try a few lyrics and if it turns out we are no good – which is what I expect – we’ll get a new lyricist in. Right now we’re working on the story and trying to figure out where the songs should go. It’s very early days, though.
Hopefully, Cleese and Cleese will be able to turn out a script that will actually make it to the boards. There’s plenty of farcical material in A Fish Called Wanda that should play well live. And what kind of song do you think Ken the Stutterer, played by Cleese’s Monty Python castmare Michael Palin, would get?
Posted on 29 May 2008 by Rich Drees
OK, I’ll admit that this is only movie based is the loosest possible terms, but I’m running with it anyway.
One of the best live theater experiences I’ve had in the past several years was seeing Evil Dead: The Musical twice during its 2006-2007 off-Broadway run at the New World Stages. Taking the best of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy and tossing it into a blender with some great tunes, the musical is a frothy milkshake of fun that leaves the stage and those in the first two rows covered in fake blood. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the promo video for the currently running production in Toronto over on the show’s website. Since its premier run in 2004 at the Toronto Just For Laughs Festival, the show has gained legions of fans and has even had a sell out run in Korea!
The folks behind the current Toronto production certainly seem to be having fun. Not only has the show had its run extended into June, but they have recently put out a series of posters spoofing recent, well known Broadway show advertisements.
Via SlashFilm via Gawker via AdWeek.
Posted on 21 May 2008 by Rich Drees
A musical based on the life of martial artist film star Bruce Lee is being readied for a future Broadway debut. Bruce Lee: Journey To The West is being targeted for a 2010 or 2011 premier by its producer Elephant Eye Theatrical.
Bartlett Sher, who currently has a revival of South Pacific running at the Lincoln Center Theatre, will be directing. The show’s book will be by m. Butterfly playwright David Henry Hwang with a score by The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels composer David Yazbeck. No cast has been chosen yet.
According to BroadwayWorld-
Bruce Lee: Journey To The West tells of the martial arts legend’s difficult road to success, as figures from Chinese mythology follow his quest and The Monkey King, a beloved warrior god, becomes his heavenly ally. In a show fusing sources as diverse as martial arts, Chinese Opera, modern dance, and pop music, Bruce struggles to master his skills, purify his spirit and forge a link to unite East and West.
It definitely sounds interesting, and the theme of forging a “link to unite East and West” almost sounds like a reversal of The King And I. It should be interesting to see how they cover his film work. Perhaps in an interpretive ballet sequence? If so, I can’t wait to see their version of Lee’s Return Of The Dragon co-star Chuck Norris jete-ing across the stage.