Four stage productions based on films have shown up in the news recently- One an inevitability, two that are intriguing and one that has my brain hurting itself trying to wrap around the idea.
Let’s start with the inevitable.
A Broadway bound stage adaptation of John Waters’ 1990 movie musical Cry-Baby was a sure bet almost before the curtain came down on the first performance of the previous Waters film-to-Broadway adaptation, Hairspray. Adapting the film for the stage are Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan, the duo who won a Tony Award for doing the same job on Hairspray.
Sent in 1954 Baltimore, the film was a parody of 1950 juvenile delinquent films like Blackboard Jungle and the nostalgia-drenched Grease. The show throws out all of the tunes from Waters’ original film in favor of new music written by former Daily Show writer and producer David Javerbaum and rock band Fountains Of Wayne frontman Adam Schlesinger. Schlesinger is no stranger to crafting rock tunes in the style of different eras, having been nominated for an Academy Award for writing the title song to Tom Hank’s 1996 paean to the rock and roll music of the early 1960s, That Thing You Do.
Although the show is getting a late start in Broadway’s 2007-2008 season, it is still eligible for this year’s upcoming Tony Awards, pitting it against two other screen-to-stage adaptations- Xanadu and Young Frankenstein.
Oddly enough, Cry-Baby: The Musical is moving into the same theater recently vacated by the Tony-winning The Drowsy Chaperon, whose co-writer, Bob Martin, is the writer behind a new musical adaptation of the 1968 film The Night They Raided Minsky’s, which is set for a February 2009 premier at the Los Angeles Music Center’s Ahmanson Theater. (How’s that for a segue?)
The Ahmanson’s 2008-2009 schedule also features the debut of 9 To 5: The Musical, featuring new songs from Dolly Parton, and presumably her famous hit title song from the 1980 movie. Allison Janney is set to headline the cast, taking over Lily Tomlin’s role from the film as the leader of a trio of secretary’s who extract comic revenge on their overbearing and chauvinistic boss.
Our last entry in this roundup is the one that has me most perplexed- an operatic version of David Lynch’s surreal Lost Highway, currently being mounted in England and set to premier next month. Director Diane Paulus is mounting the production next month as a joint venture between the English National Opera and the Young Vic. In an effort to recreate Lynch’s narrative fracturing of the border between reality and fantasy, the production will employ both live and sampled music and several video screens suspended above the stage.