For decades, it was musicals and plays from Broadway making the trek to the silver screen. Now, with finances being the way they are on the Great White Way, theatrical producers are turning more and more to the world of film to adapt for their next stage production. Although, my knee-jerk reaction to the latest transder is that I can’t see anyway that it will ever work.
The Hollywood Reporter is telling us that Universal Pictures Stage Productions is adapting the 1978 comedy Animal House for the Broadway stage as a muscial. Yes, as a musical.
The adaptation has some talent behind it. The musical with be directed and choreographed by Casey Nicolaw, who was nominated for a Tony Award in both capacities for his work on The Book of Mormon (he won the directing award). Book will be from Michael Minick, known most for the well-received off-Broadway production, Sex Lives of Our Parents. The Barenaked Ladies are providing the score, and, one assumes, songs for the production, thus completing the lifeline of an pop alternative rock band from the 1990 (start indie, build a fan following, get signed by a major label, put out a couple albums before you breakthrough, put out a couple more albums that are popular, dip in popularity, get dropped by label, go back to indie labels, lose a founding member and, now, apparently, provide the score for a Broadway musical).
The band did score Shakespeare’s As You Like It for the Stratford Festival of Canada in 2005, but that was when Steven Page was still in the group and he took a major role in the scoring.
The policy of turning films into Broadway musicals, whether they fit or not, has been a mock-worthy pursuit since the disastrous Carrie musical in the 1980s, but this project seems to be having fun pokes at it from the get-go. This is what screenwriter Mark Evanier had to say about the adaptation:
And I can already imagine the promotions: Half-price tix on Toga Night if you come dressed in a bedsheet. Or they’ll do it like a Gallagher concert and the first three rows will be wearing trash bags to protect their clothes during the Food Fight.
Evanier might be jesting in good humor, but he does point out certain limitations in bringing Animal House to the stage. The comedy might not seem like a sweeping epic, but, from a stage perspective, that’s essentially what it is. Just off the top of my head I can think of at least six different locations where pivotal scenes take place (Outside Delta House, inside Delta House, Dean Wormer’s office, the school cafeteria, the road house where they see Otis Day and the Knights, and the main street) that will have to be presented on stage. Not to mention the finale, one of the most important parts of the film, that is one big orgy of chaos and destruction involving marching bands, parade floats and collapsing bandstands. That would be near impossible to present on stage anywhere close to the way it appears on screen, let alone in such a way that it could be reset for a performance every night and two on Wednesays and weekends.
Perhaps I am just being overly negative. The musical is still in the development stage and who know when, or if, it will hit the stage. Maybe they will figure out a way to make it all work ou