With the relationship between Broadway and Hollywood being one of perpetual give and take, the current renaissance of exciting shows on Broadway may end up interesting Hollywood. For quite a while, it’s been the other way around where even A-list actors have hit the stage to find more fulfilling work, despite less pay. While some of the Broadway musicals going as of this writing may already be re-do’s of prior films and other media works, some of them are still original enough where they could make interesting new films. And with the struggle to bring back musicals to the big screen, these have compelling enough plots that can stand on their own next to the singing.
One of the few original stories on Broadway in a long time, some have already blindly accused it as being similar to the Gwyneth Paltrow film “Sliders.” While the characters and plot situations are very different in “If/Then”, it’s actually much more thoughtful in many ways thanks to songs that probe the very nature of taking the right path when at the fork in the road. While “Sliders” was more of a sociological sci-fi film, “If/Then” places the issue of making decisions firmly in reality with relatable songs.
Idina Menzel deserves to be a movie star as well as Broadway star thanks to her talent. While this may give comparisons to creating a new Barbara Streisand, it may help give a new push to Streisand to perhaps produce and direct another movie musical that she hasn’t done in 30 years.
Sutton Foster is another Broadway star with far too many talents not to carve a movie career. While she’s done a few movie and TV roles, a big-screen adaptation of her starring role in “Violet” would prove how Broadway has once again carved a renewed path into more thoughtful fare tapping deep into human psychology. Even if films have examined the 1960s far too often, this one has a different take because all the events of the era are only wallpaper next to the psychological depths of the Violet character.
With a story that’s essentially a bus journey, it could make for a compelling adaptation if cut to a reasonable film length. As with “Mad Men”, it also examines lost souls trying to find meaning during a time (1964) when the entire country was collectively lost. It also would be another needed cinematic take on mental illness and how the physical scars on Violet affects her frame of mind.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
This Tony award nominated musical has the feel of being original, even if it’s an adaptation of the movie “Kind Hearts and Coronets” that in turn was based on a novel called “Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal.” It seems most audiences have forgotten about the novel. However, the 1949 film “Kind Hearts and Coronets” has become a cult classic for years. Sir Alec Guinness was able to play eight different roles in the film, and it really hasn’t been matched other than recently by Tatiana Maslany in BBC America’s “Orphan Black.”
In the “Gentleman’s Guide” Broadway musical adaptation, it’s Jefferson Mays playing all eight parts of the heirs who stand in the way of Monty Navarro inheriting a fortune. It’s a true acting showcase and taps into the new and evolving appeal in one actor portraying more than one character. The movies need more of that beyond the fiasco of “Cloud Atlas” and in something that’s readily accessible.
Jefferson Mays has done a number of films, though he wouldn’t be top box office potential. Nevertheless, a movie musical adaptation would be very entertaining if someone produced it independently and built on the tour de force idea of one actor portraying all the leading roles.
“Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”
Biopics might be on a bit of a low streak right now in movies, though “Jersey Boys” will soon bring the new movie genre of real stories set to music. Some might be skeptical that Clint Eastwood’s take on “Jersey Boys” will translate well to the big screen later this year. If it does, it would give more incentive to take the story of Carole King and bring it to the movies. “Beautiful” is a happy tale of a creatively fulfilling songwriting life that would bring an interesting contrast to the darker corners of “Jersey Boys.” It’s also a chance to bring a sing-along quality to musicals again that we haven’t seen for decades.
Considering King wrote songs far too many of the public don’t know she wrote, it could give a new sense of life to movie biopics that have become dreary, dramatic affairs in recent years.