Broadway's upcoming film-to-stage adaptations

By Melissa Rose Bernardo
Updated May 25, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Hollywood-Broadway relationship didn’t begin with The Full Monty and The Producers, and it won’t end there, either. ”It’s always been true that people ransack hit movies for the Broadway stage,” says former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich, citing shows from 42nd Street and La Cage aux Folles to Saturday Night Fever and Footloose. (And let’s not forget Breakfast at Tiffany‘s or Carrie.) Still, lately it seems like everyone’s looking to Hollywood for the next big Broadway thing. ”I got approached by three people about three musicals — all based on movies,” says David Kirshenbaum, who scored next season’s Summer of ’42 and hopes to tackle the Jeff Bridges plane-crash drama Fearless. Below, a slew of projects doing the movie-to-stage-musical shuffle.

Book ’em Its success isn’t guaranteed, but Sweet Smell of Success has the benefit of classy collaborators (composer Marvin Hamlisch, lyricist Craig Carnelia, director Nicholas Hytner), top talent (John Lithgow, up-and-comer Brian d’Arcy James), and — perhaps most importantly — a name, thanks to the classic 1957 melodrama that starred Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Success and Summer of ’42 both aim for winter bows.

Broadway Maybes John Patrick Shanley is helping morph his Oscar-winning Moonstruck script into a musical. The producers who brought you Footloose have optioned Dirty Dancing. Blake Edwards, who brought his Victor/Victoria to Broadway, is plotting The Pink Panther. Also in the works, song-and-dance treatments of the likely and the very unlikely: Mask, Marty, The Night They Raided Minsky’s, Flashdance, Jailhouse Rock, Bullets Over Broadway, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, That Thing You Do!, and — hold your horses — Urban Cowboy. And if it worked for Mel Brooks, why not for John Waters? His 1988 comedy Hairspray is Broadway-bound, thanks in part to composer Marc Shaiman (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut). ”John cried at our first read-through,” says Shaiman. ”That was the best feeling.”

Disney’s World With Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King well into their runs, it’s no wonder the Mouse House is combing its film catalog: The Hunchback of Notre Dame recently played Berlin; Lion queen Julie Taymor is planning Pinocchio; and Swan Lake mastermind Matthew Bourne is developing The Little Mermaid. ”I don’t think we focus on ‘Let’s put it on a Broadway stage,”’ notes Peter Schneider, copresident of Disney Theatrical Productions and chair of Walt Disney Studios. ”We look for the fundamental artistic ideas.”

London Calling Now home to The Witches of Eastwick, the West End will soon host Peggy Sue Got Married and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Bourne is also eyeing Edward Scissorhands.

The Caped Crusade Warner Bros. is prepping Batman, and Jim Steinman (vet of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell) swears it’s not campy. ”It’s loosely based on the Tim Burton movies,” says the composer, who’s also readying his Dance of the Vampires (from a Roman Polanski horror parody). ”There’s a thrilling 20-minute opening spectacle of Gotham City. It’s like Guys and Dolls on mescaline. In a good way.”

Hairspray (Stage - 2002)

  • Stage
  • Jack O'Brien