(Selling a show is less easy than bein' green.)
So the Oscars have now come and gone and the biggest question that remains as all the glitter and then the dust settles is this: which of this year's top movies are going to become stage musicals and how fast can we get them here? I love original musicals as much as the rest of you, but we need to face the financial reality that in today's production landscape, lots of what gets produced in NYC needs to be a bankable commodity. Since we cannot fight the trend, let's at least get our best and brightest theatrical composers attached to the right projects. Many have already tried their hand at converting movie properties to stage shows with great success! ...and others maybe not so much. But just because one property didn't work, didn't mean that the next one won't be a hit. Let's see what this year's nominees offer us. We'll go through the list alphabetically:
AMOUR - While I didn't think this movie was a total downer, lots of people I know just found it incredibly sad. So when looking for a comparable musical that just filled me with sadness, the first one that jumps to mind is "A Catered Affair" so I'm sure that creative team with book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by John Bucchino could really bring the goods on this source material. The musical will be performed without intermission, so there is no easy way for the audience to escape the horrors of lovers held tighter and tighter in the grip of death! If they pass, we pursue Alan Menken, or Elton John and Tim Rice. In that order. But honestly, of all the movies here, I think this is our toughest sell, folks. Put on your thinking caps!
ARGO - A movie with Oscar-Winning Gold requires a composing with Tony-Winning... um, whatever the Tony is made out of. We need a team that really gets the movies-to-musicals process, and who's more up to the task than Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman? After Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can, I can already hear their version of "Argo Fuck Yourself!" in my head, and it's a showstopper, folks.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD - Okay, so for this a fantastical, emotional and powerful piece I'm not going to go with a tested Broadway composing team and instead go with some fresh new faces destined to make their mark on the scene. It makes sense given the youth and freshness of the movie's creative team. So I think Julia Meinwald and Gordon Leary (whose work on Pregancy Pact is so fresh and surprising and gorgeous) are certainly up to the task of magical realism. Annie might currently be on Broadway with its little girl anthems "Tomorrow" and -"Maybe" but I'm looking forward to Hushpuppy's stirring "I'm The Man!"
DJANGO UNCHAINED - Tarantino films have soundtracks that practically make them feel like musicals already, but if we were going to scrap all that and start anew, I know another collaboration between Lin-Manuel Miranda & Tom Kitt would make this project totally rad. Their score for Bring It On is engaging and fun, it really elevated the source material. Please oh please oh please, fellas? You KNOW you want to! We could even invite John Kander to come play in the sandbox this time. You know what I'm saying makes sense. It'd be crazy NOT to do it! Django Unchained could be turned into Django: Perfectly Harmonized!
LES MISERABLES - Well this one is already covered. We will see you back on the Great White Way in 2014! It will be totally new this time except will be exactly the same as before, but maybe we'll find 10 more minutes to cram "Suddenly" into the mix.
LIFE OF PI - Converting the book to a movie was really the hard part. Converting that movie into a stage musical should be a piece of cake! Since he already created a song I love about Monkeys in Speedboats, how far off could it be to write a score about a tiger in a lifeboat? Jeff Bowen - Go. To. Town. And bring along all your sexy [tos] friends for the journey too! ....However I also could be persuaded to hear a Stephen Schwartz score to Life of Pi, so maybe you boys just fight it out amongst yourselves. And this is the theater, so NO. HOLDS. BARRED!!
LINCOLN - Stephen Sondheim tackling the many speeches of Lincoln and his whole Gang of Rivals sounds like a wordsmith's dream come true. He already knows his Presidents from Assassins, so this thing will practically write itself. And you all know you want an 11 o'clock "Last Midnight"-esque number belted out by a grieving Mary Todd Lincoln. This one is a no-brainer. Start lining up the producers now, and I'll go book the Rodgers for 2016.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK - I'm tempted to give this assignment to Andrew Lloyd Webber, who would undoubtedly give me the happy ending song I desire where everyone sings, "Every cloud has a silver lining!" but if we want this shit done right, we're going to have to enlist David Yazbek, whose scores for both Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels hit so many right notes both emotionally and musically.
ZERO DARK THIRTY - Okay, maybe THIS is the one I want Andrew Lloyd Webber to write. I want him to take the "Dark" in Zero Dark Thirty very literally. Perhaps Bin Laden is the Phantom of the Opera inside Maya's mind? If you don't want to go high camp with this project, I'm willing to hear what Jason Robert Brown would do with the source material. Maybe Bin Laden is moving backward in time while Maya is moving forward? It would be two very different visions of the same source , but that's what makes the brainstorming process so fun!
Honorable Mention! PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER - Not really nominated for anything at this year's Oscars, Perks is still many kinds of an amazing film and I wouldn't mind Ryan Scott Oliver taking a crack at this. No reason this movie can't be sung on stage. No reason they all can't be sung on stage!
What do we think, Friend-O's? Can we make these deals happen?? Start the whispering campaihn at Sardi's.... now!