Finding musical theatre penance for
all the times I’ve said “I hate”
By Rob Shapiro (musical theatre writer)
weekend, I was discussing the Les
Miserables musical movie with some friends, and one of them said “I haaated it.” And she really meant it! I really liked the movie, so we had plenty to
Now, there is no shortage of strong opinions – about Les Mis or musicals in general. And if you’re a passionate musical theatre fan like me, you’ve probably thought or said the following:
- I hate musical adaptation of movies!
- I hate movie musicals!
- I hate jukebox musicals!
- I hate when pop music stars get to write Broadway shows and I don’t!
- I hate (musical)!
I’ll admit it – I’ve thought all of these at one time or another. But recently I read a blog in which the writer ranked the “worst” musicals of the year, and it got me thinking. The thing I hate the most is when people hate musicals!
I hate musical adaptations of movies!
But wait, I love these musicals that were based on movies…
- A Little Night Music (1973) – Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical was adapted from Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of the Summer Night (1955). This is one of my favorite Sondheim scores – the rhymes, oh, the wonderful, wonderful rhymes and it’s all based on a movie!
- Little Shop of Horrors (1982) – That’s right, my favorite musical about human-eating-plants is based on a 1960 Roger Corman film.
- Once (2012) – I never saw the original film, but I thought that the Broadway production was a wonderful and moving musical.
But wait, I can’t ignore…
- Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – How could I hate “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Good Morning,” and of course Gene Kelly performance of the title song? I can’t hate you.
- Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Howard Ashman’s lyrics and Alan Menken’s music were so good that it was the first Disney musical ever to be presented on Broadway. Think about that. Despite decades of animated and live-action movie musicals like Snow White and Mary Poppins, no Disney musical graced the Broadway stage until 1994. Also, Beauty and the Beast was the first-ever animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture!
I hate jukebox musicals!
I found some jukebox musicals from the movies and Broadway that I really like:
- Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Again! Yep, “Make ‘Em Laugh,” “Good Morning,” and “Singin’ in the Rain” are all from different musicals. The only new song created for the film: “Moses Supposes” (music by Roger Edens and lyrics by Comden and Green).
- Moulin Rouge! (2001) – I’m a big fan of Baz Lurhmann’s Oscar-nominated film, which features music from “The Sound of Music” to Fatboy Slim. And like Singin’ in the Rain, Mounlin Rouge! Only has one original song.
Well, I would prefer that I get to write them, but here’s a few of shows I love that were written by authors outside of traditional musical theatre world: The Who’s Tommy, Green Day’s American Idiot, Spring Awakening and Billy Elliott.
I hate (musical)!
This one is hard – there are just some shows I don’t think I will like. I wish I could because I’m sure the authors want me to. So I’ve decided to find at least one thing that I like in each of these musicals whether it’s a line, a melody, a stage direction or a rhyme. That way I can’t ever fully say “I hate (musical)”.
What about you? How do you deal with musicals that didn’t work for you? Have you ever said "I hated" only realize later that you don't at all?
ROB SHAPIRO is a musical theatre writer and new cat owner. www. thatrobshapiro.com
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