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When it comes down to it, who can really resist the news that Sylvester Stallone is turning Rocky into a stage musical? It’s such unexpected news, such wonderfully weird news, that I couldn’t help myself and started to wonder: What other movie classics would we happily see reincarnated as all-singing, all-dancing theater experiences?
Maybe everyone shouldn’t be too surprised that Rocky is going to make its stage debut in Germany next year. After all, movies have been turned into stage musicals for decades now, whether it’s Hairspray, Little Shop of Horrors or Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. Bearing that kind of pedigree in mind, here are some suggestions for the budding Broadway producers out there:
Both Batman and Spider-Man have already had their adventures hit the stage – In the latter’s case, literally and more than once, sadly – but there’s something about Daredevil that I think could make a genuinely enjoyable musical. Not only does he lack any visually outrageous powers that would break budgets and/or require an amazing amount of special effects to pull off effectively, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that the courtroom setting – Thanks to alter ego Matt Murdock’s lawyer career – could provide some interesting musical possibilities (The jury is a choir! Testimonies are songs! And so on). Yes, I know this has little to do with the terrible Ben Affleck movie, but if you really want a connection, just imagine ol’ Hornhead singing a song called “You’d expect this to be better than it is, we’re all so sorry to disappoint.”
If ever a musical could get away with having songs performed by other singers off-stage, it’s one where the main characters are robots that don’t even have mouths. And also, because they’re robots, everyone could be auto-tuned, and it could be explained away as “Just the way that robots sound when they’re singing!” I know, I know, it’s genius. Even more excitingly, consider the possibilities of a musical where every single dance move is a variation on The Robot! (Okay, if you want something a little more serious, what about the transformation sequences being performed by a mass of performers, a la some of Julie Taymor’s more ambitious The Lion King moves?). If nothing else, the grand operatic scale of a war so big that it goes from one planet to another has to be able to produce an impressive show, right? Points added if Stan Bush’s “The Touch” is used at some point.
I’ll admit, I am more than a little surprised that we’ve not seen this by now. After all, given all the variations on George Lucas’ space fantasy that we’ve already seen, and the fact that Star Wars has already delved into the musical genre, isn’t it almost a given that the world is ready for a full-on Star Wars musical by now? With John Williams’ memorable soundtrack already in place, any potential show already has the tunes, so all we really need to make it happen is someone to write appropriate song lyrics and maybe get some choreography going. If you’re unconvinced how awesome this idea clearly is, I want to suggest two things to you. Firstly, imagine lightsaber duels replaced by rap battles. Secondly, imagine the battle of Hoth where both snowspeeders and AT-AT walkers have been replaced by interpretive dancers. I think you understand now.
Firstly, I am not suggesting an entire movie of the underground rave sequence from The Matrix Reloaded, because no-one wants to sit and watch crowds of people wearing either fetish gear or theadbare sweaters dance around for hours (Note: This is, admittedly, my personal feelings on the matter, but I feel confident I’m not alone in this). Secondly, I have to admit that I would like to see a musical based around what used to be called “electronica” (The sole reason that I would not entirely scoff at the idea of a Tron musical, were one to be suggesting, and considering it’s Disney, I wouldn’t be surprised). Thirdly: Bullet-time dancing. Admittedly, it would require all manner of wirework and some exceptionally skilled performers, but just think of how wonderful that could be to see, if someone managed to get that right. Finally, compressing all three movies down to one stage show allows for a distillation of the story, losing all the bloat from the last two movies and a chance to fix some of the narrative problems that the original versions of the story had – or, at least, paper over them with songs. And isn’t that what musicals are all about?
Think about it: There’s already a music and dancing component to the story, and the (Spoiler? Maybe? Are we still in the spoiler timeframe for this movie?) more metaphorical transformative elements of the movie feel that they may fit in more with the musical format than the straight drama movie that people might have been expecting from the original. Perhaps I’ve gotten too into the idea of musicals in general, but if you brought in an appropriate songwriter (Bjork seems a little too obvious, admittedly but what about Camille? Or PJ Harvey?) and the right director, I genuinely think that this could be a show that people would want to see – and not for the same reasons that something like Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark drew such excited crowds.
Worryingly, while I started this post with my tongue somewhat in cheek, I ended it thinking that I would eagerly watch more than a couple of my own suggestions. But what movies have I ignored that would come to life on the stage, with songs that would make people hum along in the theater and stick in their heads for days afterwards? Use the comments section and let your inner Andrew Lloyd Webber loose, why don’t you?