With Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of Jersey Boys hitting theatres today and the adaptation of Into the Woods coming out at the end of the year, we’re taking a look at five other fantastic stage musicals that have been given the Hollywood treatment; and let me tell you, composing this list was not an easy feat. There are so many other great stage musicals that I would have loved to include. Alas, there can only be five, but the show must go on! So take a look at some of our favourite musical adaptations, and let us know some of your favourites in the comments below!
5. Mamma Mia!
Based on the music of ABBA, this hit opened on Broadway in October of 2001, and is still going strong today—making it the ninth longest running Broadway show in history. In July of 2008, the musical found its way onto film, and although it did very well at the box office, many critics had mixed reviews about these dancing queens. The biggest issue with the film, and I agree with it, is that some of the singing—okay, a lot of the singing, is really bad. Seriously Colin Firth, what are you doing? I’ve actually been fortunate enough to see the stage version on three different occasions, and while it is obvious that the stage version is better, the film still does the musical justice. It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s a feel-good watch; and really, what more could you want from a movie musical?
While the title song might suggest that “we’re not gonna pay,” people certainly did to see this Broadway production and its 2005 film adaptation. Rent opened on Broadway in 1996 and had a 12-year run, closing in 2008. The Broadway production received massive critical acclaim, and even took home the Tony Award for Best Musical. The 2005 film, which included the majority of the original Broadway cast (something I think movie musical adaptations should do more often), was a huge hit. This film really captured the essence of what Rent was about. When you watch it, you find yourself taken into the world of New York and these characters really resonate with you. **Spoiler Alert: Try and watch Angel’s funeral without crying. I dare you.
3. Annie (1982)
Based on the famous Harold Gray comic, Little Orphan Annie, the Broadway production of our favourite redhead opened in 1977 and ran for six years. Another Tony Award-winning musical, this hit has spanned many revivals and film adaptations—but I’m specifically looking at the 1982 film starring Aileen Quinn, not the 1999 Disney version. (Don’t get me started on it—it’s awful. Don’t watch it.) The 1982 version had an all-star cast: Carol Burnett, Albert Finney, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, etc. While it didn’t manage to turn much of a profit due to its high production costs, this movie is just a pile of awesome. The dance numbers are stunning, the acting is perfect, and Carol Burnett plays the best drunk I’ve ever seen. I promise, the sun will come out tomorrow if you see this movie!
Fun Fact: Another (updated) movie version of Annie is coming out later this year starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis!
2. My Fair Lady
Sigh, this musical, this movie, there are many words I could use to describe both of them, but the first that comes to mind is stunning. The Broadway version opened in 1956 and was immensely popular among both critics and audiences—and how could it not be? The lead role of Eliza Doolittle was played by Dame Julie Andrews, aka “The Queen of All That is Perfect in the World.” The 1964 film version starring Rex Harrison (who originated the role of Henry Higgins in the Broadway version) was very successful, winning eight Oscars. However, the movie was rather controversial as Audrey Hepburn was cast as Eliza instead of Julie Andrews—which caused quite an uproar considering the fact that Hepburn’s singing voice was dubbed with Marni Nixon’s. Now, while Hepburn does a fine job, karma does have a way of coming around, as Julie Andrews went on to star in Mary Poppins that same year and ended up winning the Oscar for Best Actress for the role. Suck it, Hollywood executives!
1. The Sound of Music
I would be more than happy to argue with anyone who says that this movie isn’t the best musical adaptation of all time. Whether you like it or not, this film is absolutely incredible in every way. The acting across the board is without flaw, it’s visually stunning, the singing is beautiful enough to make even the manliest of men weep, and it’s nearly impossible to get the music out of your head upon seeing it. Based on the 1959 Broadway musical from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, the film stars Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp who charms the hearts of Captain Georg von Trapp and his seven children. The film is the highest grossing movie musical ever made and is one of the highest grossing films worldwide. If you haven’t had the pleasure to feast your eyes on this cinematic masterpiece, please do so! But please, for all that is good and holy in this world, do not waste your time on the NBC live broadcast starring Carrie Underwood. There are no words to describe how awful it was. All my Julie Andrews bias aside, Carrie Underwood can’t act, and that, my friends, is just a fact.