“Original” Musicals


Is SHREK drek because of its source material?

As musicals based on movies become more and more frequently produced, discussions on musical theatre forums around the Internet regarding the lack of “original” Musicals” seem to become more and more prominent. Most people seem to forget, however, that truly “original” musicals are rare and that most are based on plays, novels, poetry or other source material. The trend to adapt musicals from film is simply the current trend in terms of adaptation. The unfortunate reality is that many movie-turned-musicals are chosen because of a kind of “brand awareness” created by the original film: the thinking, one supposes, is that if a film has a huge number of fans, then the musical adaptation might sell some tickets based on the film’s reputation. As such, my opinion on the matter is that it is not the source material itself that is the problem here: if that were so, then there would be no musicals based on films that have any value at all. The success of these adaptations lies where it always has done when adapatations are concerned: on the treatment of the source material and the intent behind the adaptation on the part of the creative team behind the show.

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1 Response to “Original” Musicals

  1. Beagle On Stage says:

    To me, the measure of a show’s originality is not whether or not it’s drawn from source material, but how it’s executed. None of Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, Kiss Me Kate, Fiddler on the Roof, Brigadoon, Godspell or The King and I are “original” per se, but they are all innovative and make an impact because of the way they are crafted as pieces of theatre. Then you have In the Heights, Next to Normal and their similar cousins. The stories and songs may be brand new to anyone, but they aren’t carried out anywhere near as well and will ultimately be forgotten long before anything on the first list. I don’t care if it’s based on an existing story. I do care if it’s a musical for the moment or a masterpiece that will earn its keep in the long run.

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