Musicals Thread (Stage-to-Film)

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. Each week I will post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to. This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard/seen any good shows lately? Have any theatre news to share? Tell us about it!

Let’s talk about movies based on musicals! Some are very good, many are not. We’ve talked a little about the difficulty of filming musicals when we discussed the live TV musicals, but I want to focus on movies this week. Sometimes, these movies can be delightful. My favorite example of this genre is probably Oliver! This was one of the first musicals I really fell in love with, and the movie allowed me to experience the show in my living room. It isn’t perfect—I do wish they would have included “That’s Your Funeral” and I don’t totally understand the choice to dub Oliver’s voice with another singer—but it captures the spirit of the musical and actually makes the most of the fact that it’s a movie. I always say that I would love it if they just filmed stage musicals rather than messing with everything, but Oliver! shows that there are some benefits to transforming a stage musical into a movie. This is best seen in the big musical numbers like “Consider Yourself”. The whole city comes to life for this number, and it’s just so much fun! The other thing that makes this a successful movie is the casting. Jack Wild (Dodger), Shani Wallis (Nancy), and Ron Moody (Fagin) provide stellar performances that bring these characters to life. Dodger is one of my favorite fictional characters, and Jack Wild’s performance is perfection. Overall, Oliver! is a great example of how a musical can be made into a successful movie.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work.

I used to very enthusiastically see any movie based on a musical, and I was pretty forgiving of missteps in these movies (I can convince myself that Gerard Butler isn’t all bad—feel free to ask about that if you’re curious), but Hairspray made me very wary of this genre. I was so excited for this movie, and it was just…very upsetting. I don’t usually like to focus on negative things in my posts, but I just really don’t understand what John Travolta is doing in this movie at all. He’s not the only problem by any means, but he stands out in my memory has being particularly upsetting. This is an example of something that happens a lot with movies based on musicals: casting the wrong actor just because they have name recognition. This is probably the biggest problem with these movies. But I’ll reserve my rants for now and let you all share your thoughts.

But first, wash that memory from your mind with this glorious performance from Oliver!

So, what are your favorite/least favorite movies based on musicals? What do you like/hate about these movies?