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Musicals have always endured as a pillar of Hollywood cinema, but began to flourish from 1939 due to the advent of colour film and the possibility of all-singing all-dancing movies filmed in dazzling multicoloured resulted in an explosion of musicals in the 1940’s.
However, the bubble soon burst as audiences tired of musicals and the genre declined, with the exception of some darker, edgier musicals like Cabaret (1972) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). However in 2001, Baz Luhrmann successfully rebooted the genre with Moulin Rouge!, which not only boasted the return of old-fashioned song and dance numbers, but used Hollywood A-listers with previously untested musical talent.
Since then, the genre has gained new popularity, winning Oscars and encouraging many stars to try their hand at a little singing. Hollywood producers have plundered the world of West End and Broadway stage to find suitable musicals to adapt for the screen.
June has seen the release of Rock of Ages which will be soon followed up with the epic big-screen adaptation of Les Miserables. So what other shows does the stage have to offer, and how many of these are being eyed up as we speak for the next big musical extravaganza?
It’s been 10 years since Cats celebrated its 21st Birthday on the West End in 2002, a date which was also sadly the final performance of the show. Based on a book of poems by T.S. Eliot, Cats is yet another production by musical maestro Andrew Lloyd Webber, telling the tale of a group of cats and the various characters who live amongst them.
Although a made-for-TV version was released in 2008, the musical has never been considered for film production, despite containing a stunning array of songs and the potential for hugely frenetic dance sequences.
Unfortunately the show is one which would be difficult to transfer to screen, cherry-picking the quirky cats amongst the group in a series of episodic-style songs as opposed to a fully developed single story. However, news that a West End revival of the show is planned for 2013 could signal the way for the singing and dancing felines to make their way to Hollywood.
Starring? – With her curvaceous figure, dancing skills and previous musical experience, Beyonce would make a particularly bootylicious cat.
Despite being inspired by the extraordinary songs of Queen, critics universally hated We Will Rock You when it was first performed, panning it as a juvenile and unfunny piece of theatre. The audience however didn’t listen and the show recently celebrated its 10th anniversary on the West End, with rumours circulating for many years that Ben Elton is penning a sequel.
We Will Rock You offers plenty to potential producers, primarily the astonishing fact that despite the popularity of Freddie Mercury and Queen, no film has ever been made about them. Sacha Baron Cohen is currently pencilled in to play Freddie Mercury in a biopic of the star, but a film utilising the band’s music might well be more appealing to the legions of Queen fans.
There is no doubt however that We Will Rock You’s satirical tale of a utopian universe where music is banned might be difficult to reproduce on screen without looking like a strange hybrid of musical and sci-fi, but the popularity of both the show and music is undeniable.
Starring? – We Will Rock You does not include a Freddie Mercury character, but does need performers with a rock ‘n’ roll edge who can strum air guitars and wear fishnets and make it look good. Emma Stone looks like she has the potential to rock-chick up, although we can only guess if her vocal talents are sufficient.
Ever since the sad and premature death of Michael Jackson rumours of a film of his life have circulated. It is inevitable though that any biopic on Jackson’s life would be bound to pick upon the more controversial and unfortunate content, frustratingly overlooking his tremendous talent as a musician.
On the other hand Thriller-Live is a show that is completely entrenched in the music of the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson’s solo work, making it a hugely popular musical for audiences since it opened in 2009. Despite the show initially only being given a limited run, this has been extended numerous time due to the huge demand for tickets, some of which were of course sadly driven by Jackson’s death.
If the popularity of the show can be sustained, just maybe a producer will go down the route of a stunning musical rather than biopic, which many would agree would be a more fitting way to commemorate a true superstar.
Starring? – Thriller-Live requires 6 actors to play Jackson on stage, representing him at different times during his career. Whilst that might be an unattractive prospect for a filmmaker, it does highlight how astonishingly difficult it would be to play Jackson, whilst still trying to replicate his standard of singing and dancing.
Perhaps in this case Hollywood would have to look beyond the A-list actor world and take a chance on the unknown stage talent who already portray Jackson in the West End. A fantastic addition to any musical would be the skills of Britain’s Got Talent duo Signature, whose incredible Michael Jackson dance act propelled them to stardom.