I saw a musical based on a cult classic movie this past weekend unlike any other. I’ll mention said musical below. But it got me wondering just how many movies have been adapted into stage musicals, and I was surprised by how random some of them were. Yes, there are obvious adaptations like The Wedding Singer and Saturday Night Fever which were already heavily influenced by popular music, but that seems too easy. The following musicals were adapted for some reason, by some evil geniuses, some on Broadway, the others, very off-Broadway.
5 – The Evil Dead
I saw this musical this past weekend. It must be said that Evil Dead 2 was one of my first rated R movies so I’ve been a fan for a while. This traveling musical has also come around at the perfect time, just one week before the Evil Dead remake. Being such a fan of the cult classic trilogy, I could not resist seeing this play. It tells the story of Evil Dead and the sequel, which are essentially the same movie anyways. Evil Dead the Musical may be the only musical with a splatter section, much like Sea World has a splash zone.
The entire production was tongue-in-cheek and doesn’t even try appealing to anyone outside of its established fan base. The highlights were the songs, “Cabin in the Woods” and “What the F$@% was that?” The music is mostly forgettable, but just to give you an idea of the mood established by the songs, here are some lyrics from “Join Us.”
“You can speak our evil slang even grow some evil fangs,
you’ll score some evil tang if you join us!”
4 – Lord of the Rings
Yes, I know that Lord of the Rings was a book long before it was a movie, but it doesn’t take long to notice that everything about the musical was ripped straight from the movie. One advantage this musical had over the others on this list is that it was actually quite good, even winning several awards in 2008 (Probably the Tonys for Nerds). One disadvantage of this musical is that it was nearly the length of Return of the King. There had to be 2 intermissions.
Some lyrical highlights from the bromantic song between Frodo and Samwise from the song Now and For Always follow –
“Sing me a tale of the bravest of them all
Comrade and guide, at my side
Stouthearted Sam who wouldn’t let me fall
Holding my life in his hand
True to the end, no finer friend
Now and for always.”
3 – Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
This is the most well-known of any musical on the list. There are decades worth of material they could have used for Turn Off the Dark, but this musical closely resembles the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. The only problem is, it’s worse than Spider-Man 3. I think people would prefer 2 hours of Tobey Maguire’s emo phase over this clusterfrak. If you want proof of the insanity, just YouTube this play and you’ll hate it more than Batman and Robin and Spider-Man 3 combined. This play got a lot of bad press for the amount of injuries happening in rehearsals, but it’s the music (written largely by Bono & The Edge) that puts the nail in the coffin.
Here is a snippet of the incomprehensible lyrics from the song DIY World –
Influence there’s so many ways
The human race can take a hint
Wip on a zinc and you can swim
If you don’t mind a little change of skin
designer jeans are a better fit”
2 – Carrie
If you’re going to adapt one Stephen King novel for the stage, make it The Shining. I can just image Jack singing “All Work and No Play” with a chorus of weird dog-bears (that make me uncomfortable) in the background. For some reason, Carrie was adapted in the late 80’s. It received terrible reviews, but got sold out crowds. It was closed quickly until it had a limited run in ’99 and later in 2012. It’s the show that just won’t die. Many critics have given it the title of worst Broadway bomb ever. Who wouldn’t want to hear Carrie’s mother sing about dirty pillows and the bloody curse of Eve. And yes, that really happens in the musical.
The musical starts off with a snappy high school number called “In.”
I’d crawl out of my skin
And so would you,
cause Life just doesn’t begin
Until you’re in!”
1 – The Fly
This is where it gets weird. Remember The Fly with Jeff Goldblum, where he invents a transporting machine and he turns into a man-fly and spits on people to break them down and eat them? I’ve tried forgetting and it’s impossible. Well, the film’s wacky director, David Cronenberg, wrote and directed this opera. Yes, opera. And the composer wasn’t a hack either. It was composed by Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings, The Aviator). To top it off, the play is conducted by one of the 3 tenors, Placido Domingo.
I’m cool with weird films being adapted into musicals. It makes me excited to actually see a play. But an opera for a cult gross-out 80’s movie? Okay, challenge accepted.