Friday, May 18, 2018

Introducing Legitimate Theater, A Column About Movie-Based Stage Musicals

In an effort to explore areas beyond the Oscars, i have decided to open myself up to the world of theater, in particular stage musicals. I will confess that I know very little about the big names in this world and have decided to choose an angle that I am more familiar with: movies. So, how exactly will I be talking about stage shows AND movies? Why, by exploring musicals adapted from films of course. Over the course of Legitimate Theater, I hope to better understand what makes great musical theater by understanding a film through song. It's going to be a bit of an odd journey, but if 2018 has taught us anything with all of the SpongeBobs, Frozens, and Mean Girlses, there's definitely a supply and demand for them. So please, join me in Legitimate Theater, which I hope will make sense of this very odd trend.

I will start with a brief apology. I had initially proposed this column a month ago under the name The Best of Both Worlds. While that was my initial running name, I decided to go with Legitimate Theater, a name inspired itself by an arbitrary yet iconic pop culture reference from The Simpsons. It refers to an episode where Homer Simpson sees a musical based off of the 1968 masterpiece Planet of the Apes. He calls it "Legitimate Theater," which feels like an appropriate name for something that needs compensation. Why would you want to adapt film to stage? What benefit could you possibly get from doing this?

I have been desiring a column dedicated to live theater, but I am a middle class writer who lives on the west coast. I have never been to Broadway. However, I have been to tons of movie theaters up and down the California coastline, exploring my interest in film. With that said, I think there's something interesting about comparing the two mediums, and specifically what they bring to each other. It's why Legitimate Theater is going to be about story telling through song. I will not be judging the shows, but more how essential the adaptation feels based on the lyrics, music, and overall pep. I don't exactly know how much of each element will be brought to the table, but this is a column I hope will make me understand and appreciate the craft of adapting.

My official start to the column will be next Wednesday. I plan to run the column every third Wednesday of the month (I apologize in this case for lateness). For the first entry, I felt it would only be appropriate to explore The Producers, which is one of the most iconic comedies of the 20th century and stage shows of the 21st century. It's also racked up plenty of Oscars and Tonys, making the comparisons a lot easier to compare. I will not be addressing the film adaptation of the musical, but I hope to explore why adapting Mel Gibson's spoof nature to stage ended up having a profound impact on Broadway. I will also be planning to run special bonus columns in the weeks leading up to the Tony Awards, specifically focusing on the Best Musical nominees Frozen and Mean Girls (possibly SpongeBob Squarepants, though that's more TV). That will be revealed in time.

For now, I hope that you are excited for this new endeavor that I have been planning for awhile now. With three adaptations up for Tonys' Best Musical, it feels like a perfect time to launch the category, which will hopefully be used to explore musicals from every facet and quality. Among those I hope to get around to are: Groundhog Day, Amelie, Waitress, Sunset Blvd., The Lion King, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and more. I don't have a set list, though I hope to have a better idea as time goes on. For now, let's just say that I love Legitimate Theater, and I hope to love it more through this column. See you next week, everybody!

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