From Screen to Stage - An In-Depth Look at Broadway's Latest Adaptations

By: Apr. 01, 2017
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Throughout the history of American theater, Broadway has seen its fair share of stage adaptations of noteworthy films. While some modern productions adeptly made the transfer from the big screen, (KINKY BOOTS, ONCE and NEWSIES), others did not quite achieve the same level of success (GHOST, BIG, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER).

This Broadway season once again features a new crop of musicals that are based on some of filmdom's most beloved classics. Whether they will earn rave reviews from critics and audiences alike remains to be seen, but today BWW takes an in-depth look at the latest screen-to-stage offerings!

AMELIE began previews at Broadway's Walter Kerr theater on March 9th, with an official opening on April 3rd. Written by Dan Messe (music), Nathan Tyson (lyrics) and Craig Lucas (book), and directed by Pam Mackinnon, the show stars Tony nominee and HAMILTON alum Phillipa Soo and NEXT TO NORMAL'S Adam Chanler-Beret.

AMELIE is based on the 2001 award-winning romantic comedy directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and tells the story of a shy waitress, played by Audrey Tautou, who decides to change the lives of those around her for the better, while struggling with her own isolation. The film received critical acclaim and was a major box office success, winning Best Film at the European Film Awards; four César Awards (including Best Film and Best Director), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Original Screenplay), and was nominated for five Academy Awards. The stage adaptation premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California in September 2015.

Watch the official trailer from the 2001 film below:

Watch highlights of Phillipa Soo and more in the new Broadway adaptation:

GROUNDHOG DAY began previews on March 16th at Broadway's August Wilson theater, with an opening night set for April 17th. Featuring music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and a book by Danny Rubin, the show is directed by Matthew Warchus. Andy Karl takes on the role of Phil Connors, a disgruntled big-city weatherman mysteriously stuck in small-town America reliving the same day over and over and over again. But when he gets to know associate TV producer Rita (Barrett Doss), he discovers that a day of second, third and fourth chances just might bring him the promise of a lifetime. It's a classic boy meets girl...boy meets girl...boy meets girl story.

Bill Murray took on the lead role in the 1993 fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, and also starring Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. The movie was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, based on a story by Rubin. The film is now considered one of the top comedy films ever by critics and film historians, and in 2006, was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The stage musical version, starring Karl, premiered in London in 2016.

Speaking with BWW in November of last year, Karl said of the new stage adaptation, "with the musical, you take what's amazing about it [the film], you keep the core central nerve of the characters and then you make it even better because there's more freedom in a musical because the characters are bursting into song. So there's so much you can say, there are so many more places you can go, and I think that's what makes a successful transfer." He went on to add, "And with GROUNDHOG DAY, Danny Rubin actually wrote the book to the musical, he's one of the co-writers of the movie, so when you've got the people that actually were involved originally, then it's kind of hard to screw it up."

Watch the official trailer for the 1993 film below:

Check out a sneak peek of the show below:

Click here for first look!

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY began previews at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on March 28th, with an official opening set for April 23rd. The musical is a new adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic 1964 novel, featuring a book by David Greig, an original score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and including additional songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley from the 1971 Warner Bros. motion picture.

Christian Borle takes on the role of Willy Wonka himself in the musical fantasy which tells the story of Charlie Bucket, one of five lucky Golden Ticket winners who get the chance of a lifetime to visit Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, but soon find out that not all is as magical as it appears.

A film version of the story, titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, hit theaters in 1971. Directed by Mel Stuart, the film starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, and Wilder was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Both lost the prize that year to "Fiddler on the Roof."

Tim Burton took on the classic tale in 2005 in the movie CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY written by John August. The film starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket. A West End production of the new musical adaptation opened in June, 2013.

Below, watch Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka singing "Pure Imagination," written by British composers Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley specifically for the movie:

Watch a teaser for the upcoming Broadway production:

ANASTASIA began previews at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre on March 23rd, with an official opening set for April 24th. Darko Tresnjak directs the musical, featuring music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and a book by Terrence McNally. The cast includes Christy Altomare, Derek Klana, Ramin Karimloo, Mary Beth Peil, John Bolton, and Caroline O'Connor.

The musical is inspired by the 1997 animated musical film, directed by former Disney animation directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman and featuring the voices of Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Hank Azaria, Christopher Lloyd and Angela Lansbury. The film was an adaptation of the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, and tells the tale of an eighteen-year-old amnesiac orphan named Anya who, in hopes of finding some trace of her family, sides with con men who wish to take advantage of her likeness to the Grand Duchess. A previous film version, written by Guy Bolton and Arthur Laurents and based on the 1955 play by Marcelle Maurette, appeared in theaters in 1956. The 1997 film was considered a box office success, picking up Oscar nominations for several awards, including Best Original Song ("Journey to the Past") and Best Original Musical or Comedy Score.

The musical adaptation had its world premiere at Hartford Stage in May, 2016.

Watch the official trailer for the 1997 animated film below:

Below, watch ANASTASIA star Christy Altomare in a live performance of "Journey to the Past" from the new Broadway musical

In February, BWW met the company of the show and got a first look at "In My Dreams", "My Petersburg," "Still," and "We'll Go From There." Check out the video:

Click here to watch!

Which screen to stage adaptation of the season are you most excited about?