Are Screen to Stage Adaptions Damning New Stories?

Happy November 1st!
I genuinely cannot believe we’re actually in November. Where has this year gone?
I swear we were only just beginning the count down to Halloween and now the shops are dusting of those “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” CDs.
Before we begin focusing on Christmas, did you do anything to celebrate Halloween? Personally I just spent the day listening to the Broadway Beetlejuice album in awe, but it’s got me thinking.

Have you noticed how many of our “new shows” began their lives on the big screens as films?

I first started thinking about this when it was announced that Moulin Rouge would be transferring to London’s Piccadilly Theatre in 2021. As if this news wasn’t exciting enough, it reminded me that next year Pretty Woman would be opening in the same theatre. I then remembered that the last show I saw at the Piccadilly Theatre was the stage adaptation of Baz Lurham’s Strictly Ballroom.
Needless to say I think we’re beginning to see a theme here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been lucky enough to see a number of these shows and have nothing but respect and love for them all, but over the past few years Broadway and the West End have welcomed a number of screen to stage adaptation such as Amelie, Anastasia, Beetlejuice, Big, Frozen, Heathers, Mary Poppins, Mean Girls, Moulin Rouge, Mrs Doubtfire, Pretty Woman and the Prince of Egypt. This list may seem extensive, but I’m sure there are many which I’m missing.

In all honesty I’ve been thinking about this article for weeks, and I’ve been desperately trying to think of a list of shows with an original story and original characters, but I’m struggling. The only ones which jump out at me are Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Come From Away, Six, Dear Evan Hansen and Hades Town. All of which are incredible in their own right and are simply adored by audiences across the globe.

Most of the shows I’ve mentioned above have gone on to have global success, but my concern is how small the list is in comparison.

The thing is I do get it. All shows need an inspiration and with the ever increasing ticket prices, new shows have to be able to hold their own and have to be able to draw in an audience. What better way to attract an audience than by promoting an already well known name?

Like I said, we know how expensive tickets are. For those who may find visiting the theatre a luxury rather than a hobby, chances are they’re going to want to invest their money in something they’re fairly confident they’ll enjoy.
We’re in a catch 22 situation. The rent of a theatre will generally be the same no matter what the production and no matter how full the auditorium.
New shows with original stories need to match the prices of their bigger competitors to basically pay their bills, but the high prices deter audiences.
When a big production like Frozen charges £125 for a top price seat, they’ll easily fill their auditorium and make a profit at the end of the day. When a smaller show sells a seat in a half empty auditorium for the same price, they’ll just about break even.
Sure, you could argue that lower prices may interest a few more visitors but realistically the everyday theatre goer (not what I would call a hard-core  fan) will still go for the trusted name over the unrecognised one. If you’re spending £50+ for a ticket why take a risk?

Obviously as theatre fans we know that the rewards will so often outweigh the risk when you find your new favourite show, but we cannot expect everybody who walks into a box office or a TKTS booth to think the same.

Technically I’m a 90’s kid, but goodness I miss the 80’s! It has to be by far one of the most influential periods in the history of modern day theatre. Just think, in the 80’s they saw the birth of Les Mis, they saw the birth of Phantom, Miss Saigon, Cats, Evita (well this was 78 but it’s practically the 80s) and so many more.
Of course all of these shows began their lives as a book or say an opera, like we said, every story needs an inspiration, but generally the titles were unknown. People took a risk, went to see a new show and word of mouth has lead these titles to become the holy grail in the theatre world. They made the industry what it now is, and yet I cannot help but question whether we’ll ever get to see this kind of success happen again.

We’re well and truly in the era of screen to stage adaptations and while of course these productions are magnificent and truly astounding I cannot shake the feeling that we’re barricading the path and preventing original stories from reaching their true potential.
Who knows what’ll happen in the future, but looking at the current trends, it seems there’s only one direction we’re heading in.

What are your thoughts on the whole screen to stage phase? Are you a fan or would you like to see more original stories succeeding? To join in with the conversation you can comment below, you can Tweet us or head to our Facebook page to leave a message. 

Disclaimer 1: I have absolutely nothing against movie shows and I am honestly cannot wait to see Pretty Woman and Frozen next year! 

Disclaimer 2: I wanted to include &Juliet in this post but quite frankly had no idea where to place it. It’s a brilliant and brand new story, but is a jukebox musical filled with instantly recognisable pop songs. It treads the waters of both my categories!  

Disclaimer 3: I’ve made the pricing for Frozen up. The tickets are not on sale at the time this piece was written so it’s a very vague estimate.

Images courtesy of Google Images. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. If the movie was already a movie musical, than I have nothing wrong

    Than if it was a regular film- some make no sense to be a musical


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