One of the ways I often pass time is by thinking about film adaptations of my favorite musicals. Usually I’m imagining musicals that haven’t yet made it to the silver screen, but sometimes I think about those musicals which have been adapted for film but could use another go. With the much-anticipated Annie remake starring Quvenzhané Wallis only months away, this topic has moved to the forefront of my thoughts. Here are three of my top picks for movie musical remakes.
With so many movies being made into musicals I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of what I consider to be the best musicals made from an existing source material, be it book, movie, or other medium. Before continuing on to the list, I’ll tell you my criteria:
- I have to have actually seen the musical in question and read/watched its source. This cuts out a lot of musicals, so if your personal favorite isn’t here, that may be the reason. (Sorry, Les Mis, I just don’t have the time for that brick)
- The musical has to be an interpretation of the work, not the exact same words from the original regurgitated on stage *coughcoughTheLionKingcoughcough*
That’s pretty much it. It was still a bit challenging to fill out the list, though, as some shows I wanted to include I hadn’t yet seen or read the movies/books on which they were based. On with the countdown!
Last time I talked theatre, I discussed how problematic the love triangles in musicals can be. I also touched on how two-girls-and-a-guy triangles can negatively affect women’s relationships.
Well, that’s a major downer, so I figured this week I’d look at some fabulous lady-duos and focus on the awesomeness of women supporting other women.
These first two are frighteningly similar in situation—Glinda and Elphaba from Wicked and Amneris and Aida from Aida. Glinda and Amneris help temper their fiery friends’ wills and teach them to enjoy themselves, whereas Elphaba and Aida help the more flighty ladies gain some perspective and learn what’s really important in life. Neither overwhelm or undermine the other—they both help each other to grow.
Wicked also brings us the most tearjerking-but-great anthem to friendship ever, “For Good”, so I’d be remiss not to post it here.
My third pair’s friendship isn’t quite as high-profile as the others, but I still think it’s worth mentioning. Phantom of the Opera‘s Christine Daae is close friends with Meg Giry, the ballet mistress’s daughter. Over the course of the musical, we don’t see Christine doing much for Meg, as she is beset by suitors and dealing with sudden fame. However, Meg is a constant presence, and is full of both pride and practical concern for her friend. Christine probably would have avoided a lot of crap if she’d spent more time listening to Meg.
There’s also Maria and Anita from West Side Story. Their relationship is a bit more complicated, but, like Meg, Anita just wants what’s best for Maria. Their friendship is sorely tested when boy drama—which here means that Maria’s boyfriend was sort of responsible for Anita’s boyfriend’s death, and that when Anita tries to help Maria and her boyfriend out anyways she gets the crap beaten out of her (and, in some productions, raped) for her efforts—intervenes. They are a good example of the fact that nobody’s perfect, and of the toll that outside stressors can have on an otherwise healthy friendship.
Finally, let’s consider Nettie and Celie from The Color Purple. (Yeah, they’re sisters too, but it still counts.) Nettie and Celie have a truly hard life, escaping a sexually and physically abusive father only to be separated for years when Celie is married off to another abuser. Despite this long, forced time apart, Nettie constantly thinks of Celie and even helps raise the children Celie had as a result of her father’s abuse. Celie gains strength and hope from the belief that her sister has it better than she does. It isn’t till the end of the story that they’re reunited in person, but despite the physical distance between them throughout the rest of the play, their bond never really weakens.
I sadly had some trouble compiling this list, which I think means there needs to be far more musicals with chummy lady leads. Of course, I haven’t seen every musical, so maybe I’m forgetting some—let me know what I’m missing in the comments.