Archive for April, 2011

This season, Broadway has brought us several film to live theatre adaptations, including CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, and SISTER ACT. This isn’t a new phenomenon. In recent years there has also been THE WEDDING SINGER, LEGALLY BLONDE, BILLY ELLIOT and SHREK just to name a few.

And, of course, we can’t forget Disney.

Also not a new phenomenon are adaptations that go the other direction  — from Broadway shows to film: OKLAHOMA in the 50’s, GYPSY in the 60’s, HAIR and GREASE in the late 70’s, CHICAGO in 2002, MAMMA MIA in 2008, and NINE in 2009 are just some of the many examples from over the years.

And now, there’s a somewhat new twist on this adaptation model.

This weekend, the Tony-Award-winning Broadway show, MEMPHIS is on silver screens across the country — but it’s not a film adaptation of the musical. The Broadway show was taped live back in January using high-definition cameras and sophisticated sound recording, and so this is the actual Broadway show being screened in over 500 movie theaters nationwide.

MEMPHIS is certainly getting a lot of press out of this, which will be helpful to build name recognition for the title as the show prepares to tour in Fall 2011. However, will people who have now paid just $20 to see the “Broadway show on film version” be inspired to see the show live for two, three, and in some markets possibly four times the price when it goes on tour? Will this screening turn out to be a severe misstep, or savvy marketing? Clearly the MEMPHIS team is banking on the latter.

Only time will tell, but in the meantime, here are some articles about the screening that also discuss using film versions of live stage performances as a tool to potentially capture greater interest.


“Memphis” on the movie screen: It’ is better than Broadway?


Win a Ticket to Tony Award Winning Musical “Memphis” Screening


La Jolla-born ‘Memphis’ returns on movie screens this week


Theatre comes to the big screen


‘Memphis’ brings its award-winning Broadway show to movie screens


Broadway’s ‘Memphis’ on movie screens in Arizona


Cameras capturing live plays, opera in HD

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You would have to have been living under a rock if you haven’t read at least one article about the technical complications confronting SPIDER-MAN: TURN OF THE DARK. The team will be making some adjustments to the show shortly, though I suspect the technical aspects will remain in place, or nearly so, despite the well-publicized issues.

Presuming this is the case, I’ll go out on a limb (wearing a safety harness, of course) and say the likelihood of this show going out on a National Tour anytime soon will be slim to none. Shows that go on The Road generally need to be more scaled down than what they were on Broadway for logistical, as well as financial reasons. That said, shows that go on The Road also need to retain a certain level of quality when it comes to the technical if the nature of the show demands it.

But how much is too much, or how little is too little? How much does a Road audience know or care about whether or not they are getting all the bells and whistles of the Broadway show version? Is it unfair to The Road audience for a producer to remove certain elements of spectacle? How much does a Road audience need to be impressed for the price they are paying?

Some of these questions are posed in this The Philadelphia Inquirer feature on the Philadelphia engagement of MARY POPPINS, along with other observations and experiences related to incorporating challenging and expensive technical requirements to shows built for The Road.

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