May 25, 2006
So Slate is covering theater, willy-nilly. Its latest piece, on the trend of movies being turned into stage musicals, mostly states the obvious: that musicals are devilishly hard to get right, and starting with proven source material is more than just box-office insurance or "branding." It's also practical and wise. After all, the best musicals were based on material that had a previous life, from My Fair Lady to Sweeney Todd. This is true even of great musicals cobbled together from sources other than well-made plays, like short stories or collections: Guys and Dolls, Cabaret, Fiddler. When I really think about it, I can't recall a truly great musical with an entirely original book. Some have pointed out to me The Music Man, but I'm not sure I'd put that in the top rank of musicals. Can you think of others?
Posted by Rob Weinert-Kendt at 11:13 AM