Broadway Love

So your bucket list includes hearing Broadway arrangements of Tupac Shakur’s greatest hits? Have I got news for you. Currently underway in New York City is a workshop for Holler If Ya Hear Me, a musical based on the works of Tupac Shakur.

Directed by Kenny Leon, whose recent work includes helming Fences, The Mountaintop, and Stick Fly, the musical is in the very early stages of development. Like most “jukebox” musicals, the story is original, not biographical, so there will probably not be anyone playing Tupac, either in person or as a hologram.

This will not the be first run of hip hop on Broadway. The 2008 production of In the Heights featured songs inspired by hip hop. That production went on to win multiple Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. Here’s some of In the Heights:

My Favorite Christmas Story

While it pains me to talk Christmas in the middle of November, the timing can’t be avoided on this one. A Christmas Story, The Musical opened today on Broadway. While it’s standard procedure for publicists to tout the latest product of the Hollywood-to-Broadway pipeline as “based on a beloved classic”, in this case, I find myself in agreement.

Yes, I’m going to trot out the “before it was cool” thing. I saw the film at age 8, something the weak box office receipts of the original run suggest can’t be a boast made by many. (Though I’m not sure I’d want to waste my boasts on that.) Mostly panned by critics, it limped through the holiday season before disappearing. But not for good.

As Turner likes to remind you, A Christmas Story is a big thing now. That seems to be the result of that rare phenomenon: “it was shown on TV, a lot.” I still doze off to the marathon most Christmas Eves.

Now, it’s big enough for a new musical adaptation that’s running through the holidays at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. While I’ve only been reading up on it, it appears to cover all the highlights: poles, lamps, bunny suits, hungry dogs, and more.

One does not need to be the beneficiary of a major award to check out the show, no matter how fragile. Check our listings for A Christmas Story, The Musical and see how well Ralphie can sing in that pink nightmare.

Seeing Les Misérables in the Right Order

Watching SNL on the DVR Sunday morning reminded me of a couple things. One, Anne Hathaway is starring in a film adaptation of Les Misérables, and two, she thinks having a hairstyle disturbingly close the one I had when I was twelve, and a boy, is a good idea.

One of those things I still am, of course.

Still, it’s a fine reason to remind everyone that the big, Christmas Day, ensemble cast film lead by Hugh Jackman is based on a musical. A musical that is, conveniently, touring up a storm right this very minute.

That musical is itself based on Victor Hugo’s novel, and was first produced in Paris in 1980. The road to The Great White Way wound through London’s East End, where the English language version debuted. It underwent some tinkering in the translation from French to English, something that would occur again when it finally made its Broadway debut in 1987.

The Broadway version is basically the version currently touring. The film version is unique in being an adaptation of the musical, though it’s upwards of 13th in line of film adaptations of the source material. Note, I’m not including the Anime version in that list (because it was on televsion).

No word on what, if any, changes the film will have vs the musical. If there’s one synergy between sci-fi and Broadway geeks, it’s a tenacious, at times irrational, devotion to the original source. Deviate too far and suffer the wrath of, well… some guy on a Les Mis fan forum on the Internet.

So, be sure to check out the touring productions of Les Mis before going to see the film. You’ll need it fresh in your memory, otherwise your scathing critiques about the film on the Internet will not be intellectually rigorous.

Musical Sister Act Heads to Broadway

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Whoopi Goldberg Played the Mother Superior
Role briefly during the West End production.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Successful box office vehicle is adapted to musical and is heading to Broadway. Though you should have stopped me by now, I’ll go ahead and reveal that Sister Act will be opening at the Broadway Theatre in spring 2011. In the defense of both parties, the film was actually a musical, and the musical isn’t new, it’s been around since 2006, opening first in Pasadena and more recently playing in London’s prestigious West End.

Both the film and the musical tell the the story of lounge act Deloris Van Cartier and her time spent hiding out from her mobster ex-boyfriend in a convent. Deloris helps tune up the choir while she’s there, ends up leading them to success, and eventually performing for the Pope. The bit about her ruthless killer ex- is also, at some point, resolved happily.

The musical version of Sister Act is written by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and music by Alan Menken, man very familiar with scoring film adaptions as well as films. No word yet on who will be staring in this new production yet. Likewise, tickets are not yet avaialble, but will, eventually, on our Sister Act Tickets page.

More Bang For Your American Idiot Buck

If you happen to want to catch the Broadway show based on the music of Green Day this week, you’ll have the special bonus of Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong playing one of the characters. Armstrong is filling in for Tony Vincent in the role of “Jimmy,” the self-destructive alter ego of the musical’s protagonist Johnny. While Jimmy isn’t the main character, he’s got a few songs over the course of the musical, and most reports from Armstrong’s first night are highly favorable.

American Idiot is based on the Green Day album of the same name, includes songs from both that album, 21st Century Breakdown, and originals to tell the story of Johnny and two friends growing up with war, drugs, love, loss… you know, the usual stuff. Currently playing at the St. James Theatre, you can pick up tickets on the American Idiot Tickets page. Armstrong will be doing only 8 shows, so time is running out to catch the performance.