Over the past couple of decades, the idea of adapting popular Broadway musical productions to the big screen has become a great trend in the movie industry. What seems to be the appeal to movie-makers of this particular genre when they have the difficulty of competing against the audiences’ love for the original stage production? There are several answers to that question. Each Broadway musical, as with any theatrical production, revolves around a particular storyline and often focuses on certain characters. While the writer of the screenplay must stay as true to the original stage script as possible, they have the ability to deepen the lives of certain characters, focusing on holes left open for individual interpretation. Another advantage of adapting the stage musical to the screen is the ability to expand the scenery and to enhance special effects, which would make the story seem more realistic to the audience. Not only does the transfer of the famous Broadway musical to the silver screen make it easier to captivate the audience by deeper storylines and spectacular scenery, this new genre gives actors a different means to express their talents.
Gerald Butler, who starred as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webbers’ 2004 film version of “Phantom of the Opera,” is a perfect example of this situation. Butler, well-known for his more dramatic performances in films such as “Tomorrow Never Dies,” was able to broaden his horizons in his role as the mysterious Phantom. According to a quote from Butler in one of the DVD’s behindthe- scenes features, this was the first time he ever attempted to sing. Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger of “Chicago,” are other examples of actors who surprised audiences with their impressive voices and dance moves. While “Phantom” and “Chicago” are just a few big names that have made their way to the silver screen from the Broadway stage, the excitement of transforming musicals into movies has been going on for quite some time. “Grease,” another popular stage-to-screen musical, has been one of the driving forces of John Travolta’s career in the entertainment industry.
However, just because wellknown Broadway productions have been taking Hollywood bystorm, other directors found a perfect opportunity to open up brand new ideas for musical extravaganzas. “Moulin Rouge,” created by Baz Luhrmann, is a perfect example of movie-musical individuality. With an original modern soundtrack, and a variety of wild color and vivid imagery, “Moulin Rouge” takes audiences on a breathtaking ride through 20th century Paris. Starring well-known actors Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, the film certainly gives a cutting edge to the genre. Will the movie musical trend ever die? Highly doubtful! Just look at the upcoming film version of the Broadway musical “Rent” for proof. As long as Broadway itself exists alongside the silver screen, it is almost certain, given its history, that this will continue to reign as a classic genre.