Sunday, February 19, 2012

And I Will Always Exploit You

Heather Headley

Some movies deserve Broadway Musical adaptations, while other don't. For many years before it happened, I hoped Mel Brooks would bring The Producers* to Broadway. It was a perfect fit and resulted in a record number of Tony awards. But The Producers was a movie about Broadway; an obovious choice for musicalization. Brooks' attempt at adapting Young Frankenstein was far less successful (and let's hope his planned stage version of Blazing Saddles never comes to fruition).

Disney, of course, has had some massive successes with The Lion King; Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins, while the less said about Tarzan and The Little Mermaid, the better. I really loved the Broadway version of Xanadu but more because it parodied the movie, instead of trying to reinvent it. Currently on Broadway there are no less than six musical adaptions of movies, including Sister Act; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Newsies and Ghost. Off-Broadway musical versions of Silence of the Lambs (admittedly a parody) and Carrie (a revival of one of Broadway's most infamous flops) are also playing in New York. This trend is disturbing to me, because it follows the current Hollywood trend of remakes, reboots and television adaptations that have angered so many fans over the lack of original material. Where are all the original musicals? And why can't I find a composer with the follow-through to help me finish any of mine? But I digress...

Perhaps most disturbing of all, is the announcement of the West End musical production of the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston movie The Bodyguard. Apparently in the works for a while, Houston's death has propelled interest in the show, which will include songs from the film as well as other songs from Houston's canon. Really? Starring the rather amazing Heather Headley (above) as Houston's character Rachel, the show is currently scheduled for a Fall premiere. Headley, who was outstanding in The Lion King and truly amazing in Aida, is one of the few stage actresses I can see taking on the role with any hope of success, though I think Weight Watchers' spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson would be the shoe-in for a film version. 

Still - Houston's body is barely in the ground. Should producers be exploiting her legacy for profits this soon? If nothing else, the musical version of The Bodyguard seems in bad taste, if not outright exploitation. Though exploitation seems to be the name of the game, these days. And how sad is that?

As an antidote, here is Chris Cornell's rather amazing tribute to Whitney:

*I'd also come out of retirement to play Max Bialistock in The Producers.

More, anon.


Pam said...

I hate when hair covers a person's face.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Chris Cornell has such a beautiful voice. I think Dolly Parton is jealous that Whitney made her song so much more successful. Everyone associates it with Whitney now and Dolly always pipes up, "THAT'S MY SONG!"

Jennifer Hudson could do Whitney. So I agree.

Stephen said...

An original Broadway Musical would be so refreshing. What was the last good one? Grease in 1972?