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Top 10 Broadway Shows That Should Be Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake The movie musical is back and here to stay…as long as Broadway keeps providing source material. Join MsMojo as we count down the Top 10 Broadway musicals that should be movies. For this list, we’re taking a look at Broadway musicals that we would love to see get the big-budget Hollywood treatment, and make the leap from the stage to the screen.

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Top 10 Broadway Shows That Should Be Movies

The movie musical is back and here to stay…as long as Broadway keeps providing source material. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Broadway musicals that should be movies.

For this list, we’re taking a look at Broadway musicals that we would love to see get the big-budget Hollywood treatment, and make the leap from the stage to the screen.

#10: “Next to Normal”

“Next to Normal” is like the rock musical version of “American Beauty,” showing the grim side of suburban life from the perspectives of both adults and young adults. This Pulitzer Prize winner further mixes elements of dark humor, drama, and – of course – music to deal with such serious issues as suicide, drugs, and bi-polar disorder. Because who says that the people in musicals always have to be rays of sunshine? The day-to-day lives of the Goodman family may not be joyful; but by the end, they just might find a light in the darkness.

#9: “Assassins”

Abraham Lincoln may’ve been assassinated in a theater, but you wouldn’t think his murder would ever be a suitable subject matter for a musical. Stephen Sondheim’s music and John Weidman’s book and lyrics, however, completely sell it. In addition to John Wilkes Booth, “Assassins” brings together John Hinckley, Jr., Lee Harvey Oswald, and other historic assassins – some attempted, some successful – that hold on tight to their dreams and rights. Presenting them in both a satirical and sympathetic light, “Assassins” is one of the most unique Broadway experiences you’ll likely ever have with potential for a fascinating movie.

#8: “Monty Python’s Spamalot”

If you’re a huge fan of Monty Python and you’re a huge fan of musicals, then “Spamalot” will be a dream come true. This Tony Award winning show is essentially a musical version of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” – but not enough so that it isn’t worthy of its own film treatment. It’s bursting with original songs from Eric Idle, Neil Innes and John du Prez, but works in plenty of Python classics as well, like the immortal “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” “Spamalot” marvelously captures the Monty Python spirit while poking fun at everything from the Arthurian legend to other Broadway hits. Let us ride from Camelot to Hollywood!

#7: “Company”

Have we got a musical for you! The oldest show on our list, this six-time Tony Award-winning “Company” has been a Broadway favorite for years and has undergone several revivals. Nevertheless, we’ve yet to see it get the Hollywood treatment. Directors like Herbert Ross and Neil LaBute have been attached to a potential adaptation in the past, but they never went into development. The show’s satire of relationships is timeless, though, as is Stephen Sondheim’s music. Our birthday wish this year is to see “Company” become a movie, preferable with Neil Patrick Harris as Bobby.

#6: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

The title might be a mouthful, but what do you expect from a show about a spelling bee? A film adaptation of this wonderful musical unfortunately wouldn’t be able to utilize audience participation the way the stage show does. By assembling the right director and a cast with a strong improvisational background, however, the story could still leap off the screen. The question is whether the movie should be more like the family friendly version or the adult’s only edition? For that matter, should the Bee contestants be portrayed by actual children or eternally youthful grown ups?

#5: “Sunday in the Park with George”

As you may know, even from this list, Stephen Sondheim has contributed to some of the greatest musicals ever. The Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sunday in the Park with George” just might be his best musical that’s yet to become a feature film. Inspired by Georges Seurat’s famous painting, it only makes sense for the show to make the transition to moving pictures. If they could get Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin, who originated the roles, to reprise their parts as well, we could have a true work of art on our hands.

#4: “Avenue Q”

Premiering in 2003, “Avenue Q” is one of the funniest, most creative, and most obscene shows ever to hit Broadway. While it works exceptionally on stage, “Avenue Q” might function even better as a movie. On screen, both the puppets and their environments could be even livelier, creating a cartoony cinematic world that’s like a cross between “Sesame Street” and “Team America.” With songs like “It Sucks to Be Me,” “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” and “The Internet Is for Porn,” it’d be in contention for the honor of greatest R-rated puppet movie ever made.

#3: “The Book of Mormon”

We knew that Matt Stone and Trey Parker were talented in the ways of satire and song, so when this musical hit Broadway in 2011, we were psyched. With songs co-written by the boys and Robert Lopez – who you might know from his work on “Avenue Q” or “Frozen” – “The Book of Mormon” follows a pair of newbie Missionaries sent to Africa to school the locals in the ways of Joseph Smith…Ish. The winner of nine Tonys and one Grammy, the production’s themes of faith and – conversely – doubt would translate perfectly to the big screen and there’s been talk of making that happen, with the “Hakuna Matata”-like “Hasa Diga Eebowai” acting as the perfect theme song.

#2: “Wicked”

The musical on this list that’s probably the closest to becoming a film, this Stephen Schwartz production first played on Broadway in 2003, and almost immediately sparked interest in a Hollywood take. As if Dorothy’s adventures in Oz weren’t already exciting enough, “Wicked” shows things from a different perspective, telling the tale from the witches’ points-of-view, and focusing mainly on the friendship between Glinda the Good and Elphaba – better known as the Wicked Witch of the West. With a soundtrack that already seems tailor-made for a Hollywood film, this Tony and Grammy Award-winner is a classic tale of good versus evil, but also of destiny, motivation and being true to yourself – themes anyone can relate to onstage or onscreen.

Before we close the curtain on our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- “Caroline, or Change”
- “The Light in the Piazza”
- “Violet”
- “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

#1: “Cats”

Having premiered in London in 1981 and moving to Broadway the following year, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” is the third-longest running Broadway show of all time, with seven Tony awards to its name. With those kinds of credentials, it’s surprising “Cats” has yet to become a full-fledged, Hollywood movie. On the other hand, this would be one of the hardest shows to ever adapt for the screen. Should it feature real actors dressed as cats, real cats and CGI magic, or just be an animated musical? It might take the most ambitious artistic visionary of this generation to pull such an endeavor off, but “Cats: The Movie” could be a cinematic experience unlike any other.

Do you agree with our list? What Broadway show do you want to see become a movie? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.


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