BROADWAY’S RISE FROM STAGE TO BIG SCREEN

bway
Rent (2005), Phantom of the Opera (2004), Chicago (2002), Les Miserables (2012), Sweeney Todd (2007)

Broadway shows have held their place in the entertainment industry as both a platform for artists to launch their careers, as well as a stage for seasoned actors to take a break from television or film in order to exercise their musical talents. Over the past several years, however, Hollywood has taken a growing interest in the small stage by adapting some of the most famous shows into film. Rent, The Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserables are the three that come to mind when one thinks of big-budget adaptations. With Broadway holding a massive following of self-proclaimed “theater geeks,” a backlash has come to light in response to these beloved plays gaining “bandwagon” fans – all very arbitrary, although widely discussed. So, the question right now is simple: is Broadway going mainstream?

On June 20th, Hollywood released Jersey Boys to the masses, gaining relatively positive reviews. This comes as somewhat of a commercial success for Broadway after the critically acclaimed Les Miserables smashed the box office back in 2012. Film adaptations haven’t always been cause for celebration, though. Rent, and The Producers – both having had amazingly successful runs on the stage – flopped when it came to their big screen debuts. It seems as though the successful shifts from stage to screen come when big names appear on the credits. For example, Hairspray starred both John Travolta and Zac Efron, Dreamgirls cast Beyonce and Jamie Foxx, Les Miserables captured Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, and Sweeney Todd gave us Johnny Depp.

Film adaptations aren’t the only platform that displays A-list actors and actresses. Broadway has recently seen the likes of Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston, How I Met Your Mother‘s Neil Patrick Harris, Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall, This Is The End‘s James Franco, Blue Valentine‘s Michelle Williams, and Harry Potter‘s Daniel Radcliffe all performing to massive audiences. The “bandwagon” fans have flocked to NYC to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars on stage, paying upwards of $150 per ticket. Many say that Hollywood’s interest in the small stage has boosted a general personal interest for virgin theatergoers, and it can’t be argued. As of right now, tickets to Neil Patrick Harris’ show Hedwig And The Angry Inch are either sold out or well over the average price for a show – the same can be said about Franco’s Of Mice and Men, as well as Cranston’s All The Way.

With more than thirty Tony Award winning musicals having been made into major motion pictures, it’s crystal clear that Hollywood is making an attempt to pull the close-knit theater community into the spotlight. We can look forward to many musicals coming to the big screen, and (hopefully) a re adaptation of Hedwig that will become a cult classic a la Rocky HorrorWhether you’ve been a lifelong fan, or if you’re just discovering the beauty of Broadway, check out some of the hottest shows on stage here now!

Jessica Natale for The Untitled Magazine

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