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Broadway or bust: Hollywood takes over theater

Avery Conrad, R1 News Editor

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Original shows have always been the highlight of Broadway, and with the astounding success that the Broadway musicals Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen recently had, that seems to be the norm. Yet movie adaptations are becoming more prevalent, as Mean Girls, Frozen and even SpongeBob SquarePants have made their debuts on Broadway this year.

According to broadway.com, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a spin-off of the popular book and movie series, holds the number one spot on the list of popular Broadway shows, which begs the question: Are people really more interested in watching their favorite films played out on stage than in seeing new content?

In some cases, the Broadway versions of popular movies have gained as much, if not more, attention than their original counterparts. The Lion King has been topping Broadway charts since its debut in 1997, and is well-known for its exquisite set and costumes. Junior Meghan Johnson said, “They feel like different stories entirely, because even though the plot is the same, the costumes and design of the musical are so detailed and ornate that you feel like you’re walking through the Met.”

The creative license that many theatrical productions choose to take is often considered beneficial to the story line. One example is in the new Mean Girls adaption during the prom scene, when main character Cady (played by Erika Henningsen) apologizes for becoming a mean girl, and Regina George (Taylor Louderman) surprises the audience by advising Cady to never apologize for being strong, only for misusing her power. Overall, the musical stayed close to the original movie plot despite the characters’ utilization of social media and the addition of feminist messages.

Marquees on Broadway

According to junior Savannah Stewart, the fact that the musical stayed true to the movie was a good thing. “I’ve always thought it was super cool to see how the producers and directors would add that musical aspect,” she said. “I always look forward to seeing how it adds to it or if it takes away from the story at all … Sometimes I think [the musicals] stray away from the movie, which is something I don’t really like.”

Another recent Broadway adaptation came in the form of Frozen, which premiered in 2018, five years after the movie. The movie gained notoriety for its amazing soundtrack, featuring empowering female characters and highlighting the importance of sisterly bonds.

Freshman Katie McHugh said the music in the play was “pretty much the same” and “also really well-done.” While some audiences may view the similarities between the original and the play as a negative, McHugh said she “liked that it was similar because it is such a good movie, it shouldn’t be changed.”

Whether Broadway movie adaptations choose to stay true to the original scripts or not, they don’t seem to be going away. This year alone, Pretty Woman, King Kong and To Kill a Mockingbird are coming out along with 13 Going on 30, Beetlejuice and 17 Again to follow.

As Hollywood continues to be dominated by sequels and spin-offs, it seems that Broadway is following closely behind with their adaptations. Ultimately, it’s up to the audience to choose. Will you be at opening night of Mean Girls 2?

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