Musical Theater Multiple Features

At sometime in the past some friend of mine shared a listing of movie multiple features made up of movies that had only a couple of things in common.

Since I spent much of Friday listening to music from my collection cast recordings from various musicals, I started generating some lists of multiple features of musicals. (I know, multiple features of stage plays is a logistical near impossibility, but this is just for fun)

In case you’re not interested

Crime and journalism in Chicago in the 1920’s

Chicago

Windy City

Both of these shows deal with Chicago in the 1920’s, crime and at least a bit the effect a lot of competing newspapers had on Chicago in that era.

Chicago is based on the case of Roxie Hart, who used the murder of her lover as a springboard to minor celebrity. First staged in 1975, it was ignored — As Jerry Orbach mentioned in the recent PBS documentary Broadway: The American Musical it had the bad luck to open shortly after A Chorus Line. Since then it has become a well respected show and the first movie musical to win the Oscar for best picture in many years.

Windy City is a musical adaptation of The Front Page. This tale deals with a newspaper editor and his attempts to keep his star reporter from leaving, using the pending execution of an unlikely criminal as a central part of his plot. (The Front Page was also adapted into the movies My Girl Friday and Switching Channels).

Tales of King Arthur

Camalot

Monty Python’s Spamalot

If this pair isn’t obvious, none of them are.

Camalot is Lerner and Lowe’s mid-sixties adaptation which may be loosely based on the stories of T.E. White.

Monty Python’s Spamalot is the recent, so recent it hasn’t reached Broadway yet, adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The Old Testament on Stage

Children of Eden

History Loves Company

Children of Eden is a look at the stories of Adam, Eve, Cain and Able in the first act and of Noah and his family in the second act. The story is drawn from sources in addition to the text of Genisis. I have long suspected, but never confirmed that at least much of the Noah sequence is drawn from Jewish folklore.

History Loves Company follows the lives of a group of “other people” who parallel the text of Genisis and Exedous never quite interacting with the main characters of the biblical books.

The Gospel according to Musical Theater

Jesus Christ Superstar

Godspell

Hero! The Rock Opera

Jesus Christ Superstar was the first of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s British rock operas to hit big. It tells the story of the last week or so of Jesus’ life, portraying him as a rock star constantly arguing with Judas.

Godspell is an adaptation of the Gospel of Matthew. However, it leaves out most of the narrative and focuses on the teaching moments.

Hero! The Rock Opera was created recently. The concept album and the tour — which resembled a rock concert tour — featured a number of big Christian Rock artists, and as far as I know it has never actually been produced by a more traditional theatrical venue. although the story draws from all of the Gospels, and a bit of alternate history, the majority comes from John, as I would expect given its roots in the Evangelical Protestant movement.

Seminal backstage musicals

A Chorus Line

42nd Street

While very different in nearly every aspect, A Chorus Line and 42nd Street are two examples of the “backstage” musical — a musical set in the world of musical theater.

A Chorus Line showcases the stories of a group of dancers auditioning for parts in the chorus of a Broadway musical. It is set in the present (or at least it was in 1975 when first staged), and deals realistically with the lives of these dancers.

42nd Street is a more traditional backstage musical, complete with the female lead going from nearly not making the chorus to becoming the shows star. It takes place in the early days of the depression, and deals with the romance of Broadway.

Musicals where a key creator died

The Sound of Music

42nd Street

Rent

Not long after the opening of The Sound of Music, Lyricist Oscar Hamerstein III died of cancer, ending one of the most successfully partnerships in the history of the musical.

The day that 42nd Street opened, the shows director Gower Champion died of a blood cancer. Apparently, most of the other people involved didn’t even know he was sick. The producer, David Merrick, withheld the announcement until after the (IIRC) 12th curtain call.

The creator — composer, lyricist and I think book writer — of Rent died while the show was getting ready to reach Broadway.

Musical adaptataion of Classic Opera

Miss Saigon

Rent

Aida

Miss Saigon is a retelling of Madame Butterfly, reset to the end of the Viet Nam War.

Rent is a retelling of La Boheme, set in modern New York City.

Aida is a retelling, of Aida, which I know almost nothing more about.