Musical Mayhem

     Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a story, be it a film, short story, play, novel, etc, and turn it into a musical? The idea of taking one of my favorite stories and turning it into a musical has appealed to me in the past. Some of the greatest musicals out there are based on some of the greatest stories. For example, the story of Pygmalion, written in 1913 by George Bernard Shaw, was first captured on film in the 1938 film Pygmalion, directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, but then was turned into a musical on film in the 1964 classic My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor. My Fair Lady has to be one of the greatest musicals of all time, first because of its wonderful story and second because of the wonderful music written for this story.

     Although it takes a wonderful story to make a great musical not all stories can be made into a musical. For instance, the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs, directed by Jonathan Demme, is a terrific film with a great story, but could you imagine a musical based on it? I suppose that a musical based on the story of Hannibal Lector would have the cannibal singing songs about eating people. Although I find the idea of a musical about a cannibal amusing (Cannibal the Musical, directed by Trey Parker, is one of my favorite musicals by far because of its humor), the idea of taking The Silence of the Lambs and turning into a comedy, which is what a musical version would turn it into, does not appeal to me. Some stories just should not be changed.

     Likewise, it may take good music to make a great musical, but the music alone cannot make a musical great. In my opinion, The Sound of Music, directed by Robert Wise in 1965, has wonderful music; however, the story is not as great as the music and the story becomes annoying as the story drags along.

     As you can see, it takes both a great story (which must be musical worthy) and great music to make a good musical.

Nolan Patton

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