Spring Awakening & In the Heights to Hit the Big Screen, or: film as film, and stage as stage


According to the Carnegie Hall website, "the Carnegie Hall Notables is a membership group specifically created for music enthusiasts in their 20s and 30s. The Notables program celebrates music through intimate discussions with musicians, concerts, private performances, and exclusive Notables-only social gatherings."

At the October 6 Revival: Broadway's Next Act panel discussion, films of both Tony winning musicals Spring Awakening and In the Heights were mentioned.

The panel discussion was moderated by Ana Gasteyer and featured Spring Awakening composer Duncan Sheik, Legally Blonde director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell, creator-star of In the Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hairspray film director Adam Shanknman, and original Rent star Anthony Rapp.

Playbill.com
states that when the discussion of stage musicals crossing over into film came up, Miranda asked Sheik if there was a Spring Awakening picture in the works. Sheik declined to comment, but Shankman noted that the rights had already been acquired.

Shankman also mentioned Jennifer Lopez's interest in bringing In the Heights to the movie screen. Miranda, like Sheik, declined to comment on a movie version of his 2008 Best Musical and revealed that he will be leaving the show in February of 2009.

I've been dreaming of film adaptations of these two shows. In the Heights particularly seems well suited to transfer to celluloid. However, I've always mentioned that with the right director, Spring Awakening could make a fascinating film.

The real trick pony in Spring's award winning production was the direction by Michael Mayer. It utilized the presence of the stage and incorporated theater with live concert characteristics which worked to beautiful effect. The key to making an equally successful film is to really use the media that the source material is being adapted for. The live concert thing (pulling out mics, audience interaction) while working great on stage, would not have the same effect in a movie theater. Hopefully the director of the film can realize this and bring the musical into a true film-ic form.

Perhaps when the music starts, the editing and cinematography shifts from basic linear storytelling techniques to more contemporary music-video stylings - incorporating slow motion, odd camera angles, inter-cut crossfades and wipes, and metaphoric staging. Instead of pulling out a mic from the jacket pockets, when Melchior starts to sing "All That's Known," a shift in camera tone will allow the song to be presented in a more Nirvana's "Smell's Like Teen Spirit" filtered through a Michel Gondry lens of REM's "Losing My Religion."





The possibilities of the film format for Spring are exciting to ponder about. I just hope that once the project is greenlighted, that the producers and directors of the film be artistically engaged in the project as a film and not a filmed version of the stage show. The Producers we not need another. Sweeney Todd and Chicago adaptations, yes.

Even better, maybe the creative team behind Once could offer up some pointers on how to truly make a wonderful movie musical.

4 comments:

Esther said...

Yeah, I kind of have my doubts about Spring Awakening. I just wonder how some of the choreography, like for "The Bitch of Living" would look on the big screen.

Joseph Gomez said...

I agree. That's why I hope they really try to re-envision the story for film. While Bill T. Jones' choreography was stunning to me, I want to see an original take on the musical creatively adapted to the most important art form of the former century, film.

the artist formerly known as jess. said...

I'd expect a true visionary director, such Julie Taymor or the aforementioned Michel Gondry, to be able to pull off a film version of SA.

Not only weird camera angles, but different layers, a la Taymor's work in "Across the Universe" (which was filmed at my high school, believe it or not), especially in the "Strawberry Fields" sequence.

Choreography can be adapted and re-interpreted, and while I (like so many others) am in love with what Bill T. Jones initially did on stage, I truly believe that he can make it fit for the screen.

Anyway. those are my thoughts...I'm an SA Guilty One, and we at the forum have been thinking about the possibility of a film for quite a while now...

Joseph Gomez said...

tafkaj,

That's exactly what I'm hoping for, a truly visionary director who understands not only the conventions of theatre, but the language of film itself. One who can take SA and make it a memorable film. It's possible.

 

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