If These Were Musicals: Part 1: Tangled & Anastasia
Gianfranco Lentini imagines film to stage adaptations of these popular works.
In the world of theater today, new work is in high demand with many audiences. There is a cry for new ideas, new books, and new songs - and believe me, as a playwright, I completely agree that this is where we should be headed.
However, I constantly find myself thinking about three particular movies that one day I'd love to see on Broadway and that I believe would be as incredible as the original works. They are: Tangled, Anastasia, and Moulin Rouge.
Every so often as I sit down to re-watch these movies, I find myself casting characters in my head, making mental notes of the scenery and costuming, and even planning where more musical numbers could be included (as well as an intermission). I've even pulled out my notebook and begun scribbling ideas as to how an adaptation would even begin for any of these movies.
Playing with ideas, I believe I've come up with a few good ones that might entertain the lot of you and might spark a few discussions as well. Here are my ideas for staging and casting... Enjoy!
Disney's Tangled - Imagine for a minute sitting in the darkened Circle in the Square Theatre, when suddenly hundreds of floating lanterns descend from the ceiling, hovering over the audience. In the middle of the theater, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are slowly drifting clockwise in their boat for everyone to see. This is the picture that always jumps into my mind when I think of bringing Tangled to Broadway.
Placing Tangled in an in-the-round setting has many advantages, mainly due to how the movie was drawn/created. Many locations seen throughout the film (e.g. Rapunzel's tower, the forest, the kingdom, the lantern scene, etc.) all have structural qualities about them that would allow for easy adaption into a circular environment. As for the music heard throughout the movie, there are plenty of songs featuring Rapunzel, but the number of orchestrations outnumbers the amount of songs actually sung; this would be the biggest piece to work on during adaption.
Now for casting (remember, this is only an idea and is open to discussion): Patti Murin (Lysistrata Jones) as Rapunzel, Zachary Levi (Tangled) as Flynn Rider, and Donna Murphy (Tangled) as Mother Gothel (though just for giggles - wouldn't it be great to see Bernadette Peters reprise the role of Witch? Any Sondheim fans?) What would really be a challenge, however, would be to see how Pascal and Maximus would be portrayed on stage... Would they be better played by puppets or actors?
Anastasia - Once again, let's close our eyes and picture walking through the royal façade of the Foxwoods Theatre and into the grand lobby where we'd take a moment to appreciate the marbled floors, staircases, and elaborate lighting. Immediately, the Foxwoods Theatre has added the royal treatment and already places the audience within an environment that feels as rich as the Romanov's palace.
Because the movie was already created to be a cartoon musical, it features many musical numbers that entail not only Anastasia singing about her past but a huge ensemble as well (though a few more numbers could always be used to help lengthen the show). The progression of movie scenes even allows for an intermission to be aptly placed between the time it takes Anastasia to get from Russia to France. However, scenes like the train crash and the boat out at storm would prove to be more difficult to pull off on stage, but that's the magic of theater; if the Foxwoods can currently house a Spider-Man spectacular, why couldn't Anastasia be just as easily produced?
Casting time: Laura Osnes (Bonnie and Clyde) or Jennifer Damiano (Spider-Man) as Anastasia, Josh Segarra (Lysistrata Jones) or Reeve Carney (Spider-Man) as Dimitri, Raul Esparza (Leap of Faith) as Rasputin, and Angela Lansbury (Anastasia) as Grandmother. The character of Dimitri can be portrayed as two different kinds of guys. As for Vladimir and Bartok, who do you think would best play them?
Come back next week, and I'll unveil my ideas for Moulin Rouge! The best is yet to come!