With 'Grease,' 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' 'DreamGirls' and the like, the Movie Musicals category has yielded some fine gems. The latest, of course, is 'Les Miserables,' which critics are calling a clear Oscar frontrunner. However, the same cannot be said for the exact reverse of this scenario – meaning movies adapted into musicals.
Where other Broadway adaptations of top-selling films have succeeded, like with ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Once,’ there are truckloads that have not (cough, cough, the ‘Spider-Man’ musical). And with music from ‘Rocky: The Musical’ making the rounds, we fear this could be the latest to get thrown in the Broadway discard pile. But with titles like ‘The Wedding Singer: The Musical’ and ‘Grumpy Old Men: The Musical,’ does it deserve to be called one of the worst musicals based on a movie? Maybe these 10 stage disasters will help you decide.
'Bring It On: The Musical'
We didn’t think Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku’s performances in the first ‘Bring It On’ movie warranted a companion musical, but hey, c’est la vie! You can actually see it on Broadway now, as if the many commercials running on the local NYC TV channels haven't already reminded us… over and over and over. Some critics have called ‘’Bring It On: The Musical’ “dazzling,” but we’re just waiting for someone to hurt him or herself, like it seems everyone in the ‘Spider-Man’ musical already has.
What made ‘Ghost’ so great, was Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. So if you replace those three with almost obnoxiously perky songs about love, what’s left? A musical that should have stayed dead. Reviews seemed somewhat split down the middle, with some like THR calling it a “flavorless hash that is unrelentingly loud, vulgar and stunningly tone-deaf,” and others like HuffPost praising it for its set technology. In the end, it doesn’t matter what the critics thought, because the audience's lack of interest and ticket purchases warranted cancellation.
If you’re going to adapt a movie into a Broadway musical, you have to bring something to the stage that folks watching on Netflix won’t be able to see. For ‘The Lion King’ musical, it was stunning costumes and production design; and for ‘The Little Mermaid,’ it was actors zooming around the stage on hidden skates. But for ‘Shrek: The Musical,’ audiences got the same jokes and banter from the movie, which pretty much everyone already saw.
'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'
Some Broadway goers have professed that they only attended a ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ showing to see one of the performers injure themselves. It’s a dark outlook, but kind of true nonetheless. The production value is in the toilet with its clearly visible harnesses and even more blatant black-clad stagehands moving around props for "special effects." Plus, Spidey and the Green Goblin swing so close to the attendees’ heads that we’re shocked no viewer has been seriously injured yet. And how could we forget how the lead actor fell out of his harness in one of the earlier performances, nearly shutting down production entirely? That’s family fun right there.
'Jerry Springer: The Opera'
We know this one isn’t based on a movie, but the premise is so, so ridiculous that we needed to mention the ‘Jerry Springer’ musical… excuse us, “Opera.” Though this hot mess of a musical did not make it to Broadway, we’re still bellowing with laughter over songs like “I Just Want to Dance,” which by the way was one of the big belting numbers where this guy’s wife reveals she’s a stripper and all she wants to do is dance on a pole ‘cause it makes her feel alive.
'The Lord of the Rings Musical'
(We still count this one among the musicals based on movies, though one could argue it's based on the books.) No one really knows which ideas for new Broadway musicals will work best, but someone had to know that one based on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ would bomb. Our favorite review of this musical has to be the one Variety wrote, calling it a “saga of short people burdened by power jewelry,” as if the skipping hobbits singing showtunes didn’t tip us off. Way to go, guys. You’ve officially found a way to make ‘The Lord of the Rings’ lame as hell.
'Legally Blonde: The Musical'
This one has to be our favorite musical disaster because it was such a train wreck. After the show proved it couldn’t rack up the ticket sales just on appeal (um, derp!), the decision was made to start a reality TV show to find the next blonde-haired girl to assume the lead role in ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ – that was a riot in itself as the brunette-haired contestants were some of the best singers but the judges couldn’t get past the fact that they… you know… weren’t blonde. But when the winner was finally chosen, she only performed the gig a handful of times before the musical closed. We can’t remember if this was before or after MTV aired ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ in its entirety with Lauren Conrad hosting as its last unofficial attempt to say, “Buy tickets! Please!” Which reminds us, you can also watch the whole thing in parts on YouTube.
It’s pretty safe to say that if a musical failed miserably in its first showing in 1988 and then still failed (though not so miserably) in 2012, then it’s probably utter crap on a cracker. We’re talking about ‘Carrie: The Musical’! Perhaps it was the hype surrounding the upcoming movie reboot (with Chloe Moretz in the title role and Julianne Moore playing her crazy religious mother) that made Broadway try to unearth this hot mess of a show. However, scathing reviews this time around, including the one from The New Yorker titled “Is ‘Carrie’ the Worst Musical of All Time?,” proved that Stephen King and showtunes have never been and should never be mixed.
You’re not reading this incorrectly. Someone turned ‘Evil Dead,’ that gruesome horror movie that’s getting an equally gruesome big screen reboot, into a musical. If you’re wondering how could that creepy scene where a girl gets sexually assaulted by demonic trees could’ve been revised for the stage… well, it couldn’t really. The final product of ‘Evil Dead: The Musical’ was a bunch of Bruce Campbell-looking wannabes singing “What the F--- Was That?” and zombiefied actors comically getting shot in the chest. In short: it’s a nightmare. Plus, it’s the only musical with a “splatter zone,” to our knowledge at least.
'High Fidelity: The Musical'
John Cusack’s performance as a record shop owner/compulsive list maker helped make ‘High Fidelity’ an instant classic, but that doesn’t mean it should've been made into a musical. Come on, people! The show hit in 2006 and was hence bashed by critics for being dull, forgettable -- hell, we even forgot there was one – and turning the characters from loveably obnoxious to embarrassingly campy. With ‘Legally Blonde,’ we enjoyed watching its downward spiral to oblivion; with ‘Carrie,’ there was at least that freakout scene at the end; but with ‘High Fidelity,’ we just can’t stop wanting to punch whoever gave the OK to make this abomination.
Did We Miss Any?
There are so many god-awful musicals based on movies out in the world. Let us know which ones we haven't covered in the comments below.