These days it seems all forms of media are connecting, sharing and exploring different versions of the same stories. Everything is displayed in different ways. For example, The Snow Queen, one of the classic fairytales we all know and love, has recently been portrayed in movie theaters around the world in the popular animated film, Frozen. It has been announced Frozen is heading to Broadway, yet another form of media that has been adapting preexisting stories since its beginning. There are lots of fabulous books out there that would make delightful musicals, but three really stand out and are destined to be staged. Warning, spoiler alerts may be ahead! You have been warned!
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
One of my favorite books of all time is a beautiful story of defiance and bravery. In the town of Jackson, Mississippi, circa 1962, a woman known simply as Skeeter notices the unfairness of the treatment of her friend’s maids. Being the journalist she is, she, with the help of these maids, writes a book about the way the employers treat their help.
Rather than having this show filled with big numbers, I think a bunch of soft numbers to express thoughts and emotions would be better. While it would be a musical comedy, it would still have many touching moments including ones of fear and suspense, making it quite versatile. I picture Minny (a maid that provides comic relief) as someone who would come in after a deep moment and belt out a soulful, gospel song about what she did to Miss Hilly (Minnys ex-employer) to get her revenge for being wrongfully fired. Stuart (Skeeter’s love interest) should have a bigger role in the theater adaptation, maybe even belting a love ballad.
If I could cast this show, I’d have Celia Keenan-Bolger (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as Skeeter. Miss Keenan-Bolger has the perfect voice for the heroine. She can be quiet and timid when speaking with her over bearing mother and the antagonist, Hilly. But when she starts to get to her feet, she can belt notes that will chill your bones! Aibileen (the main maid who writes a good portion of the book) should be played by Cicely Tyson (The Trip to Bountiful). She is known for playing Constantine in the film version of “The Help” but I think she would make a strong Aibileen. Hilly should be portrayed by Megan Hilty (9 to 5) and Stuart should be played by Jeremy Jordan (Newsies). This would create a powerful, all-star cast that would rock the house!
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In 1922 Nick Carraway moves to Long Island, across the bay from his cousin, Daisy. He becomes extremely intrigued with his mysterious neighbor, who lives next door and throws parties every weekend. The neighbor, Gatsby, becomes even more mysterious as he learns more about him, even after meeting the man. He soon becomes involved in the mans life and learns the secrets of J. Gatsby.
This book has so much symbolism and so many hidden themes and agendas that it seems it’s only inevitable that it’ll end up on stage. (In fact, two different productions have been written, it just hasn’t made it to NYC yet.) Can’t you imagine the huge party scenes? There would be big dance numbers, maybe even tapping, and a big band type orchestra! The costumes would be bright, colorful, and sparkly! The lighting would be pulsing and energetic, as well as the orchestrations. Flappers and gangsters and booze, oh my! Even the intimate scenes would have energy about them that would bring the house down. It’d be the next big musical!
Nick Carraway should be the magnificent Aaron Tveit (Next to Normal) who has the voice of the angel. He should be watching for Gatsby, played by none other than Christian Borle (Legally Blonde: The Musical). Tveit has an innocence to him that seems perfect for Carraway before he meets Gatsby. And, as we all know from his performance in Next to Normal as Gabe, he can play serious very well. Borle, on the other hand, can do serious with a light side behind him. He can easily be mysterious and friendly all at once. Daisy, the beautiful love interest, should be the gorgeous Laura Osnes (Cinderella). Daisy needs to be innocent, pure, and a gem–all of which Laura is in real life. With this cast, this show would win every Tony award out there.
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Okay, face it; we all knew this one was coming. This book has been the talk of the town since it got the attention of, well, everyone! With a new movie coming out on June 6, 2014 and it being #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List for 7 consecutive weeks, its only right that it has been getting a lot of attention. It focuses on 16-year-old cancer patient, Hazel Grace Lancaster, who meets Augustus Waters at a support group her mother forces her to attend. They both embark on an international journey to answer questions regarding the ending of a book. And of course, they can’t help but fall in love.
This musical would be serious and a tearjerker, just like the book. Heart warming songs would glide and transition the scenes, progressing the story. The set could be simple or extravagant, depicting Amsterdam with a city backdrop or with a bunch of storefront pieces. The costumes would be simple. They would wear typical everyday clothes, like a teenager would wear. It should be a subtle show, really focusing on the story and theme rather than snappy dance numbers.
The casting for this one is too easy. Sarcastic Hazel Grace should be played by the wonderful Jennifer Damiano (Next to Normal). Her Gus should be Corey Cott (Newsies). Santino Fontana (Cinderella) would be the perfect Patrick! Patrick is the leader of the support group who talks about the same things over and over. He’s funny, he can be serious, and he’s the perfect age for Patrick. I’d kill to see this show. Can Santino lead the introduction to the support group?