Big Screen to the Big Stage
By Carrie Law
You may have noticed when looking at the line-up of Broadway shows coming to ASU Gammage next season that almost all the titles are also major motion pictures. While for most the movie came first, we wanted to take a look at the similarities and differences between the production on the big screen and production on the big stage. This summer we’ve partnered with MADCAP Theaters on Mill Avenue to give you the chance to rediscover these shows on the screen before you see them live on stage at ASU Gammage. The movie screenings are FREE, and this past week, moviegoers enjoyed showings of the movies “Billy Elliot” and “Young Frankenstein.”
“Billy Elliot”, the Oscar-nominated film that hit the big screen in 2000, starred Jamie Bell as the young “Billy.” BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL was later brought to life by the movie’s original creative team – director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling and writer Lee Hall, along with music legend Elton John, when it made its world premiere in London in 2005. The plot and the setting are the same in both the movie and the musical: set during the UK miners' strike (1984–1985), the audience follows Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers his dream to dance.
Unlike the movie, BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL is split into two Acts and includes 16 musical numbers such as “Expressing Yourself,” “He Could Be a Star,” and “Electricity.” While the movie had one actor playing the role of young Billy, the demanding role on stage requires three young actors (who must also sing, dance, act and do acrobatics) to alternate who performs on stage each night.
You’ll notice a few other differences in the stage version versus the movie, such as in the where Billy’s father has a change of heart about his son’s love of dance and when Billy finds out his friend Michael has feelings for him. There are also some differences in the scene where Billy receives the letter about whether or not he made it into the dance school. I won’t spoil this part for you if you haven’t yet seen the movie or musical!
“Young Frankenstein” is the 1974 Mel Brooks smash-hit comedy we all know and love, starring Gene Wilder, but how was this black and white, tongue-in-cheek comedy adapted to play within the proscenium arch? Well for one thing, you can definitely expect to find audience members at the musical remembering many of the classic lines from the film before they’re even recited on stage. And you’ll notice many of the songs created for the musical are born out of the familiar dialogue from the movie, like “Please Don’t Touch Me,” “Roll in the Hay,” “He Vas My Boyfriend,” and of course, the musical wouldn’t be complete without the memorable “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Keep an eye out though, as there’s a new element added to the stage version that wasn’t in the movie, when the ghost of Frederick Frankenstein’s grandfather appears and urges him to join the family business!
The plot is largely carried over from the movie, but some scenes are expanded to musical numbers, and many gags have been added or updated. For example, in Act I of the musical, Frederick Frankenstein is ashamed to be a Frankenstein, insisting his name be pronounced "Fronkensteen" and that he is not a madman but
a scientist. Then, while he lectures his students about the greatest mind of science, he breaks into musical number "The Brain."
The main difference in the stage version of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN versus the movie comes toward the ending, which on stage includes an attempted hanging, an appearance from another Transylvania celebrity, and more!
Join us this coming Thursday and Friday evening at 6 p.m. at MADCAP Theaters for FREE showings of HAIR and MAMMA MIA! and let us know what you think will stay the same from the movie to the stage, and what new elements you predict might be added to the stage version.
Thursday, July 22 – 6 p.m. – HAIR
Friday, July 23 – 6 p.m. – MAMMA MIA!
730 S. Mill Avenue
Tempe, AZ 85281
**Movies to be shown in the Bookman’s theater.