Friday, October 9, 2015

Film vs. Broadway: A Look at 3 Favorite Stories

When a beloved book is turned into a movie, there are always people who love the adaptation and those who feel the story should have stayed on paper. The same is true for movies that are turned into Broadway shows; while many of our favorite classic stories translate well onto the live stage, there are limits to what the actors can do. To illustrate this point, check out the following popular movies and how — or if — they were able to translate onto the stage:


In 1992, Disney released "Aladdin" as its 31st animated film. The movie was an enormous hit with people of all ages, who loved the adaptation of the Arab folktale of “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.” The movie was filled with lively and catchy songs and great voice actors, including the late Robin Williams as the Genie. The movie has earned over $217 million in the United States and has won a number of awards.

In March of 2014, Disney Theatrical’s version of "Aladdin" opened on Broadway in the New Amsterdam Theatre. While there are some slight changes to the story, it’s close enough to the movie to please purists who want to see the animated version brought to life. All of the songs in the movie are in the Broadway version, as well as four new ones and three that were cut from the original movie. While Genie doesn’t change shapes like the animated version, actor James Monroe Iglehart has enough moxie combined with lighting and pyrotechnics to nail the character.


The Roald Dahl story of a brilliant little girl who learns how to deal with nasty parents and a terrifying principal has warmed our hearts in book and movie form for decades. The 1996 movie version of "Matilda" received positive reviews overall. Mara Wilson’s acting as the title role was spot on and Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman play her parents with clueless nastiness.

More recently, the Tony-Award winning "Matilda The Musical" delights sold-out audiences who find themselves rooting for this extraordinary young girl. In both the movie and theater version, the characters translate well from the book. However, the stage version seems more like a live comic strip at times.

Sister Act

Like "Aladdin," "Sister Act" also came out in theaters in 1992. The popular movie stars Whoopi Goldberg as a Reno lounge singer who has to disguise herself as a nun and hide out in a convent after seeing a murder.

The Broadway version of "Sister Act" is set in Philadelphia instead of San Francisco, but the overall story line is the same. What the stage version is noticeably missing, though, is the familiar songs, like "My Guy," that the nuns transform into hymn-worthy numbers. While the songs have been replaced with new numbers, audiences may find themselves missing the old standards. However, the Broadway version does include plenty of choral songs to keep audiences entertained, and the chemistry between the actors is apparent, making for a great show.