In the early 2000’s we were seeing the reemergence of musicals turned motion pictures. With the release of Chicago in 2002 followed by Phantom of the Opera in 2004 and The Producers in 2005, the fad continued to develop. This year, Rock of Ages and Les Misérables are added to the mix having been preceded by others including Sweeney Todd, Mamma Mia, RENT and Hairspray.
Putting musicals in films featuring actors and actresses that everyone knows and loves certainly makes it easier for the audience to connect to. And it certainly can’t hurt that it is presented in a standard form of entertainment that the general audience accepts: motion pictures. But I can’t help but think of the original productions; how they were specifically written for live performances, how they required a certain level of talent and energy to sing and act for extended periods of time, and how each performance was uniquely different every time.
When a musical becomes a film, does it lose any part of its artistic integrity? At the same time, are we limiting audiences for those who practice the live art form as the audience member can simply pick up their remote for their nightly entertainment? Or are we bringing the musical’s initial intentions to more people by expanding the potential viewers to mainstream audiences?
I don’t really have the answers, but it’s something that I ponder from time to time when I see these films being released. Either way, I am still excited for the film to come out as I’m sure it will be tastefully done and will provide great entertainment for all. I’m still waiting for the day when someone turns La Bohème into a motion picture! I wonder who would play Mimì…
Did you know that Encore Tours provides musical tours where you can visit these shows and others live in the theatre?
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