* Movie musicals fell out of fashion for many years. They started to plummet at the box office in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as mainstream pop culture moved away from showtunes, gravitating toward rock and roll. Broadway itself has struggled to assert its role in the world as it no longer generates the bulk of music heard on the radio. In some ways, Broadway music has become a genre unto itself, which can be limiting to the point of keeping Broadway music in a box, as in the 1980s, when British pop operas seemed to be the only kind of musical theatre that could find an audience.
Things may be edging toward coming full circle, at least to a certain extent, nowadays, when Broadway is opening up to musicals of all different genres and sources. And Broadway's profile is gaining prominence again thanks to the reinvigoration of singing in American day-to-day life, initially from such TV shows as "American Idol" and more recently, and significantly, from more theatre-focused TV shows like "Glee" and "Smash." This in tandem with the success of somewhat journeyman movie musicals like "Chicago" and "Dreamgirls" has opened up the possibility of many more movie musicals as film studios seek to reap more rewards out of Broadway. In the reconception for this new medium that necessarily happens — even if only subtly in the case of cinematic adaptions very faithful to their original source — there are often new songs needed.
Click through to read the Top 10 Songs Added To Movie Musicals Adapted From The Stage.
10. "Listen" from Dreamgirls
If you'd gone to high school with Beyonce and your school had done Dreamgirls, you'd no doubt have seen her give a flawless performance as Deena Jones. No disrespect to the brilliant original Broadway Deena, Sheryl Lee Ralph, but it's hard to imagine anyone more better suited to the role of Deena (which she played in the hit 2006 film version of Dreamgirls) than "Bey." As the show explores Deena's success over Effie, due in a large part to her more conventionally attractive looks and more commercial vocal style, Beyonce's presence on screen has the singular effect of conjuring her own stardom and embodying of those qualities. Her stardom being what is, though, necessitated the movie shifting focus to feature Deena more prominently and give the character more of an arc. Thus, we were treated to the gorgeous and powerful coming-into-one's-own anthem "Listen." Within the popular perspective that Dreamgirls is a veiled chronicle of the story of Diana Ross and the Supremes (with Deena as Miss Ross), "Listen" represents Ross's first Number One solo hit, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" as well as her later, more self-empowerment themed hits like "It's My Turn" and "I'm Coming Out."
9. "Hopelessly Devoted To You" from Grease
The mega-hit 1978 movie version of Broadway's Grease is somewhat anachronistic in that it keeps the action set in the 1950s as in the stage version, but freely embodies 1970s styles and sounds in its attitudes and in some of the additional music. Of course, this is most evident in the opening title song written by Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees and performed by Frankie Valli. Some may object to this dilution of the original Grease, but zillions of fans disagree. Perhaps the moment in the movie that most seamlessly integrates the new and old elements is Olivia Newton-John's crystal clear rendition of the ballad "Hopelessly Devoted to You," written for the film by John Farrar, who penned many of her pop recordings. If the sound of this song is not exactly a 1950s pastiche, Newton-John's pure heart and voice evoke a fantasy of the wholesome simplicity that era was supposed to represent. At the same time, the song soars in a post-rock 'n' roll fashion suitable to electrify every generation.
8. "I Will Always Love You" from The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas
When Universal Pictures adapted the Broadway hit The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas into a film starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, they made relatively few changes other than strengthening the relationship between the two central characters (at least in the creative team's eyes). In the movie, Parton's Mona bids a an emotional goodbye to Reynolds's Ed Earl via Parton's own earlier hit, "I Will Always Love You." For those only familiar with Whitney Houston's later record-breaking, earth-shattering recording, it's a pleasure of another kind to experience Parton's take on the song, which is decidedly Dolly and a reminder of what a terrific and underused film presence she has been.
7. "Better Than A Dream" from Bells Are Ringing
During the original Broadway run of the Jule Styne-Betty Comden and Adolph Green musical comedy Bells Are Ringing, the dynamic duet "Better Than A Dream" was added for the incomparable star Judy Holliday and her leading man. (It's unclear if this happened while original co-star Sydney Chaplin was still in the show. Does anyone know?) When time came to shoot the 1960 film adaption, the new song was included, and this crowd pleaser (in a score of winners) was added to future revivals.
6. "You Must Love Me" from Evita
Was "You Must Love Me" added to Alan Parker's 1996 film of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's seminal international hit musical Evita to have an original song eligible for the Academy Award or was it added to make Madonna's portrayal of the fascist dictator more sympathetic? The song did win the 1997 Oscar for Best Original Song, and many adjustments were made to the text of the original stage show to make Eva more sympathetic in the movie. Perhaps it's a little of both. Regardless, the song, specially crafted for Madonna's voice, offers a recording of possibly the best vocals in Madonna's career, and even if you think it's a wrong turn for the film, you might enjoy giving it a whirl in karaoke.
5. "Beautiful City" from Godspell
Perhaps to utilize the spectacularly gritty backdrop of 1970s New York (albeit in a somewhat sanitized-for-the-cinema condition), the flop 1973 screen version of long-running Off-Broadway hit Godspell added an original song written for the film, "Beautiful City." Stephen Schwartz's appealing and touching composition was a welcome reference to the city that was essentially a main character in the movie. Subsequent productions of the musical have often included the song, sometimes in different arrangements, (as a solo, or a ballad) and it has even been performed out of context, as in the late, great Laurie Beechman's stirring version on her album "No One Is Alone."
4. "Bye Bye Birdie" from Bye Bye Birdie
The film version of Broadway hit Bye Bye Birdie wisely shifted focus slightly away from the adult characters, perhaps only to accommodate the casting of then up-and-coming star Ann-Margret. The result, though, is a movie even more in tune with the rise of youth culture and the sexual revolution. Perhaps target audiences wouldn't have responded as favorably to the film opening as the stage show had with a old maid's ballad ("never trust anyone over 30"), but Ann-Margret's bewitching performance of the title song written to open the film elicited few complaints.
3. "Just Leave Everything To Me" from Hello, Dolly!
Jerry Herman wrote Hello, Dolly! with Ethel Merman in mind, but you wouldn't guess it listening to Carol Channing's indelible original cast recording. There are few performers as distinctive as Channing, particularly in this role which suited her to a T. Herman has said that every actress who played Dolly during the show's long Broadway run brought her own special something to the part, and this is certainly audible on Pearl Bailey's cast recording. Herman even added additional songs to make most of the national treasure Merman's voice when she took over in the part for the show's final months on Broadway. But the greatest changes were made to tailor the role for the sui generis Barbra Stresiand in the movie version of Hello, Dolly! There was nothing wrong with delightful original character number "I Put My Hand In," but Streisand's effervescent performance of original tune, "Just Leave Everything To Me" kickstarts the film with invigorating voltage.
2. "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's mammoth Broadway hit, The Sound of Music, ran into some difficulties on the road to becoming the unparalleled cinematic success it eventually became. Hammerstein had died and Rodgers was writing both music and lyrics for the two original songs being added to the film. Of those, everyone was happy with the ballad "Something Good," but there was frustration with his drafts of a sort of reverse "I want" song being given to Maria, "I Have Confidence." Associate producer Saul Chaplin (an influential musical director and arranger behind many major movie musicals) eventually wrote a new version of "I Have Confidence" based on and inspired by Rodgers's attempts and incorporating the music to the verse of the song "The Sound Of Music" not otherwise heard in the film. (The song remained credited to Rodgers.) Chaplin details this behind-the-scenes saga in his fascinating book, "The Golden Age of Movie Musicals and Me." His work preserving the Rodgers feel of the song was spot on and the result is a high point in the movie.
1. "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret
John Kander and Fred Ebb didn't write "Maybe This Time" for the film adaptation of Cabaret (or for Cabaret at all) nor did they write it for Liza Minnelli, although she sang it in concert and on albums prior to performing it in the film. Nonetheless, Minnelli's peerless rendition in Bob Fosse's 1972 masterpiece "Cabaret" movie is the ideal realization of their creation. Her idiosyncratic voice is just hitting its peak, and gloriously, as she sings. There's not one false note as she so wholly embodies the character of Sally Bowles in her desperate neediness and zealous ambition. It's a perfect moment in Fosse's film, but it doesn't work all that well in stage versions. Productions keep adding it, though, because it's such a great song and no one is ever sad to hear it.
(Ben Rimalower is the author and original star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues, currently on a worldwide tour. His new solo play, Bad with Money, begins performances Sept. 4 at The Duplex in NYC. Read Playbill's coverage of the show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)