In honor of the first anniversary of Medea: The Musical running San Francisco, Playbill On-Line asked you to suggest other straight plays -- the more unlikely the better -- that you think would make good musicals. We also asked for proposed song titles from the musical.
Here is a sampling of the results:
From Richard Wong:
Oedipus Rex (or When A Man Loves A Woman [who happens to be his mother])
"I Only Have Eyes For You"
"I Remember Mama"
"A Babe In His Mother's Arms"
The Ten Commandments (or Lust! Amour! Indiscretion! or Sweet Chastity)
"Seven Deadly Sins Are Fine, but We've Got Ten!"
"Take Two Tablets and Call Me In The Morning" Stalin, The Musical Mini-Series (or One Guy Named Joe or Travels With My Uncle (Joe) or Swinging on a (Red) Star or The Piano (Wire) Lesson)
"Get Me To The Purge On Time" (sung to the tune of "Get Me To The Church On Time")
"I Dismember You" (sung to the tune of "I Remember You")
"How Do You Solve A Problem Like Beria?" (sung to the tune "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria")
"You'll Never Walk Alone (especially with a KGB agent on your tail)"
"(Red) Satin Doll"
"Georgia On My Mind"
A Tale of Two Cities (or Defarge's Greatest Hits)
"My Funny Guillotine" (sung to the tune of "My Funny Valentine")
"You Go To My Head"
"Into the Hoods"
"Look For The Silver (Basket) Lining"
"The Last Time I Saw Paris"
Mary, Queen of Scots (or It's A Blunderful Life or The Queen and I or The Rose Taboo)
"It's Not Easy Being Queen"
"Don't Cry For Me Great Britannia"
"Queen For A Day"
"Once On This Island"
"A Tisket, A Tasket (My Head Is In The Basket)"
From Dennis A. Rendleman:
As a high school English project, I wrote Musical Macbeth, or How to Succeed as King if You Don't Mind Dying
It opened with the footsoldiers update of the battle set to the Hungarian Rhapsody---"As Sparrow's eagles or the plain, da da da..."
Then the three witches to the tune of Day by Day (Godspell)...
"Oh, Macbeth, three things we say,
Though art thane of caldor
though art than of gloumes
though art king forever,
these things we say"
(forgive spellings, I haven't my Shakespeare w/ me.
For the murder of the King, to the tune of the Beatles, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer":
"Stab, Stab, Macbeth's silver dagger came down upon his chest,
stab, stab, Macbeth's silver dagger made sure that he was dead."
Lady Macbeth's "damn spot" song, to the tune of "the Look of Love"
"The stain of blood, is on, my hand
A stain I can't wash away..."
MacDuff Kills Macbeath to the tune of "Herod's Song" from Jesus Christ Superstar: "Oh, so, this is Macbeth, you're the great King Macbeth..."
Somewhere, the original cassette exists, but I haven't seen (or heard) if for years. But the project got an A . . .
From Bob Fisher:
Billy Budd, the Musical: GOODBYE, SAILOR!
Macbeth, the Musical: FOREVER PLAID (I don't care that it's already taken)
My Friend, Flicka - the Musical: FILLIE FOLLIES
From Dan Kochanowicz:
Here's an idea for a musical I've had since about 1980--WORKIN' MIRACLES! Based on the hit play THE MIRACLE WORKER by William Gibson, I envisioned a production which would star Sandy Duncan as Anne Sullivan and Andrea McArdle as Hellen Keller with a big, brassy score by either Charles Strouse or Cy Coleman. The play script already reads like a musical book, with many opportunities for numbers:
"Acute Child"--Kate Keller's sweet lullaby to Helen which turns dramatic when she realizes that Helen is blind and deaf.
"Helen Around the House"--the Keller family, along with Vinnie the maid, bemoans life with Helen--a comedy song
"We Don't Want to See You Go"--A song and dance number for the blind girls as they say good-bye to Anne at the train station.
"You Bit Off More Cake Than You Can Chew"--James playfully teases (and flirts) with Anne.
"The Dinner"--Modern dance number for Anne and Helen as they struggle over the fork and napkin.
"Workin' Miracles!"--The title song is performed by Anne when Kate becomes discouraged by Helen's lack of progress. The song builds to a rousing dance number as Anne and Kate are joined by Vinnie and Percy and the other servants.
"Jimmy, Jimmy"--Anne's recollection of her dead brother--a ballad.
"You Can Have Your Cake (And Spell It, Too!)--comedy number with Anne and Percy as they try to teach Helen how to sign.
"How Can I Teach Her to Spell Love?"--Anne's first act closing ballad.
"They Don't Pay Me Enough" opens the second act--a comedy number sung by Vinnie.
"Why Can't She See?"--James sings of his unrequited affection for Anne.
"C-I-R-C-U-S"--the big production number. A travelling circus and its performers provide the setting as Anne tries one last desperate attempt to teach Helen the connection between signing words and their meanings.
"The State Home for Women Dream Ballet"--Anne is transported back in time to relive the horrors she and her brother suffered as children.
"Very Good, Helen!"--the family sings praises of Helen's new dinner table manners just as she slowly begins once again to test their tolerance.
"Reach Those Fingers Up to Heaven"--Vinnie encourages the down-spirited Anne with this soul stirring gospel number.
"Wah!"--Helen sings at last. This number segues into...
"She Knows!"--Anne sings triumphantly as Helen demands to know the words for everything in sight.
"The Key to My Heart"--the closing number in which Anne and Helen sing a duet of their love for each other.
As you can see, WORKIN MIRACLES! pretty much covers all the bases required of a musical while also expanding upon the original play by creating a love interest for Anne in James. While Sandy Duncan might be a little old for the part nowadays, I think she might still be able to pull it off. Add Daisy Eagan as Helen and Lynn Thigpen as Vinnie and I'm sure you'ld have a sure fire hit on your hands!
From Brad Baker:
Wow! I had this very assignment as a sophomore student in college 150 years ago... what play would make a great musical? The answer: William Saroyan's THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE. Great colorful characters, seedy bar setting, country vs. street vs. elite ideologies/dress/behavior/etc. At its essence, the play is a love story (allowing for the inevitable ballads), yet featuring piano player and tap dancer characters (upbeat numbers), and the wise old sage bartender (who gets to sing, of course, the 11th hour "message" song about tolerance and unity). But my favorite number in the piece is certainly gunslinger Kit Carson's solo; recalling the numerous bad guys he's gunned down... all while riding a white horse around the bar. This one ought to rival the entrance of that elephant in JUMBO!
From: Robert Levy:
Jean Anouilh's The Lark not a cheesy musical like Goodtime Charley. Title: Hark, Hark, a Lark! or if a British adaptation, JOAN!.
Some songs: "Everybody Ought to Burn a Maid"
"I Hear Voices and there's no one there"
"Why Can't the English.."
Another unlikely adaptation would be Hamlet as a flashy overloud rock musical. . . but that's already been done.
From Kim W. Rinabarger:
This was not a stage play but I think a good musical could be developed from the 1970 film, Something For Everyone, that starred Angela Lansbury and Michael York. Though not a play, it was written by Hugh Wheeler (adapted from a book, "The Cook" by Harry Kressing) and directed by Hal Prince--two well-known theatrical people.
I'm sure you've probably seen this film--Angela plays a countess fallen on hard times and can't afford to keep her castle open and Michael York plays someone who'll do anything (and anyone) to further his ambitions. The film source would offer good individual songs and also group songs (the beer garden where York meets the footman--and later gets rid of--and the ceremony when the castle is reopened.)
The Countess could sing one song, "The Life I'd Used To Know" about what life was like when the castle was open and she was much wealthier. Each of the main characters could sing a variation of a song, "Where I Want To Be" that unmasks each's ambition--the countess restored to her past glory, the gay son wanting to be with York, the daughter in control of the events, York using seduction and murder to ultimately live in the castle. The husband and wife whose daughter is to marry the Countess' son could sing a song about "Opportunities" -- their money being used to reopen the castle and are buying their way into nobility.
I guess because Angela Lansbury and Hal Prince were connected to this project (before they were to do "Sweeney Todd" together,) I thought "Something For Everyone" would also have made an interesting musical.