"A Chorus Line" to "Dreamgirls": How Musicals Changed From the Stage to the Screen

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28 Jun 2014

John Cameron Mitchell in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
John Cameron Mitchell in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"

Playbill.com correspondent Ben Rimalower offers a collection of ten musicals that were changed, for better or for worse, when adapted into movies.


In a scene added for the movie version of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," written and directed by stage scribe and star John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig confronts Tommy Gnosis about messing up the lyrics to a song they wrote together on Gnosis's recording of the song, saying, "We had one version and you [expletive] it up."

While I doubt anyone would say that of Mitchell's adaptation, the sentiment represents a common feeling when cherished works of live performance are permanently recorded (as in movie versions of shows) that the stakes are high to get it right. This is particularly treacherous with movies of stage musicals, as it's necessary to make adjustments in order for a piece to work in the new medium, but every creative choice has infinite capacity to go wrong.

Of course, there's no pleasing everyone and certain things will forever be a matter of opinion. Still, over time, I suppose we hold certain truths to be self-evident. When it was recently reported that Disney's forthcoming film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods would not include the song "Any Moment," there was such an uproar online that Sondheim himself was moved to release a statement correcting the rumor, clarifying (and assuring fans) that the song will, in fact, be in the movie. I guess right and wrong do matter in the woods.

Click through to read my selections for some of the most altered movie adaptations of stage musicals.


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