Last week, Clint Eastwood’s big screen adaptation of Jersey Boys became the latest in a long line of movie adaptations of stage hits – a grand old Hollywood tradition of turning stage triumphs into movie blockbusters. Recently though, the tide has turned – in this multi-media age, big movie adaptations seem to dominate the West End, as theatre looks to capitalise on the success and existing popularity of these wonderful stories. With so many attractive shows on stage this year, we take a look at the top 5 best screen to stage adaptations to see this summer.
1. Shakespeare in Love
Adapted from the Oscar-winning film of 1998, Shakespeare in Love promises to be a titanic production when it hits the stage this summer. The show offers the sweeping romance, sharp wit and beautiful language of Shakespeare, packaged in a story which turns the focus onto the man himself, his fascinating life and loves.
A play with music – if not a musical per se – this comic story has a real verve, leant by the adaptation by Lee Hall (writer of Billy Elliot) of Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman’s original screenplay. Produced by Disney, whose stage triumphs include the enduring West End classic Lion King, the show is helmed by the creative team of Cheek by Jowl – one of the foremost producers of Shakespearean drama in the world, known for their incredible innovation and ability to scout out unknown acting talent.
2. Shrek The Musical, Leeds
It’s not all about the West End! Having had an extraordinarily successful run in London, the musical version of the animated hit is set to take residency at the Leeds Grand Theatre for three weeks this July and August. A firm family favourite, the stage version sees Shrek and Donkey take on the tyrannical Lord Farquaad in an effort to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona. The musical comedy captures the same spirit of the DreamWorks film, with terrific songs written just for the show, and the Shrek classic ‘I’m a Believer’ thrown in for good measure.
Adapted for the stage by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Lindsay Abaire – best known for Rabbit Hole and Good People – Shrek The Musical is a smart comedy, sure to engage adults and kids alike. After its run in Leeds, the show is set to tour the country, calling at Bristol, Nottingham, Manchester, Birmingham and many more locations too.
3. The Bodyguard
An absolutely iconic movie, released to a rapturous reception with a killer soundtrack to match in 1992, the biggest surprise is merely how long it took to come to the stage. Alexandra Burke has recently taken over the role of pop superstar Rachel Marron, who finds love with the Secret Service Agent assigned to protect her from an unknown stalker.
One of the most romantic stories to hit the West End, The Bodyguard has already proven to be something of a modern stage classic, and features many of the incredible songs made famous by Whitney Houston including ‘One Moment in Time’, ‘Saving All My Love’, ‘I Have Nothing’ and the show-stopping ‘I Will Always Love You’.
Something of a surprise package, the 2007 cult indie film Once hit the big-time when its beautiful song ‘Falling Slowly’ took home the Oscar for Best Song. All things considered, it found its way to the Broadway stage rather quickly after that, receiving rave reviews when it opened in 2012 and, perhaps more importantly, eight Tony Awards. The show has gone from strength to strength since, and it was recently announced that Ronan Keating will take the main role in the West End production from November.
A touching and unlikely romance that forms between two young musicians, Once is a story that deserves to be seen. With a terrific book by Enda Walsh and the music and lyrics by the film’s stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, this faithful adaptation is a big hit with an intimate feel about it.
5. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Based on the 1988 movie of the same name, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has received nothing but warm reviews since it first opened in the West End in April this year. Robert Lindsay stars in the suave role first filled by Michael Caine, and Rufus Hound takes on the slightly coarse Steve Martin role, the tricksters competing for the attention of a leggy blonde on the French Riviera and trying to out-do each other at every turn.
With fantastic, stagey musical numbers, a beautiful score and love songs that have a Golden Age of Hollywood charm, the show retains a filmic quality. The result is delightfully comedic and, at times, more than a bit zany – a good old-fashioned musical triumph.
Are you planning a trip to see a screen to stage adaptation this summer? Tell us what you’re off to see in the comments section below!