Musicals Blog

Successful Musical Plays to Successful Movies

This week's theme is "Successful Plays to Successful Movies." I'll be comparing seven highly successful Broadway musicals with their equally successful movie versions. The plays and movies I'll be discussing are "West Side Story," "My Fair Lady," "The Sound of Music," "Oliver," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Cabaret," and "Chicago." All of the seven musicals were nominated for the Tony award for Best Musical and the Academy Award for Best Picture and each won at least one of the two awards. Two of the musicals, "My Fair Lady" and "The Sound of Music," won both awards. [read more ...]

West Side Story (1961)

The movie version of "West Side Story" won a record number of Academy Awards (10), but, surprisingly, the play did not win the Tony award for Best Musical (it lost to "The Music Man"). The play opened in 1957 and it ran for almost two years. None of the lead performers from the play appeared in the movie but several of the performers who played smaller parts recreated their roles or played similar parts in the movie. For example, Tony Mordente played a Jet, A-Rab, in the play and then later played a different Jet, Action, in the film version of "West Side Story." [read more ...]

My Fair Lady (1964)

Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's "My Fair Lady" is one of only two Tony winning Best Musicals to also become an Academy Award winning Best Picture. The play ran on Broadway for six and a half years and it has had three Broadway revivals since it ended its first run in 1962. Both the book of the play and the screenplay were written by Alan Jay Lerner. [read more ...]

The Sound of Music (1965)

"The Sound of Music" was the only Rodgers and Hammerstein movie musical to win an Academy Award even though they have had more movies made from their plays than any other composers. Surprisingly, one of their best and most-loved musicals, "Oklahoma," did not win a Tony award or an Academy Award. [read more ...]

Oliver (1968)

"Oliver," although an Academy Award winner for Best Picture and Best Director (Carol Reed), did not win similar Tony awards but it was nominated for Best Musical (it lost to "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"). The excellent music score of "Oliver" won a Tony award for the composer and lyricist, Lionel Bart, and an Academy Award for the film's musical arranger, Johnny Green. Overall, "Oliver" won 3 Tony awards out of 10 nominations and 5 Academy Awards out of 11 nominations. In addition, Onna White won an Honorary Academy Award for her choreography of the film version. [read more ...]

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

The original Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof" won 9 Tony awards, but, surprisingly, the excellent move version only won 3 relatively minor Academy Awards, although it was nominated for 8 Oscars, including nominations for Best Picture and Best Director (Norman Jewison). The original version of "Fiddler on the Roof" was still playing on Broadway when the film was released in 1971 and a year later the play received a special Tony award for becoming the longest running Broadway musical. It closed on Broadway on July 2, 1972, after 8 years (3,242 performances). [read more ...]

Cabaret (1972)

Although "Cabaret" was a very successful play, winning 6 Tony awards out of 10 nominations, and a highly successful movie, winning 10 Academy Awards out of 12 nominations, the two versions differed significantly, both in plot and songs. In the original play, the female lead, Sally Bowles, was English but in the film she was American, probably to better fit the role to the movie's star, Liza Minnelli. As a balance to the play, the male lead was switched from the American Cliff Bradshaw to the British Brian Roberts in the movie version. The second romantic leads were changed in the movie from the play's old Jewish man (played by Jack Gilford) and his German love interest (played by Lotte Lenya) to a young Jewish socialite and a young Jewish gigolo who, at first, hides his Jewishness. [read more ...]

Chicago (2002)

Although "Chicago" was a hit musical play in 1975, playing on Broadway for 2 years, it was not made into a movie musical until 25 years later, after a second highly successful run on Broadway. In fact, the movie version of "Chicago" was based on the 1996 revival rather than on the original 1975 play. [read more ...]