Musicals Blog

Plays that Did Not Become Movies

My theme for the next two weeks is "Hit Broadway Plays that Did Not Become Movies." Surprisingly, this list for the last 60 years has been relatively short, especially if TV productions are counted as films. In the 20 years from 1949 to 1969, only 4 Tony-winning plays were not made into movie musicals. Since 1970, the list is longer, but several of the plays in the last four decades have been broadcast on television or the Broadway or London versions have been recorded on tape and are now available on VHS or DVD.

Fiorello (1960)

"Fiorello" has the distinct honor of being only one of seven Broadway musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Yet, it has never been made into a movie and its only revival in New York was a limited run, concert format production for Encores at City Center in 1994.

"Fiorello" opened on Broadway in November, 1959 and it ran for 795 performances, closing in October, 1961. Tom Bosley, probably best known to most people as Richie Cunningham's father on "Happy Days," played the lead role of the New York City mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia. "Fiorello" is a loose interpretation of LaGuardia's political life in the 1920s. [read more ...]

Applause (1970)

Applause was a Tony-winning musical based on the classic movie All About Eve. The book was written by the experienced play and screenplay writing team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green and the score was written by Charles Strouse (composer) and Lee Adams (lyricist). Applause opened in March, 1970 and it played for 896 performances, closing in July, 1972. The stars of the play were Lauren Bacall, Len Cariou and Penny Fuller. [read more ...]

Big River (1985)

Big River," the musical play based on Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," played in regional theaters before making its way to Broadway. In February, 1984, "Big River" was performed at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The next performances were in June and July of 1984 at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California. [read more ...]

The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood," based on the unfinished novel of the same name by Charles Dickens, was a very unconventional musical. The play was the creation of Rupert Holmes who wrote the book and lyrics, composed the music and arranged the orchestrations for the production. What made "Drood" truly unique, however, was its ending, which was decided upon by each audience. Holmes wrote different possible endings and, at each performance, the audience voted on different aspects of the story to lead to a conclusion for the play. [read more ...]

City of Angels (1990)

It is surprising that "City of Angels," which is a parody of the movie industry, never became a film. The Tony award winner is a play within a play, with two parallel stories - the story of screenwriter Stine and the story of the screenplay he is writing about a detective named Stone. Except for the two male leads (Greg Edelman as Stine and James Naughton as Stone), the actors and actresses played two parts, a real-life character in author Stine's life and the counterpart character in Stine's screenplay. [read more ...]

Miss Saigon (1991)

Almost 10 years after the London premiere of their first hit, "Les Miserables," Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil saw their second major play open in London. Like its predecessor, "Miss Saigon" became a huge success, first in London, and then several years later on Broadway.

"Miss Saigon" opened on Broadway on April 11, 1991 and it closed almost 10 years later, after 4,092 performances. The Broadway production was followed by productions in at least 15 other countries in many different languages, including German, Polish, Swedish, and Japanese. [read more ...]