Bring Wicked to the Big Screen!
By: Jeremey Gingrich
Alright, let’s just get this out in the open so everybody knows: I like musicals. There, I said it. I get to New York City every once in a while and it’s a foregone conclusion that I will see a Broadway musical. In fact, Hollywood has used such musicals to create some genuine movie classics, especially the musicals of yesteryear. From the ridiculously choreographed basketball court scene at the beginning of WEST SIDE STORY, to Marlon Brando singing in GUYS AND DOLLS, to Bing Crosby and Sinatra dancing to Louis Armstrong songs in HIGH SOCIETY, these are all scenes that use Broadway musicals to provide a truly enjoyable movie-going experience. And I don’t think I should have to apologize for liking that! Sorry, I’ve taken some flak from the other guys on the site for this article, I didn’t mean to yell. But Hollywood has fueled a resurgence of these song and dance favorites in recent years, to include a Best Picture Academy Award winner in 2002’s CHICAGO, to commercial successes in 2007’s HAIRSPRAY and the worldwide box office juggernaut that was MAMMA MIA!. And the latter did so despite a magnificently horrible singing performance by Pierce Brosnan (sorry, Thomas Crown, a singer you ain’t).
So, piggybacking off of this trend of bringing more current Broadway musicals to the big screen, I suggest the next adaptation be one that finds its roots in the 1939 silver screen classic THE WIZARD OF OZ, the smash musical “Wicked.” This global phenomenon has won countless theatrical awards, including three Tony Awards in 2004. It has been named by Entertainment Weekly as this decade’s Best Stage Musical. It has broken numerous box office records in its openings in Chicago, San Francisco and London, and it has even blown away packed audiences as far away as Germany, Japan and Australia. And it is the highest weekly grossing Broadway Musical in the history of the Great White Way. Tell me that wouldn’t put asses in the seats should this mammoth success become a movie.
The story, for those who haven’t been among the record crowds for this event, involves a different take on the Wicked Witch of the West from the original THE WIZARD OF OZ, and mostly focuses on the events that occurred before Dorothy’s house flew in and crushed the witch’s sister. It’s a plot that plays on modern themes as well as a classic friendship tale between two girls; the one an outcast, the other the most popular girl…ever, in her mind. Since the music in this play has been so pivotal to its success, for casting I’d suggest bringing back the original cast from the Platinum selling soundtrack: Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Joel Grey (still alive, by the way) and Norbert Leo Butz (yes, his real name). The soundtrack did after all win the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album back in 2005, and the songs have made a resurgence thanks to the hit single “Defying Gravity” being performed on “Glee” in its first season.
Basically, all the ingredients are there. This is a ready-made hit, with guaranteed blockbuster and maybe even critical success if done right. So before they start to green light something like another HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, maybe Hollywood should try to bring this tale of a misunderstood green girl to the big screen. And no, just to reiterate, there is nothing wrong with a grown man liking musicals…except the Streisand ones. I mean, really, come on.