Thursday, November 13, 2014


When Hollywood Goes to Broadway

URI Theatre | By Sergio Suhett

Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds in the 1952 film version of Singin' in the Rain

Ever since 1929, when the first all-talking, all-singing movie musical, The Broadway Melody, won an Oscar as Best Picture of the year, the Broadway stage has provided the source material for many of Hollywood’s greatest musical films. In fact, most of the movie musicals to win Best Picture since then, including West Side Story (1961), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), and Chicago (2002), were based upon hits from the Broadway stage. The last few decades, however, have seen a reversal of this trend.

Andrew Burnap as Don Lockwood
In 1973, the Broadway adaptation of the 1958 film Gigi was one of the first to be based on an original film musical. Although that show was considered to be a flop, the 1980 staging of the 1933 film 42nd Street was a smash hit. In recent years the practice has become much more common, with The Lion King (1997) winning the Tony as Best Musical, and the Hollywood-to-Broadway productions Beauty and the Beast (1994), Thoroughly Modern Millie (2002), Mary Poppins (2006), Xanadu (2007), Newsies (2012), and Aladdin (2014), all receiving nominations.

Andrew Burbap as Don Lockwood  and Shannon Hartman as Kathy Selden
Released in 1952, Singin’ in the Rain is undoubtedly one of the most beloved movie musicals of all time. The film’s love story between movie star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) takes place against a backdrop of the American cinema’s transition from silent films to talking pictures in 1927. All of the songs were taken from the period being depicted, and the most famous number is Kelly’s performance of the title tune, delivered on a city street in the midst of a downpour.

Andrew Burnap (Don Lockwood) and Shannon Hartman (Kathy Selden)

It was probably inevitable that Singin’ in the Rain should have been adapted for the stage, and in 1983, it debuted on London’s West End. A Broadway production followed in 1985. URI Theatre brought Singin’ in the Rain to the stage of the Robert E. Will Theatre in the URI Fine Arts Center in April of 2012.

Andre Burnap (Don Lockwood) 
Director Paula McGlasson (who is also the director of URI Theatre’s latest musical production, Avenue Q) articulated at the time some of the challenges of reimagining a classic movie musical for the stage, challenges that have become standard on today’s Broadway. “You know that you’re dealing with something that many, many people hold near and dear…They have iconic moments that they remember…so you have to give them something unique to keep them interested. Still being very truthful to the story, but just bringing it back to life for them.”

Singin' in the Rain URI Theatre Official Promo Video

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