12 Movies That Should Be Stage Musicals

We are still in the midst of an incredibly fertile time for our art form, a period that started in the mid-1990s and is still going strong. I call it the New Golden Age.

Part of what's wonderful about our art form right now is the tons of new work being created all the time, both by established writers and teams, and by newcomers, both in New York and out across our country in regional theatres and small alternative companies.

New Line has produced several world premieres during our history, and we'd always love to find some more. And though entirely original musicals are awesome, many of our favorites are based on other sources -- Heathers, Rent, The Wild Party, American Idiot, Hands on a Hardbody, Night of the Living Dead, etc.

So here's a list of ten movies that I wish some really great writers would adapt for the musical stage. Most of these would make pretty fucked-up musicals, but there's nothing wrong with that...

And we'd produce all of them!

First on my list, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is one of my favorite movies of all time, a quirky, wild, bizarre, but totally straight-faced sci-fi-rock-comedy, centered on the rock singer / brain surgeon / crime fighter Buckaroo Banzai and his band the Hong Kong Cavaliers, with John Lithgow in an amazingly over-the-top performance as Dr. Emilio Lizardo, who's actually an alien. The awesome backstory here is that Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast wasn't actually fiction; it really happened. But in order to keep the alien invasion secret, they covered it up by pretending it was just a radio play. And now aliens from the Eighth Dimension are living among us! The guys who wrote Bat Boy really need to work on this...!

There are quite a few more on my list, but rather than try to explain why each of these quirky, wonderfully unique movies are cool and why they would make good musicals, I'm going to let them speak for themselves, through their trailers. Just imagine the possibilities...

And remember, the thing that makes a story ripe for musicalization is its emotional content. The more a story is centered on emotion, the better musical it will make, because music is the most powerful emotional language. But also remember, love isn't the only emotion...

Buckaroo Banzai

Phantom of the Paradise

Myra Breckinridge


Hamlet II

Valley of the Dolls

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

The Night That Panicked America

Wonder Boys

Cold Turkey

The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

A Guide for the Married Man

Whaddya think? I would love to see the writing teams behind Bat Boy, Urinetown, Bukowsical, Atomic, Night of the Living Dead, Cry-Baby, and Lizzie tackle some of these. Wouldn't you?

Long Live the Musical!