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Calabasas Courier Online

-22855 Mulholland Hwy. Calabasas, CA 91302-

Calabasas Courier Online

Opinion: Not everything should be a musical

Opinion%3A+Not+everything+should+be+a+musical
Caitlin Brockenbrow

Around 534 B.C., the Greek poet Thespis became the first actor. While there were songs in many of the plays of Ancient Greece, it was about 2,400 years later that the first modern idea of a musical hit the stage with Charles M. Barras’ The Black Crook. Now, in the 21st century, it seems that everything is being adapted into a musical.

Take Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl’s original novel was published in 1964 with a movie musical produced less than ten years later. Since then, there has been a second movie musical, an operatic adaptation, a stage musical and most recently Wonka, a prequel movie musical, just to name a few. Practically all of these are beloved, but the same success can not be seen with all such adaptations. The most recent example of this was Mean Girls, which started as a 2004 movie, then was adapted into a stage musical in 2018 and back into a movie musical in 2024. This second movie is where the criticism lies, with many taking fault with the costuming and soundtrack. One of the biggest Broadway flops of all time, after all, was Carrie, based on Stephen King’s novel and the movie adaptation of the same name, which only ran for five regular performances. But why does it seem like everything is being thrown into the theater?

The reason behind this is simple enough: money. Take an already-written story with a pre-existing fan base, adapt it to the stage, add some songs and presto, you have a musical that everyone is already excited about. Such is true of other mediums as well, with practically everything getting a T.V. show, sequel or video game if it makes so much as a dollar. This process can be quite simple, even more so if the adaptation is a jukebox musical, leading to the overwhelming number of soulless productions littering stages today.

A large number of these musicals are based on books and movies, with recent inclusions being The Outsiders: A New Musical, The Great Gatsby and Back to the Future: The Musical. Art is incredibly subjective, and these musicals could very well be someone’s favorite, but when given the option to create something new or adapt something that already exists, the decision should always be to do the former. However, if someone is making a musical out of a pre-existing story, it needs to be done with passion, not with the sole purpose of making money.

Many of the greatest musicals of all time were based on something else. There’s Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera, both of which were based on books, as well as more recent examples like Beetlejuice and Heathers: The Musical, both adapted from non-musical movies. The reason these four, especially Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera as many consider them the best shows to ever hit the stage, are widely adored, despite not being original, is that it is evident how much care and respect was put into the adaptations. 

With the way content is being made into musicals today, it feels as though producers are simply throwing a dart at a bookshelf or movie cart and going from there. Not everything should be a musical, and if it is being made into a musical, it needs to be done with love.

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Caitlin Brockenbrow, Perspectives Editor
Hi! My name is Caitlin Brockenbrow, and I'm the Perspectives editor this year. Last year I was a staff writer and before that, I was head editor of my middle school newspaper and magazine for two years. Apart from articles, in my free time, I write creatively—mainly murder mysteries. English has always been my favorite subject, but besides reading and writing, I love theater, typewriters and drinking root beer floats.
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