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Can Musicals Transfer to the Screen Effectively?

Into the Woods, The Last Five Years, Les Miserables, Rent: in the past few years alone, there have been multiple movie musicals released, often with mixed receptions. Is it possible for musicals to move from the stage to the screen and still retain their magic? What might some challenges be? (i.e. target audience; musical fans perhaps disliking casting when people who are not traditionally "singers" are cast – think Hollywood actors rather than Broadway, cutting songs for the sake of time, sound editing causing the magic of a live performance to be lost, etc.)

  • Sweeney Todd could also be discussed, since Johnny Depp isn't traditionally a singer, and his delivery is different and not as robust than, say, George Hearn, though arguably the vibrato may not be as necessary on film than it is on a stage. – Emily Deibler 5 years ago
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  • It is definitely difficult for musicals to transfer to film. Often times I would agree that it is a failure and mainly because the people that are heavily critiquing the film may have seem the Broadway version and it is impossible to emote the same feelings that are created when watching a musical live onto the screen. However, when I first saw Chicago the film, I think they did a phenomenal job with it and it may be because they kept some of the songs to maintain that live theater feeling in the way it was choreographed and presented. – Naomster7 5 years ago
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  • The struggle with musicals being transferred to film is that the excitement and raw talent that is present in live theater has been cut. It is just another film with singing and dancing in it and the awe of the story being performed live has died. However, the film Chicago, did a fantastic job of recreating the scenes and musical numbers as they would have appeared while viewing them in Broadway. The film was able to portray all of the talent that goes in to live theater. I think another to consider as well with this topic, is the concept of if musicals designed for film can be transferred to Broadway? – Naomster7 5 years ago
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  • Good topic! Although there are a couple of musical movies I enjoyed, I think musical should remain in the stage, with live performances and audience. Using famous actors who have zero musical talent just takes the magic away from it for sure. – Nilab Ferozan 5 years ago
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  • I think, as most have stated here, the biggest problem here is the reliance on "big name" actors, as opposed to truly gifted signers who are truly broadway stars. Yet, with that being said. A broadway actor is an actor, but there is a different format of stage acting that takes place that does not always translate well through cinema. This is kind of an odd catch-22. Overtime these beloved musical become cinematic adaptations, we, the audience, typically seem to be left disappointed. My favorite musicals are the ones from the 40's and 50's, when the amalgam between film and musical was a natural genre. – danielle577 5 years ago
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