Now that “La La Land” has won the Oscar — oops, I mean almost won best picture, though it did win lots of others — the appetite for movie musicals has once again been established. Maybe. Although “La La Land” is an original, its popularity cannot help but open the pipeline between Hollywood and Broadway musicals. Again. Thus, a trend begins — at least until the next movie equivalent of “A Chorus Line” or “The Phantom of the Opera” takes a quick dive.
According to Whatsonstage.com, London fans have spotted Lin-Manuel Miranda, who apparently can do everything well and anything he pleases, which is very much indeed. There he is filming “Mary Poppins Returns,” definitely not the hip-hop sequel, starring Emily Blunt as the nanny to grown-up kids who still need a nanny. Miranda, creator-composer-star of a little show called “Hamilton,” plays her friend Jack. Unlike many of the optioned musicals, this one has a release date — Christmas 2018.
But before that — March 17, in fact — the live-action film “Beauty and the Beast” opens nationwide, with Emma Watson as Belle. Naturally, the new adaptation of the Broadway musical (which had been adapted from the animated movie) was in the works long before Emma Stone put on her dancing shoes.
But Bill Condon, “Dreamgirls” director and director of this Disney reboot, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the impact of “La La Land” will be “enormous . . . you hope it suggests the way for people to be open to the idea of musicals of all scale, sizes and genre.”
The long-awaited “Wicked” movie appears to be aiming for Christmas 2019. Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot”) will direct. Tom Hanks’ company plans to coproduce “Beautiful,” based on Broadway’s hit Carole King musical, and probably Green Day’s “American Idiot,” again with Billie Joe Armstrong as St. Jimmy. No dates for either of these.
Although Audra McDonald and Martha Plimpton are expected to be seen in a movie version of Michael John LaChiusa’s brilliantly erotic “Hello Again” later this year, release dates for the rest are in the wind. From the universe of British mega-musicals, this includes “Miss Saigon” and “Cats” — decades after I’m sure they were first reported to be in the 20th century pipeline. Whatsonstage.com reports that producer Harvey Weinstein vows to make a “Finding Neverland” film based on its middling Broadway run.
The original team of “Matilda” is on board for the future movie, and composer Alan Menken is talking about a remake of “Little Shop of Horrors,” his 1986 beloved collaboration with Howard Ashman, who died in 1991. If “Little Shop” really must be remade, it had better have Jake Gyllenhaal reprise the irresistible nerdy Seymour he created at Encores! Off-Center in 2015.
Finally, we return, as most theater stories always must, to Miranda. Jay Z has just signed on to produce the long-aborning movie version of “In the Heights,” Miranda’s Tony-winning 2008 musical. As for a film of “Hamilton,” don’t promise your kids they can wait for the movie.
A “Hamilton” adaptation, Miranda recently told Playbill, is “a ways off — and only because I am being selfish as a playwright. I want as many people to see the show in its musical theater form before it’s translated.” Meanwhile, there’s always “Mary Poppins Returns.”
ARE LONDON AUDIENCES MORE SENSITIVE THAN OURS?
The Royal Court Theatre, legendary home for edgy, dark, important plays for more than a half century, has a surprising message for potential theatergoers. Under the heading “Trigger Warnings,” the administration acknowledges there are moments that “can be particularly distressing for some individuals. If there are certain themes that you know would cause you extreme distress,” you can phone or email to speak to someone who can tell you more about the show. “We don’t want to spoil anyone’s experience of a new play at the Royal Court,” the letter continues, “and therefore avoid giving too much away when promoting the play.” If you need a counselor before deciding whether to buy a ticket, however, someone is there for you.
ARE LONDON AUDIENCES MORE BOORISH THAN WE ARE?
The producers of the West End revival of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” have found it necessary to officially ban eating during performances. It has come to this. The Ambassador Theatre Group manages that theater (and now owns Broadway’s Hudson Theatre and Lyric Theatre). The company, which runs a food-and-drink ordering service at the seats, sent an email to ticket bookers saying: “Out of consideration for the actors and for fellow audience members, we ask that no food be consumed during the performance.
Imelda Staunton, who plays Martha to Conleth Hill’s George, told Thestage.co.uk, “I don’t know why people can’t engage in just one thing. I don’t understand this obsession with having to eat or drink something at every moment of the day.” Albee, the meticulous and scorching playwright who died last year, surely would have approved.