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An Autumn of Movie Musicals

Tom Hayden Millward

By Tom Hayden Millward First Published 31 August 2021, Last Updated 7 October 2021

In recent times, film-to-stage adaptations have become all the rage in the West End with more and more theatre producers capitalizing on the popularity of some of the most well-known titles from Hollywood and beyond. In fact, three of perhaps this autumn’s most highly anticipated West End shows are all based on cinematic hits: Back To The Future: The Musical (now playing at the Adelphi Theatre), Disney’s Frozen (currently running at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and Moulin Rouge! The Musical (at the Piccadilly Theatre from 13 November). They are set to join the ranks of a number of other popular film-to-stage hits in London’s Theatreland, including Pretty Woman: The Musical, DreamWorks’ The Prince Of Egypt, Mary Poppins and, of course, The Lion King.

However, if you think it’s a one-way relationship between screen and stage, then think again. In recent years, there has been a welcomed resurgence that has seen the film industry casting its eyes on the best the West End, Broadway and beyond has to offer for its inspiration. This autumn, a handful of much-loved stage musicals are receiving a shiny movie-makeover, so we thought we’d take a look at these upcoming stage-to-film adaptations and whet your appetites…

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Out of the Darkness… and onto your TV screens! A home-grown hit, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is based on the BBC documentary “Jamie: Drag Queen at 16” and follows a teenager in Sheffield, who wants to attend his prom wearing a dress and pursue a career as a fierce drag queen in the face of bullying and prejudice. The film adaptation features newcomer Max Harwood as Jamie New, alongside Richard E. Grant as his drag mentor Hugo Battersby (aka Loco Chanelle), Sarah Lancashire as his mum Margaret, Shobna Gulati as her best friend Ray and Sharon Horgan as Miss Hedge, a teacher at Jamie’s school. Keep your eyes peeled for cameo appearances by John McCrea (the West End’s original Jamie New) as a young Loco Chanelle and West End alum Bianca del Rio as art teacher Ms. Haylock too!

The pandemic has played havoc with the 20th Century film’s release, originally scheduled to hit cinemas in October 2020, before being delayed to January 2021, then February 2021, and then being removed from the release schedule completely. But thanks to Amazon Prime, fans will finally get to see the movie on the streaming service from 17 September 2021.

Why not get yourself in the mood and find out exactly why everybody’s talking about Jamie ahead of the film’s release by visiting the fabulous stage musical at the Apollo Theatre? The current West End run ends on 26 September 2021.

Dear Evan Hansen

You Will Be Found… on the silver screen! Dear Evan Hansen snowballed its way to glory in New York, ultimately winning six Tony Awards in 2017 including ‘Best Musical.’ The West End production would follow suit, picking up ‘Best New Musical’ at last year’s Olivier Awards. But will the imminent film adaptation also be showered with accolades? Time will tell…

The story revolves around Evan Hansen, an American high school student with Social Anxiety Disorder, who tells a lie (albeit with the best of intentions) and experiences a sharp rise in popularity as a result… until that lie spins completely out of control, of course.

Reprising his Tony Award-winning role, Ben Platt leads the cast as the titular character alongside the likes of Julianne Moore as his mother Heidi, Kaitlyn Dever as the object of his affection, Zoe Murphy, and Amy Adams as her mother Cynthia Murphy, among others.

Distributed by Universal Pictures, Dear Evan Hansen hits UK cinemas on 22 October 2021… and then you can visit (or re-visit) “the real thing” back on the Noel Coward Theatre stage in the West End from 26 October!

Anything else on the horizon?

Directed by Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda in his feature film directorial debut, tick, tick… BOOM! is based on Jonathan Larson’s semi-autobiographical Off-Broadway musical, written before his parting masterpiece Rent. It follows an aspiring composer in New York City in 1990, who worries about his unpredictable prospects in his chosen career path. Andrew Garfield, who recently wowed audiences at the National Theatre and on Broadway in Angels In America, plays Larson alongside a cast that includes High School Musical standout Vanessa Hudgens and Broadway favourites Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry and Judith Light, among others. Mark your diaries: tick, tick… BOOM! will play select cinemas from 12 November 2021, before dropping on Netflix on 19 November.

Something’s Coming, Something Good… courtesy of the one and only Steven Spielberg! West Side Story first made its Broadway debut in 1957 and a highly acclaimed film adaptation would follow in 1961. Fast forward sixty years and it’s high time the Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim classic got a fresh take. Enter arguably the greatest living director of our times: Mr. Spielberg. How will the master of cinema reinterpret this racially-fuelled, New York City-based tale, inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, for the 21st century? Find out when this hugely hyped remake hits UK cinema screens on 10 December 2021.

Ps. Broadway fans should be delighted to see the likes of Ariana DeBose and Brian d’Arcy James getting to strut their stuff on the silver screen. And look out for Rita Moreno, who also appeared in the 1961 movie!

2022 and Beyond

A plethora of movie musicals are in development at various studios across the globe, so there is much to look forward to in the coming years. We personally cannot wait to see the multi-Olivier Award-winning Matilda The Musical hitting UK cinemas on 2 December 2022, starring the incomparable Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull. And if you can’t wait that long for a healthy dose of Dahl, then the stage show returns to the Cambridge Theatre from 16 September 2021!

Other projects in development, which are based on shows that have enjoyed  ̶  or are currently enjoying  ̶  a West End run include Be More Chill, Monty Python’s Spamalot, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Sunset Boulevard, Once on This Island, Follies, The King and I remake and the long-overdue Wicked film just to name a few!

So, the future of the movie musical is certainly looking bright with exciting new titles and remakes of timeless classics galore in the coming years. But remember, as great as many of these films are and although we may be a little biased, to quote one of our favourite shows, there’s nothing quite like being in the room where it happens…

In the meantime, you can take a look at which live theatre shows are playing on our theatre tickets page.


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