Last fall, NBC had a surprising hit with The Sound of Music: Live! Did we think that a live broadcast of a musical that by all accounts is not as fun on stage as it is on celluloid would be a grand thing to sit through on a Thursday night? Especially when it featured a country music superstar who was not particularly known for her acting talents? Well, people loved it and people hated it, but it sure was fun to watch and tweet about, and its success convinced its producers to make it an annual event. Peter Pan, the 1954 musical, will be broadcast in December. And just yesterday, Fox announced they’ll be following suit with a live broadcast of Grease sometime next year.
Now, as much I as love a silly Broadway musical, couldn’t we do a little bit better than Peter Pan, which is very weird (awkward drag, casual racism), and Grease, which is so lamely oversaturated at this point?
The Music Man
Sure, an ill-fated TV adaptation was made in the early aughts with Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth, but if we’re going to bring Grease around again, why not bring back a delightful musical — one with timeless qualities and a gorgeous score? Plus, all of those kids badly playing instruments? It’ll be a hoot, I tell ya.
Little Shop of Horrors
The 1986 film starring Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, and Ellen Greene is a modern camp classic, and it’s groovy, rock ‘n’ roll store (not to mention its diverse cast) would probably bring in audiences who aren’t the typical old-fashioned Broadway musical fans.
I’m no real fan of Pippin (I think it’s grating and, well, stupid, to be honest), but people sure do love it (I blame high school theatre directors, always on the hunt for new recruits), as evidenced by last year’s Broadway production sweeping the Tony Awards. It doesn’t seem like it’d make for a well-formed film, but why not bring it to the masses in a live TV broadcast?
Fiddler on the Roof
Catching The Ten Commandments on TV the weekend of Passover proved that we need another Jewish-themed television event. At least for this we could get actual Jewish actors rather than some hunky Charlton Heston-type.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EktVzsYjMJk]
It’s an underrated Broadway gem, one that hasn’t been made into a movie and has only seen one Broadway revival. Yet it’s a charming little musical, based on Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (and less gloomy, to boot!), so why not bring it to TV? Sean Hayes could reprise his Tony-nominated turn as the lead in the 2010 Broadway revival since Sean Saves the World went kaput. (And really, is Kristin Chenoweth doing anything these days?) Plus, the batshit insanity “Turkey Lurkey Time” (above) would blow everyone away.
West Side Story
Hey, it didn’t stop The Sound of Music producers from attempting to take a beloved musical that had been turned into a nearly perfect, Best Picture-winning film and bring it to a soundstage for a TV broadcast. West Side Story would do just as well, and it gives the opportunity to bring a much more diverse cast to the screen.
Hey, why not put Carrie Underwood in a Rogers and Hammerstein musical that makes a little more sense? She can still put her hair up in braids, but she we can switch out the lederhosen for some bright pink or yellow gingham.
My Fair Lady
The original film with Audrey Hepburn is great and all, but wouldn’t it be nice to hear an Eliza Doolittle who can sing for herself? Attention: bring Laura Benanti back. It’ll be gorgeous, and we’ll be up to our necks in animated GIFs.
Look, none of us really want to see Lea Michele in Funny Girl, but she’s been trying to make it happen for years. It’s almost inevitable at this point, so why not save us a lot of trouble and make it a live TV show rather than an overblown Broadway production. I don’t want to risk the chance of her geting a Tony, you guys.
I know this is a stretch, because it’s a show that, as my mom once put it, “a bunch of old broads standing around and singing because they can’t dance that well anymore.” But it’s also SO GREAT! Arguably Stephen Sondheim’s most brilliant musical, it has some of his most memorable songs. Plus, the fact that it’s set entirely within the confines of a decrepit Broadway house makes it perfect for a live TV broadcast rather than a feature film. I dunno, can’t PBS get on top of this one?