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When Hollywood Met Broadway: Screen Stars Hit the Stage as Stage-to-Screen Musicals (and Vice-Versa) Move Through the Pipeline

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood February 28, 2013 at 12:35PM

Let's face it, movie musicals are usually bad. Don't get me wrong, nobody should love them more than me: I'm a movie nerd and a musical nerd, so a movie musical should be exactly what the doctor ordered. But sometimes the whole ends up a lot less than the sum of its parts. Think pickles plus peanut butter: Just. Don't. Do it. (Or think "Rock of Ages." Exactly.) But every now and again something like "Les Miserables" happens and we remember that movie musicals can be awesome. Sure, they're bombastic and unrealistic. Yes, it's weird that people start singing on the street and orchestral music seeps out of the very air.
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The Broadhurst Theatre, home of the Tom Hanks vehicle "Lucky Guy."
Broadwayworld.com The Broadhurst Theatre, home of the Tom Hanks vehicle "Lucky Guy."

Let's face it--sometimes Broadway and Hollywood don't mix.  Take movie musicals.  Don't get me wrong, nobody should love them more than me: I'm a movie nerd and a musical nerd, so a movie musical should be exactly what the doctor ordered.  But sometimes the whole ends up being a lot less than the sum of its parts.  Think pickles plus peanut butter: Just.  Don't.  Do it.  (Or think "Rock of Ages."  Exactly.)

But every now and again something like "Les Miserables" happens and we remember that movie musicals can be awesome.  Sure, they're bombastic and unrealistic.  Yes, it's weird that people start singing on the street and orchestral music seeps out of the very air.  But the combination of stage and screen talent can sometimes exhibit that strange alchemy that makes truly great art possible.  Not surprisingly, Broadway and Hollywood love working together--and perhaps nobody loves it more than the stars, who take advantage of this time of year to trek to New York and mount the stage, no doubt hoping for a Tony nom, to boot.

This spring, as usual, there will be plenty of Hollywood royalty to watch in the flesh in New York.  And we can only hope that some of the many stage-to-screen adaptations currently in the pipeline--and screen-to-stage ones too--turn out right.

Movie Stars to Watch on Broadway

Tom Hanks: The veteran film actor will take his first Broadway bow in "Lucky Guy," a play by the late comic genius Nora Ephron, in which he plays Pulitzer Prize-winning tabloid muckraker Mike McAlary.  Ephron originally sent Hanks the script as a screenplay back when she was considering making "Lucky Guy" a movie; the play version later had a New York reading with Hugh Jackman as McAlary.  Tony winner George C. Wolfe (of "Angels in America") is directing, although tickets haven't exactly been flying out the door.

Alec Baldwin: Baldwin was originally set to star opposite Shia LaBeouf in a new revival of Lyle Kessler's 1983 drama about two brothers (one of them LaBeouf) who kidnap a mobster (Baldwin).  After a somewhat murky kerfuffle involving tweets and emails between LaBeouf, Baldwin and the show's director (Daniel Sullivan) and producers, the young "Transformers" star bowed out of the production on February 20.  Ben Foster (of "The Messenger" and "3:10 to Yuma") will take his place, although opening night has been pushed back a few weeks later in April than originally planned.

Jane Lynch: From "Glee" to Broadway: get ready for Lynch to shed her tracksuit and don a caftan as Mrs. Hannigan, the evil orphanage directrix who terrorizes America's most-emblematic red-head in "Annie."  The well-known musical's revival will be Lynch's first time on Broadway; she'll step into actress Katie Finneran's shoes for eight weeks in July.

Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Williams: These three stars will be appearing in "The Trip to Bountiful," a Horton Foote play about an elderly woman who yearns to visit her hometown one last time.  "Bountiful" was born as a teleplay in 1953 and had a strong theatrical run on Broadway that same year; Geraldine Page won an Oscar for her turn in the same role as Tyson in a 1985 film adaptation of the play.  Tyson hasn't been on Broadway for 30 years, and the play will mark Gooding, Jr.'s stage debut.  Williams was nominated for a Tony in the 2002 revival of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods."

Jesse Eisenberg and Vanessa Redgrave: Eisenberg will star off-Broadway as the young novelist at the heart of "The Revisionist," which he penned himself, with Redgrave playing his 75-year-old second cousin Maria, a survivor of the Holocaust.  Redgrave, of course, is a titan of the stage and a Tony winner.  Eisenberg has acted on stage since he was a teenager.

This article is related to: Musical, In The Works, IN THE WORKS, Harvey Weinstein, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Vanessa Redgrave, Jesse Eisenberg


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