Another hit movie is joining the ranks of films that have been turned into stage musicals.
CODA, the Oscar nominated movie that was released in cinemas and on Apple+ in 2021, is being adapted into a musical by the movie’s co-producers Vendôme Pictures and Pathé, in partnership with the acclaimed Tony Award-winning Deaf West Theatre.
Deaf West Theatre’s hits include the 2004 Tony Award winning show Big River, and their 2016 production of Spring Awakening. The company are famous for melding sign language and spoken English.
The film is about 17-year-old Ruby, the sole hearing member of a deaf family – a CODA means the child of deaf adults, and is nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Picture.
DJ Kurs, Artistic Director of Deaf West Theatre, said in a statement that: “In the movie there is a scene where the Deaf members of the Rossi family, confronted with an inaccessible school performance, take in Ruby’s song through the joy of others in the audience. This is an opportunity, then, to bring the story full circle by bringing it back to members of the Deaf community and by making the music accessible through our signed and sung live adaptation of the movie. It is in the mission of our organization,” Kurs continued, “to be the artistic bridge between the Deaf and hearing communities and we are truly excited and honored to embark on this live iteration of a story that brings together both sides of the aisle and addresses the ways that we move throughout the world.”
Vendôme Pictures’ Philippe Rousselet said: “We, with Pathé, have been humbled and honored to see the success of CODA from Sundance, through its premiere on Apple TV+ and awards buzz this season. This is a timeless story that we’ve always believed in and knew would resonate with audiences far and wide. For this reason, we are looking forward to continuing our incredible journey and bringing this universal story to life from screen to stage. We are excited at the caliber of Broadway talent interested in collaborating with us on the project.”
CODA is directed by Siân Heder and stars Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant and Eugenio Derbez.
The movie wasn’t a big hitter in the UK, with cinemas largely closed last summer and low levels of word of mouth. But Oscars buzz could change all that.
Trading Places The Musical
Another new movie-to-stage show nearing its premiere is Trading Places The Musical. Based on the cult 1983 movie starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, the show will get its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, US on 25 May, playing to 26 June 2022.
The show has a book by Reno 911! actor and writer Thomas Lennon, is directed by Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) and has music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (Broadway’s First Date). The casting shakes things up from the original, with actress Aneesa Folds (Freestyle Love Supreme) in the Murphy role, and Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) in the Aykroyd part.
Other cast include Marc Kudisch (Girl From the North Country) and Lenny Wolpe (Bullets Over Broadway) as Mortimer and Randolph Duke, plus McKenzie Kurtz (Frozen), Josh Lamon (The Prom), Don Stephenson (Trouble in Mind) and Joe Montoya, who plays Phil – instead of Ophelia, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in the movie.
Depending on its success in Atlanta, the producers are expected to announce a Broadway transfer. So give it a few years, and the West End may be Trading Places too!
More movie musicals heading to London?
There are lots of movie-to-stage shows that have been produced on Broadway and beyond that we are still waiting for in London. Will these shows be heading to Theatreland any time soon?
- The musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice opened on Broadway in 2019, and UK fans are waiting with bated breath for the show to announce a West End run.
- Muriel’s Wedding the Musical was a smash in Australia, but no sign yet of the show being exported to the UK
- Tootsie The Musical didn’t have the longest run ever on Broadway (March 2019 to January 2020), but could it find a London home?
- Mrs Doubtfire (or Doubtfire as it was rebranded on Broadway) is a prime show for a West End transfer. It finally opened in New York in December, after starting previews in March 2020 but only managing three previews before the Covid shutdown hit.
- Finding Neverland: Countless setbacks have plagued this show, not least the movie’s producer Harvey Weinstein going to prison. But Gary Barlow is determined to reinvent it and bring it to the West End some time soon
Movies with rumoured musical adaptations
There are also legions of movies that have rumoured musical adaptations in the works. Some is spurious fan hope, some serious development and workshops. We have our fingers crossed.The Greatest Showman The Musical has been rumoured for a long time, and makes the most sense out of all musical projects in development. Also, please let Lala Land The Musical come to the stage sometime soon. There was much discussion and excitement following the film’s release, particularly from the show’s writers, but so far news on the prospective musical is hard to come by.
Also see: Our guide to London theatre shows that were originally movies