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Movie-stage trend sticks


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POSTED: Friday, July 10, 2009

There was a time not long ago when Hollywood got a lot of great ideas from Broadway.

A big Broadway blockbuster musical was almost certain to be seen on the silver screen as a big-budget movie musical—“;South Pacific,”; “;The King & I,”; “;West Side Story,”; “;Man of La Mancha,”; “;Camelot”; and many more.

How things have changed! These days, Broadway seems to go for revivals of surefire old-time hits with a occasional rewrite to appease apostles of political correctness. When it comes to ideas for new productions, Broadway looks to Tinseltown.

“;It's definitely a trend,”; Diamond Head Theatre Artistic Director John Rampage said Friday, referring to the recent flow of story ideas from Los Angeles to Broadway. DHT has specialized in recent years in getting the Hawaii rights to Broadway hits as soon as they become available.

As luck and timing would have it, DHT is following its successful production of “;Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”; with another hit with a similar pedigree, “;The Wedding Singer.”; The show, a hit on Broadway in 2006, is based on Adam Sandler's 1998 film of the same name. Rampage recalls Sandler's movie as a milestone.

“;It was the first movie Adam Sandler did that he wasn't just over-the-top crazy, where he actually created a very likable (and) lovable character. I (also) think its one of the best things Drew Barrymore ever did as a film, and it has a huge following.”;

DHT's production of “;Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”; was the setting for a career-best performance by Matt Pennaz as Freddie that was also one of the most memorable things about the show. Not to put any undue pressure on Thomas McCurdy, who stars as Robbie Hart (the Adam Sandler role) opposite Katie Beth Hicks as Katie Sullivan (the Drew Barrymore role), but Rampage said McCurdy is someone to watch for this time.

“;He was in 'Les Miz,' he was in 'Gypsy' in a small part, he was also in that 'Duck Hunter' show at Manoa (Valley Theatre), but this is his first real standout lead and he's truly charming in it,”; he said.

Also on Rampage's watch list is “;a young lady whose name is Victoria Morgan. ... She has an amazing voice. She plays Holly, and I think she is a real standout performer as well.”;

               

     

 

'THE WEDDING SINGER'

        » Where: Diamond Head Theatre, 520 Makapuu Ave.
       

» When: 8 p.m. today; also 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through July 26 (matinee performances at 3 p.m. July 18 and July 25)

       

» Cost: $12 to $42 (discounts available)

       

» Info: 733-0274 or hsblinks.com/9j

       

 

       

For the benefit of readers who haven't seen the movie, we'll take a moment to explain that Robbie Hart is a singer who gets dumped by his girlfriend, Linda, on their wedding day. Julia is a waitress he meets on the rebound, and they become friends but Julia keeps things platonic because she is engaged to a wealthy guy—and doesn't know that he's cheating on her. Holly is Julia's cousin, and she irks Julia by making a move on Robbie.

And, for the benefit of everyone who has seen the movie, we'll add that Chad Beguelin and Tom Herlihy made changes in the story lines and character elements when they developed the stage version. Taking a longer view of things, Rampage sees some benefits in the current expedient of creating a Broadway musical by adding music to the plot of a successful film.

“;Just because something came from a film doesn't mean that it is inferior in any way (to an original Broadway script),”; he said. “;A lot of times by adding music and dance you make some of those films even better.

“;I think that was the case with 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,' and it was certainly the case with 'The Producers.'”;

Beyond that, he added, name recognition can be a win-win for the producers and the ticket-buying public. People are more likely to go see something they know, be it a revival of “;South Pacific”; or the Broadway musical version of “;9 to 5,”; “;Billy Elliott,”; “;Shreck,”; “;Legally Blonde”; or “;Spiderman.”;

“;When you're looking as an investor in putting between $15 (million) and $20 million in a show nowadays, (investors) want to make sure that it has name recognition,”; Rampage pointed out. A hit film is a proven crowd-pleaser, but the downside is that it's becoming harder to present new work by the next generation of composers, writers and lyricists.

“;I think there's just as many young composers and lyricists and writers doing original work (as ever), but it's hard to find the kind of investment to mount a huge Broadway show,”; said Rampage. “;So now there's very few original pieces coming out of Broadway.”;