Theater. It grows just like everything else, expanding and texturizing with the generations. Every once in a while stage performance turns a freakish corner with some new creative development and sometimes it's beautiful. Things like:
- 1802. Appalachians employ an oversized cane or "The Hook," as a means of physically removing shitty performers from the stage.
- 1984. Starlight Express. Humans pretend to be trains. They wore rollerblades before rollerblades were rollerblades. On stage.
- 1999. Mama Mia! cements the new musical format du jour simply as a band's entire musical catalogue.
This last idea (and to be fair, this is not the first instance; only the most $uccessful) is so brilliant and lazy. Take years, maybe decades of a famous artist's music and string it together into a real or made up story so someone else can cover it on stage. Many stages. The very definition of franchising. And yet I feel this period hasn't seen its salad days yet. There is way more to be harvested from this musical cash crop and (forgive me) way better groups from which to license. Here, submitted for your consideration are my top four pitches for the next musicals based on a band's career. And I know Mama Mia! isn't about ABBA but that's because ABBA's boring. The stories below are biographical because they are all inherently amazing stories by themselves.
Metallica: Some Kind of Musical.
Using the documentary Some Kind of Monster as its narrative backbone, Metallica will tell the story of how four LA teenagers with zits came to form blah, blah, blah. Important: The house band has to be gnarly as hell and must hit all the ones in order to pull this off. This could be really, really fun to watch. Also, the theater (probably the Winter Garden) should sell beer in plastic cups and totally smell. It would be a nice touch. Also, the ushers should dress like roadies.
This is Van Halen's musical but check it out: it covers David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar periods. Those guys are totes buddies now anyway, so why not? This is sort of beautiful too because it'll be literally 9 hours of non-stop optimistic, sexy rock and the guy playing David Lee can get wired up in a harness and fly over the audience. Just like in that video! I recommend Panama! does a Tarantino-Memento style re-ordering of events just so it doesn't finish with the band bringing on the singer from Extreme and people getting cancer. Because that's actually how the shitty real story ends. It should end with them starting. F'sho.
Fleetwood Mac. It HAS to happen. This idea is already making me tear up because it would be so gorgeous. This one is straight shooting. Pure autobiography. No winks to the audience, no inside jokes. These people have been fucked with too much. Just make the music beautiful and listen to the hearts break. Oh, ok it would be pretty cool to see a really manic studio session sequence where white powdery cocaine rains down from the ceiling all over the stage. That's happening. This would eclipse Mama Mia! I have no doubt. Especially when actual Fleetwood Mac play themselves in London or something.
Crazy: A Britney Spears Extravaganza.
This is less musical and more like a variety show power hour. But still a bio. All of her songs are about her so no reason to really weave a story to keep them all coherent. Lots of costume changes, lots of sparklers. The beauty part is Britney could totally be in the damn thing herself. She looks good. And guess what else. K-Fed can totally be in it too. If that guy is good at anything, it's being his damn self. Shit, the guy's a backup dancer... he can be a backup dancer in the show. And in the show... they can be in the musical of their lives... That's how we conclude it. Crazy never really ends; it repeats itself ad nauseam. Like life.
Oh, one more funny theatrical twist to go back to the stage evolving etc.
- 2007. Equus. Daniel Radcliffe fucks a horse.