Film classic heads for stage

Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in the hit 1959 comedy, Some Like It Hot, which is to be turned into a Broadway musical opening in 2020.

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BY BILLY SUTER

A CLASSIC black and white movie from 1959, rated last year, in a BBC survey, as the best comedy in film history, is to become a new stage musical.

The film is Some Like It Hot which starred Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon – a picture which came out tops in a 2017 BBC international survey for the best comedy in film history, a poll that involved 253 film critics from 50 countries.

Directed by William Wilder, Some Like It Hot was nominated for six Oscars and won one for costume design. It was voted, in 2000, as the top comedy film by the American Film Institute, on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs poll.

Some Like It Hot tells of two Prohibition Era musicians who dress as women to escape from mafia gangsters, whom they witnessed commit a crime inspired by the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Johannesburg-based musical theatre expert Bryan Hill points out that the film was first turned into a stage musical titled Sugar. It ran at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre from 1972 to 1974, and hit London’s West End two decades later. It featured a book by Peter Stone, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, and was directed and choreographed by Gower Champion.

A new musical adaptation of the story is scheduled to reach Broadway in 2020, according to a Playbill report which adds that the project is from the Shubert Organisation and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the team responsible for the series of live NBC TV musicals.

The Playbill report adds that Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman – the duo that wrote songs for Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can and the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns movie – will create the new musical’s score, while direction and choreography will be by Casey Nicholaw, who has been Tony Award-nominated this year for his work on the Mean Girls musical.

Shaiman and Wittman, Playbill points out, wrote the songs for Bombshell, the fictional Marilyn Monroe bio-musical featured in the NBC TV series, Smash.

Bombshell, by the way, is reportedly now also being considered as a stage musical.


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