Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 10:03 pm
Animated adaptations of stage musicals
It's interesting that when it comes to adapting stage musicals, animation is not usually an option. In fact so far (at least from what I saw) there have only been 5 animated adaptations. There's Carol Channing's Shinbone Alley, Warner Bros. and Richard Rich's The King and I, and television specials of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Stingiest Man in Town, and Elf. However that's not to say there was any lack of trying. In fact there have been three attempts to adapt a stage musical into an animated feature, but none of them went off the ground. And with an animated adaptation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in development, I thought it would be neat to talk about those three attempts. So with that, let's get started.
Disney's Aida - Based on the opera of the same name by Giuseppe Verdiand and with songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, Disney did produced the musical under their theatrical productions, but even before the stage version, Disney had planes to adapt the opera as an animated feature (think of it as a follow up to The Lion King). Why was the idea shelved? Well basically Elton John chose not to pursue another animated project after The Lion King, hence why it was made into a Broadway show instead. There are some sketches by character designer Ben Balistreri which many people thought that they were concept art for the project, but according to Ben and I quote "This was nothing more than a class assignment given out by Frank Terry when I was at Cal Arts back in 1996...Frank brought in a newspaper clipping that Disney and Elton John were going to do an animated musical of Aida and our assignment was to create a line up of the main characters and give them all Disney style sidekicks.". Following the success of the stage version, Disney had plans to adapt it into a live action film, with Beyoncé playing the title character and Christina Aguilera as Amneris. However there hasn't been any information on it since it was announced.
Amblimation's Cats - Whether you like Cats or hate it, there's no denying that it's one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most popular musicals. So it shouldn't be surprising that Webber had tired to make it into a movie. Done at Steven Spielberg’s animation studio Amblimation (the same studio behind American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West, We're Back a Dinosaur's Story, and Balto) and directed by Simon Wells (who directed all three Amblimation films and the Prince of Egypt), apparently most of the story was to be set in London shortly after The Blitz, giving everything a danse macabre and blast-out feel, and the visual concept attempted to combine detailed miniature models with traditional animation to create a unique 3-D feel. So why was it cancelled? Well sadly during production, Amblimation closed down due to the commercial failure of Balto. However, there are some concept art of the project that have been released on the internet.
UPA's Finian's Rainbow - For those who don't know, Finian's Rainbow was a 1947 musical about a man named Finian and his daughter Sharon moving from Ireland to the southern United States so they can bury a stolen pot of gold near Fort Knox, in the mistaken belief that it will grow. A leprechaun follows them however, desperate to recover his treasure before the loss of it turns him permanently human. Now there was a live action adaptation in 1968, but fourteen years prior, the United Productions of America, better known as UPA (the same studo behind Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing) tried to adapt the musical into an animated feature. It was going to be directed by John Hubley, had people like Art Babbit doing the animation, and the cast would've included people like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. So what happened? Well unfortunately, the era's McCarthyism caused financing to be withdrawn due to Hubley and Harburg's refusal to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. However like Cats, there are plenty of concept art, storyboards and sketches of project circling around the internet.
And that's pretty much it. What do you guys think? Do you think these three would've been great as animated features?
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:27 pm
Location: North Carolina
Re: Animated adaptations of stage musicals
The only thing I can contribute is that I would like to see animation related to more off the wall musicals, some of my favorites like:
Phantom of the Paradise
Cannibal! The Musical
Rock 'N' Roll High School
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Repo! The Genetic Opera
Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare
Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead
"Pink Floyd: The Wall" is already mostly animated.
I found out that there was an animated series based on the musical version of "Little Shop of Horrors".
"I have known hardship and learned to aid the wretched."