In a little over one week, the cinema version of Mamma Mia will be released around the globe. As I am sure most of you are aware, Mamma Mia uses the music of Abba to set the story of a wedding and further paternal ponderings.
This combination of existing music to create a story is not a new idea. Music of popular recording artists has been used to create many shows including: “Dusty – The Musical” uses the music of Dusty Springfield to tell the story of Dusty Springfield; “We Will Rock You” uses the music of Queen to tell the story of Freddie Mercury; “Jersey Boys” uses the music of The Four Seasons to tell the story of, yep, you guessed it, The Four Seasons.
Are these shows truly musicals? If they were to be filmed for the big screen instead of set on the stage, would they be considered musicals or bio-pics?
This also brings up the question of recent stage adaptations of Dirty Dancing and Flashdance. These shows use the music from the movies, only instead of used as background music, they are sung by cast members. Do these two shows qualify as musicals?
Does that mean that any film we see where bands perform or a character sing a song qualifies as a Musical?
Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine sing a total of four songs in Postcards from the Edge… Is that a Musical?
At the end of First Wives Club, the Divine Miss M, Diane Keaton and Whatsherface all leave their event singing and dancing down the street. Does that make First Wives Club a Musical?
To be fair, Mamma Mia rightfully does fit into the musical category of “Revue” but where does it end?
How many more weak stories can be boxed together with immensely popular music, wrapped up and presented to us as cultured musical theatre? And we buy it!
Give me an original score any day.
What is a Musical?