TV Musical Remakes – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
One of the hip things happening on TV right now are the remakes of popular movie musicals. In the last five years, different TV networks have been grabbing musicals and movies of yesteryear to remake and share with the audiences of today. That said, it’s never a bad idea to reintroduce the classics, but is it always necessary to do a full remake? Let’s chat about some of the most recent remakes below.
In no particular order:
The original Dirty Dancing with Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze is iconic. From the signature dance moves and music to “No one puts Baby in a corner,” fans have HIGH expectations for a remake of this one. In this case, the May 2017 airing of the show was pretty lackluster. Critics and fans alike panned it from the very beginning. Though it isn’t technically a musical (the characters don’t sing in the original), this remake took some liberties. The framework of the original story is pretty much the same, but they’ve added a few other details.
Verdict: Skip this remake and stick to the original.
First, it was a John Waters movie. Second, it was a Broadway musical. Next, it became a movie musical. Then, it was remade into a live musical for television. This particular remake brought out some of Broadway’s best to bring the show to life – including original Broadway “Edna,” Harvey Fierstein. The messages in Hairspray Live! are relevant in our current political climate and no longer a flashback to America’s Civil Rights struggles. A major plus – Hairspray is almost always a vehicle to bring in a few fresh faces and in this particular incarnation, “Tracy” played by Maddie Baillio was brand new to TV screens around the world.
Verdict: Skip the first two films, see the Broadway show and watch this live version.
The Sound of Music Live!
This particular live musical is the one that started this new trend of TV musicals. When this aired in 2013, the hype for the live musical was high. While The Sound of Music Live! left many of us with a weird taste in our mouths, there were definitely some points to enjoy. Luckily, this live version remained VERY true to the original musical, not only the movie, being sure to include all of Elsa & Max’s signature songs. A few Broadway veterans made some wonderful & memorable appearances – Laura Benanti, Christian Borle, and the queen of the Tony Awards, Audra McDonald. While Carrie Underwood was heralded for her great singing throughout the live broadcast, many claim her acting left much to be desired.
Verdict: Stick to the Julie Andrews film version or the original stage version.
As another iconic piece that was reimagined for new audiences, Grease Live! often gets the rap for being the most well-done live remake. It’s no wonder it did, considering the combination of direction – Thomas Kail of Broadway’s Hamilton and Alex Rudzinski of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, it’s basically a no-brainer. This live broadcast simply weaved together movie & TV elements while remaining true to the script and story that we all know and love. Also, this production gave the audience many extra chances to see what was happening backstage and during all the commercial breaks. Starting from the opening number, we got to see dressing rooms and the back lots. Not to mention that one golf cart that almost flipped off a curb in the last few minutes of the broadcast! Those moments make a live broadcast memorable.
Verdict: Watch the 1977 movie AND this one from 2016 – some of the differences are really fun!
Remakes are super popular right now and some are definitely hit or miss compared to their originals. What do you think about remakes? Are you a fan or are you stuck on the originals only?