Every time Disney releases a new stage musical everyone groans a little. Some have been successful, some haven't: Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Mary Poppins. The fad has caught on. Now there is Spamalot, The Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Legally Blonde the Musical, and Shrek as well. While we don't necessarily need these stage adaptations of classic movies. The movies have all been very successful in their own right so why do we need a live theatre version?
Well theatre and the movies have always had a close relationship ever since film began filterin into our culture during the early half of the Twentieth Century. Many plays have been made in to movies: Inherit the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire, Doubt, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, and countless adaptations of Shakespare just to name a few. The cross over has pro's and con's of course. With the film, you are able to expose a large number of people to the script that otherwise would not get to see it. Few of use are able to travel to Broadway to see the new and important plays with excellent actors. The cinema allows us to see great actors in great roles in our home towns.
However, we loose two very important things. The first is the live performance aspect of theatre. No matter how good a film performance is, it cannot match the magic of being in the same room with the actors. On top of that this allows for grown and variability. Unlike film, no two performances are ever exactly the same. There is room for growth, change, exploration, and failure. A theatrical performance is a living organism where as a film is a archival copy.
So why are we so obsessed now with bringing movies to the stage? Well there is of course the box office draw - money after all makes the world go 'round. The living performance aspect isn't so much an asset in this circumstance as everyone going to the show is comparing the live production to the movie. And if you will note, most of these movies brought to the stage are being brought as musicals.
In the end, the audience must ask themselves why they want to go to the theatre. If it is simply to feel entertained and go home feeling good about themselves, does it really matter how that is accomplished? If you want to take part in an experience - then there are a few more choices you have to make. And especially if we're talking about Broadway with its very expensive tickets, I'm sure anyone would rather sped over one hundred dollars on something you are sure that you will enjoy.