Movie adaptations of musicals – many theatre fans have a kind of love-hate relationship with them. We love that we get the opportunity to watch a musical again and again from the comfort of our own sofa. But we often don’t really like the execution. Sometimes we are disappointed because the story or some of the songs were altered. But very often the problem seems to lie in the casting. Movie producers want mostly big names in their movies, because big names sell well. The problem is that musicals require special skills in which some big movie stars aren’t trained. This often means that fans don’t enjoy the movie as much as they do the stage version.
This is something fans are scared may happen to Wicked, one of the most anticipated movie musical adaptations of this decade. Wicked has been a huge hit across the globe for the past thirteen years. This musical has an incredibly demanding score and many people are afraid that if the wrong people are cast they might ruin the songs if they have limited singing abilities. But if we look at past movie adaptations of musicals, such as the Phantom of the Opera or Les Misérables, it seems inevitable that Hollywood will once again choose people with screen acting credits over stage actors.
And even though my first choice would always be to cast Rachel Tucker or Kerry Ellis as Elphaba, I believe that it is still possible to cast only screen actors and still have very capable singers. The trick is just to find the right people and not just cast any star. Below I give you my ideas as to which screen actors could be great for the lead roles.
*Katharine McPhee: Katharine McPhee rose to fame through American Idol where she showed of her great voice. She has also proven to be a very capable actress as well in shows such as “Smash” and “Scorpion”. In Smash we heard her belt high notes, so Defying Gravity should be right up her alley. And let’s be honest, she’d look great in green.
*Victoria Justice: Victoria Justice is probably most well-known because of her role in teen TV show “Victorious”, where she also sang a lot. I don’t know how high her vocal range goes, but I’m confident that she could nail Elphaba’s songs. From what I’ve heard of her singing I think she definitely has it in her. On top of that she is still well-known with the younger audience, a bonus for producers eager to sell tickets.
*Samantha Barks: She started her career in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC casting show “I’d Do Anything”, where she made it to the final. Later, she starred in multiple theatre productions, such as Les Misérables, Oliver, Amélie and The Last Five Years. She also played Eponine in the 25th Anniversary concert of Les Misérables and later reprised that role in the movie adaptation! She is young, talented and has experience in theatre as well as movies. It also wouldn’t be the first time she sang Elphaba’s big showstopper ‘Defying Gravity’, since she sang this song in “I’d Do Anything” at the age of 17! Imagine how incredible it would sound if she sang it now, with nearly 10 years experience in the business.
*Kristen Bell: Kristen has been a well-known actress for many years. She got her big break with “Veronica Mars”, and even after that her career really took of. She can regularly be seen in big Hollywood movies. She also voiced Anna for Frozen, proving that she has a great voice. People who have watched her do interviews will also know that she has a great personality that goes incredibly well with the character of Glinda.
*Julianne Hough: Julianne already played some musical parts. She played one of the leads in the Rock of Ages movie, and also recently appeared as Sandy in Grease live. On top of that she has a career in country music. All of this makes her a very viable candidate to play Glinda.
*Jeremy Jordan: Many of us know Jeremy Jordan as a Broadway actor. He has one of the best voices out there. But his screen acting career has also been doing quite well in recent years with roles in “Smash”, “Supergirl” and others. He has the perfect look and voice to play the Winkie prince whose reputation is so scandalacious.
*Joseph Gordon-Levitt: A very popular actor in recent years. On top of being in blockbuster movies, also sings quite well.
*Anna Kendrick: This one has become a bit of a cliché because of her involment in multiple musical movie projects in recent years. But she’d still make a good Nessa.
*Victoria Justice: If she’s not cast as Elphaba, Victoria would make a fantastic Nessa.
*Daniel Radcliffe: Let’s be honest. He looks like Boq, he’s famous and he can sing well enough to pull off this part. He’s been in a Broadway musical so he has experience.
*Kevin Spacey: This two-time Oscar winning actor would be an absolutely perfect Wizard. He’s a great singer and he looks the part. Not to mention he’d be a big box-office draw. Many people know him from his Oscar winning performances in “The Usual Suspects” and “American Beauty”. But in recent years he has become increasingly popular through the success of “House of Cards”.
*Victor Garber: Victor Garber is a veteran actor of stage and screen, appearing in blockbuster films such as Titanic and Sleepless In Seattle, and more recently in the superhero series “The Flash”. But on top of that, he’s also an experienced theatre actor. He has appeared on both the West End and Broadway. He appeared in productions of Godspell, Sweeney Todd, Noises Off and Assassins. Knowing all this, it may not surpise you to learn that he has four Tony Award nominations under his belt.
He is more than qualified to play the role of The Wizard. With his appearances in superhero shows such as “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow”, he might also bring in a new and young audience, as well as older people who know him from his earlier work.
*Angela Lansbury: This legend of stage and screen would be absolutely perfect as the menacing Madame Morrible.
*Meryl Streep: Again a cliché, but she’d do a great job.
*Imelda Staunton: Gypsy. Nuff said.
*Bill Nighy: Bill Nighy is quirky, funny and a familiar face. In “Love Actually” he showed that he is a capable singer who’d be more than qualified to play a relatively small part in a musical.
*Victor Garber: On top of being a good choice for The Wizard, Victor Garber could also be a great Doctor Dillamond.
Blog written by Dries Janssens: @DriesJanssens3