Movicals vs. Movies Smackdown as "Billy Elliot" and "9-to-5" nab Tonys


The nominations for the 63rd annual Tony Awards were just announced and even if you had seen most of the nominated plays -- and gave a fig -- the Tonys broadcast is not exactly must-see TV. (It’s June 7, if you must know.)

A not half bad alternative: rent the movie versions! This year, some of the top Broadway nominees are actually movicals – stage musicals based on movies.  

Musicals have been flooding Broadway of late -- The Full Monty,Hairspray,The Producers, Spamalot (the 2005 Tony-winning best musical is  coming to Market Street later this month.)  

Usually, this successful recipe to repurpose past movie fare relies on brand recognition and the appeal of kitsch blasts from the past; Xanadu, Legally Blonde -- etc.

But Billy Elliot: The Musical, which earned the most Tony nominations -- 15, including best musical, offers more than just brand recognition.

Billy Elliot The Musical is one of the better screen to stage adaptations. The choreographed union-worker-versus-police riots are the best choreographed violence since West Side Story. The enormous dancing dresses (for the cross-dressing show stopper) and giant Margaret Thatchers, are something you won’t see in the film.

Elton John (up for Best Original Score) has made a pretty nice career save with his Lion King and beyond second act. Still the original film is pretty darn good too, if your willing to forgo enormous dancing dresses.

Another movical that garnered noms (4) is 9-to-5, featuring new songs by Dolly Parton. The highly netfixable 80s film, helped launched a genre of ‘mad as hell and not taking it any more’ feminist flicks. In the Broadway version, Allison Janney (awesome in everything) is in the Lily Tomlin role, so it might actually be not bad. Or it might be an outdated stab at comedic feminism, this time with singing sectaries.

It’s a pretty good bet that a night in with a the Shrek DVD is going to a lot more fun than a trip to Shrek the Musical, even though it got 6 nominations! The Times’ wrote that the musical “feels like 40 blocks’ worth of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.”

So at $120 each for orchestra seats, and 3000 miles to Broadway, the red Netflix envelope is looking pretty good.

Next up: West Side Story is up for best PC revival, but Natalie and Rita aren’t chopped liver.

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