A Look at Musicals in Broadway vs. Film

Let’s highlight the key differences between onscreen films and Broadway musicals!

By: Carlos Glick | Storytelling shifts dramatically, when it shifts from a stage to a screen.

When it comes to acting, there are two forms that I can think of: acting onstage and acting on camera. In which case, there are two forms of theater: plays/musicals and movies/TV shows. 

The question is: How do they differ? 

Let’s find out!

When you see a Broadway play or musical, they only have one shot at doing it right for the audience, after countless rehearsals and tech rehearsals. Whereas with film/TV, they have multiple tries and takes at doing it right.

In Broadway musicals, blocking is very different than in movies/TV shows. In Broadway, blocking is very specific and is on a stage. 

In film/TV shows, blocking can be easily managed.

Let’s take an example from “Beauty and the Beast.” In the 90’s , it was first an animated Disney movie, which at the same time was also a musical. 

“Beauty and the Beast” first premiered on Broadway in 1993 and ran for 13 years, just 2 years after its animated feature. Why, they did tell the same story, but having an animated feature come to life was quite remarkable!

Just 10 years after the end of the 13-year Broadway run, Disney had another project in store. That was a live action Disney movie of “Beauty and the Beast”, which starred Emma Watson, Josh Gad, and Luke Evans, to name a few.

From what I’ve witnessed, the Broadway version was fantastically awesome! In the film, you get to see the action up close. 

According to an article titled “Stage vs. Screen: What’s the big difference?” written by Helen Kantilaftis, she states that “theater is a nurturing art form.” When it comes to theater productions, Kantilaftis goes on to add that there are the benefits of “adequate rehearsal time, cast bonding, and time to experiment with the director before opening night.”

“Stage actors familiarize themselves with their roles so slowly that by the time they perform them publicly, they practice dozens of times,” said Kantilaftis. “In contrast, film is very different because film sets are always chaotic places that are packed with specialized, high-paid artists. For one, rehearsal time can be very little. For another, depending on the size of the role, you may not receive any direction.”

Another difference between Broadway musicals and film in general is that on Broadway, you get a larger audience, whereas in film you tend to get a very small audience, and that typically only includes the film directors and producers. 

Another Broadway musical that was adapted into a film is “In the Heights”, which came out last year and stars Anthony Ramos. 

According to an article from Bustle titled “9 Key Differences between The ‘In the Heights’ Movie & The Original Musical”, there are several ways in which the film adaptation strayed from its original medium.

Those 9 key differences go as follows: 

  • Lin Manuel Miranda no longer plays Usnavi
  • Vanessa’s role is much larger than it had been in the musical
  • We don’t see as many scenes involving other primary characters 
  • Certain lines were modified or changed significantly 
  • One of the characters is undocumented in the film
  • The pool scene was a new addition
  • The lottery ticket was not a surprise
  • Nina’s college plot plays out differently
  • The ending looks farther ahead to the future of the characters

Film and Broadway plays are two very separate things, but they both share one thing in common. Though they both ultimately tell the same overarching version of the story,  many little details can differentiate from the original.  

When it comes down to it, both theater and film are very much intertwined. Both are excellent ways to witness and experience stories like never before, whether one is seeing a Broadway musical live or watching a movie at a movie theater. `

Categories: Arts

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