The new touring production of “The Bodyguard” follows a long and fruitful tradition of turning films into stage musicals.
The parade of adaptations included originals that already had music and those that didn’t. Some were comedies, others dramas. “An American in Paris” took the 1951 best picture Academy Award and the 2015 best musical Tony Award. “Gigi,” a 1958 hit film, also was won a best picture Oscar and a Tony Award, but not for best musical.
California Musical Theatre is mounting a six-day run of “The Bodyguard” starting Tuesday, April 18. The national touring company stars Deborah Cox as superstar Rachel Marron. The musical premiered in London’s West End in 2012.
Based on the 1992 film that starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, “The Bodyguard” has more musical bona fides than most. “The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album” became the best-selling soundtrack of all time, featuring five songs which were hit singles for Houston, including “I Will Always Love You,” “Run to You” and “Queen of the Night.” Other Houston songs in the show include “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).”
The Disney Company, of course, thrives on turning films into stage spectacles with productions such as “Mary Poppins,” “The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” fairly inescapable in regional and junior productions.
Coming attractions for films-to-musicals soon to be on stage include “Groundhog Day,” “Amelie,” “Anastasia” and “Frozen.”
Here are a few popular stage musicals that had film precedents.
The 1954 romantic comedy was directed by Michael Curtiz with the top-drawer cast of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Set to Irving Berlin songs, a couple of entertainment vets romance two sisters trying to get into the business.
Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová wrote the songs and starred in the hit indie film set in Dublin, where they were struggling musicians who meet on the street. The musical featured a working bar where you could get a beer before the performance.
Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, and Harvey Keitel were in the original 1992 movie with Marc Shaiman (“Hairspray”) doing the music. Glenn Slater wrote lyrics and Alan Menken wrote music for the 2011 Broadway adaptation.
Reese Witherspoon was born to play Elle Woods, the SoCal fish out of water at Harvard. The successful movie became a franchise with not only a musical but other spinoffs as well.
Based on Billy Wilder’s Academy Award-winning 1950 film, the plot revolves around Norma Desmond, a former the silent-screen star. The musical features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton (additional lyrics by Amy Powers).
Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly starred in the musical fantasy, which became a cult hit. The soundtrack featured songs by Electric Light Orchestra and the Tubes. With the added bonus of early ’80s fads of rollerskating and leg warmers.
Kiss of the Spider Woman
The 1992 stage adaptation had music by John Kander and Fred Ebb and book by Terrence McNally. The original Broadway production won six Tony Awards, including Chita Rivera for best performance by a leading actress in a musical. William Hurt, Raúl Juliá and Sônia Braga starred in the 1985 film.
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Stanley Donen directed the 1954 film, which traces its roots back the Roman fable of “The Sabine Women.” Stephen Vincent Benét’s satire “The Sobbin’ Women” became the basis of the movie, which included lyrics by Johnny Mercer and choreography by Michael Kidd. The musical opened on Broadway in 1982.
The Color Purple
Steven Spielberg directed the 1985 film based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The original Broadway production ran from 2005 to 2008, and a highly regarded revival ran from 2015 through early 2017, winning two 2016 Tony Awards.
Mel Brooks struck gold when he adapted his 1968 satire about inept theatrical producers trying create a flop. The Broadway version starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick and won a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards.
Elton John wrote the music while Lee Hall, who wrote the film screenplay, wrote the book and lyrics. The plot revolves around young Billy, a miner’s son who has talent for ballet and tries to get into a prestigious dancing school while miners are striking.
What: The national touring production, starring Deborah Cox (Cox is not scheduled to appear at the Thursday and Saturday matinees)
Where: Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, April 18-22; 2 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, April 20, 22-23.