Awesome Adaptations: An Awesomely Musical Adaptation
Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.
Each week I will be writing about an adaptation of a book that I think is worth seeing and I have challenged myself to come up with suggestions to match a category. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along, just mention this blog in your post. Let us know what adaptation you’d pick and why it is worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!
If you don’t have a blog yet though you can still play along, just leave your answer in the comments thread for each week’s challenge.
This week’s challenge is to name: An Awesomely Musical Adaptation
Adapted From: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
I had so many different musicals that came to mind when picking this category, My Fair Lady, The Phantom of the Opera, etc. Ultimately I decided I wanted to pick a musical that perhaps you haven’t heard of. One of my all time favorite books is The Scarlet Pimpernel, it has a wonderful mix of action, romance and adventure. Sir Percy is such a wonderfully nuanced character who just jumps out of the page at you and you fall in love with in spite of yourself. I have mentioned in a past Awesome Adaptation my love for the adaptation that features the wonderful and perfectly cast Anthony Andrews!
I wanted to have a chance to talk about how much I love the musical as well. It stars the wonderful Douglas Sills as Sir Percy who has not only a wonderful voice but also does a wonderful job with the acting! The score is really lovely and captures I think the spirit of the novel. I also very much enjoy the songs done by Chauvelin which make him into a really nuanced and complex villain who is a worthy opponent to Scarlet Pimpernel! He is wonderfully sung and acted by Terence Mann.
I could go on for several paragraphs about everything I love about this musical and what a shame it is I have never been able to see it on the stage, especially with the original cast! If you are fan of the book I definitely recommend checking out this awesome musical!
Adapted From: The Once and Future King by T. H. White
I suspect that this is a largely sentimental choice. Back when I was about eight years old my father took me to a local amateur operatic and dramatic society’s production of this musical and it was my very first taste of musical theater.
I knew many of the legends of King Arthur already having exhausted a videotape of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone and an audiotape reading of The Legends of King Arthur over the years. Still, the story captivated me from start to finish in spite of it being a kissing play!
There were sword fights, little explosions, a great villain and my teacher was playing the role of Merlyn… Plus at the interval I had an entire box of Maltesers candy all to myself! A recipe for a wonderful evening that led to me aspiring to be an actor for several years afterwards (until I realized, after performing in an Am-Dram production of The Evacuees, that I had no talent for it).
Over the years since that first magical night I have returned to this musical numerous times, enjoying several of the different soundtracks and, to a lesser degree, the movie with Richard Harris. That film has its flaws (several of the songs from the stage musical are cut and the quality of the singing is quite uneven), though it is still quite charming.
My favorite of the recordings though remains the original Broadway cast where Richard Burton played Arthur, Julie Andrews was Guenevere and Robert Goulet played a rather dashing Lancelot. Andrews is particularly good as the young queen, not only doing a lovely job with the courting scenes but also with the very flirty, mischievous song ‘The Lusty Month of May’ while Burton is quite charming as the nervous king, comfortable in battle but terrified by romance. They are quite wonderful together and the clips I’ve seen of the performances on the Ed Sullivan show are quite delightful (and incidentally, Burton’s dancing in the ‘What Do The Simple Folk Do’ segment has to be seen to be believed!).
Still, as great as some of those productions are, the one which will always stick with me most was that first version I ever saw. It was, quite simply, one of the best experiences of my childhood.
So those are our choices, how about yours? Link to your blog post in the comments below and let us know what you’d pick.
Next week we’ll pick An Awesome Adaptation of an Animal Tale! Check out the schedule for the rest of the year here.