Through July 5th, Scott Miller's New Line Theatre is presenting the Midwest premiere of the musical High Fidelity. Reviews have been very favorable. One of those reviews, however, included a couple of comments that caused my Inner Curmudgeon to spring to life.
You can read the entire piece on line (at least until the publication in questions moves it to the archives, when you have to pay for the privilege of seeing it), but this is what made me all grumbly:
High Fidelity started out as a delightful novel by Nick Hornby, then turned into a cute movie starring John Cusack. But it's not an obvious candidate for the musical stage. That's because when we think of musicals, we tend to think of flashy extravaganzas.
My first complaint involves the use of the word “we”. Who is this word “we”? Did she have a mouse in her pocket? I'm a long-time lover of musical theatre and I certainly don't think of “flashy extravaganzas” when I think of musicals. I'll bet most of you reading this don't either.
Maybe I'm being too picky, but it bugs me to see writers use “we” when they really mean “I” or (maybe) “my friends and I”.
As far as whether or not the book was on "obvious candidate for the musical stage", I have to say that if The Lord of the Rings can be turned into musical theatre, pretty much anything is fair game. Would anyone have thought, a priori, that Tales of the South Pacific was a likely candidate for musical theatre? Or Les Miserables? Or Wicked? For that matter, who'd have thought that a painting by Seuralt could be the basis for a musical? It just takes someone with enough imagination to do the adaptation.
Art in almost any form is nearly infinitely transmutable, in my view. The product of any particular metamorphosis may or may not succeed, depending largely on the skill of the artist doing the adaptation, but almost anything is possible.
That's what we (Stuart Little and I) think, anyway.