Dreamgirls and Showgirls: Musicals from stage to screen and back again


Dreamgirls will be released on DVD on Tuesday. This news is enough to make me drop my pants like Jimmy Early does in the movie (and I suspect I’d get an equally horrified response). I also find myself pondering the whole musical-to-movie phenomenon. For Dreamgirls and Chicago, the transition was smooth indeed: Both films are critically acclaimed and popular with audiences. Whether Mamma Mia! will fare quite so well remains to be seen (cross your fingers, Meryl Streep).

Lately there’s a growing trend in the other direction: Movies are being turned into musicals. Legally Blonde opened Sunday to mixed reviews, and in late May, Xanadu will begin previews. And the musical version of 9 to 5 is proceeding apace, with a staged reading planned for June. (Hairspray is a horse of a different, confusing color, having gone from film to Broadway and back again.)

Here’s one screen-to-stage transition that makes perfect sense: Showgirls. As she reveals in the new issue of The Advocate (in which she is highlighted as someone wtih a “Big Gay Following”), Gina Gershon has thought about turning Showgirls into a musical.

Says Gershon,

It’s such an obvious idea. I mentioned it to Joe [Eszterhas] and he was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” But it’s really a version that only I can tell. I’m going to do it from my point of view, because some of the stuff that happened was just so beyond the film. So much through the [filming] I kept making up and singing songs in my head just to keep sane half the time. Truly, my brain would go there as a way of protection, survival, and endurance. But I kind of lost track of it. I should do it — it seems like such a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

Yes, it does! Do it!

Gershon offers a few other interesting tidbits in the Advocate interview, ranging from her mad skills on the Jew’s harp (she played it on the Scissor Sisters album Ta-Dah) to her recurring guilt that she’s not gay.

I was just talking about this last night to my friends. I always come up with different titles of books that I could write, and that was the title yesterday: I’m So Sorry I’m Not Really a Lesbian.

Sigh. So are we, Gina. So are we.

Since I can’t have a gay Gershon or a stage version of Showgirls anytime soon, I’ll just go back to consoling myself with the Dreamgirls DVD.

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