Monday, September 5, 2011

From the main stage to piece of paper, can it be done successfully?

There really is something to taking an animated movie that touches the hearts of its audiences every single time it is revisited and bringing it to life on the stage. The first time I saw Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, I couldn't believe the elaborate costumes and sets, the dramatic lighting, live music, and the actors and actresses ability to flawlessly transform these two dimensional sketches into living people that truly were Belle, the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, etc. in the flesh. The transformation was incredible, so much so that it was done again and again with other Disney movies such as The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Tarzan, and I'm sure there will be even more to come.

But could the animation to Broadway process be as effective if done the other way around? Can you successfully take all the elaborate bells and whistles of a Broadway play and squeeze them back into two-dimensions on a sheet of paper? Heidi Jo Gilbert, who draws storyboards for Nickelodeon, Pixar, and Disney attempts this with Broadway's Wicked and puts together a storyboard of the show's climatic act one finale:
Though these storyboards are great, they (in my opinion) fail to capture the magnificence of Wicked now that it has been given the creative liberty of the open stage for the past 8 years. What bothers me is not that a lot of the details are left to the viewers imagination, that is usually how most storyboards work, but that the sketches look similar to your generic cartoon girls instead of looking like those that made Wicked famous. The castle/clock tower look like those used in any other Disney movie. The magic, the individuality of the land of Oz gets lost in the transition.
Of course, a live-action movie version of Wicked has been in the works for a while now, due to its notorious success on the stage: My only hope is that this transition is as painless as possible.

While looking for other animated adaptations of Wicked, I came across someone who took his/her characters on the computer game The Sims, and turned them into his/her own version of the Wicked cast and reenacted every musical number through the computer game. Here is his/her's version of the musical's opening number: Pretty entertaining, though I can't imagine how long it took to create this!

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