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What other Woody Allen movies could be stage material?

February 24, 2012 |  9:30 am

  Woody Allen is in the process of adapting his 1994 movie "Bullets over Broadway" for the musical stage. What other Allen movies could work on the stage?
In his long career, Woody Allen has adapted some of his plays for the screen, including "Play it Again, Sam" and "Don't Drink the Water." But until now, he has never turned one of his movies into a stage play or musical.

Producers announced this week that Allen is in the process of adapting his 1994 movie "Bullets over Broadway" for the musical stage, aiming for a New York opening in 2013. The Oscar-winning movie seems like a natural fit for the theater -- a comedy about a Broadway production being adapted itself for Broadway.

The musical is being co-written by Allen and Douglas McGrath, from their original screenplay, and will feature period music from the Depression era. The movie tells the story of a struggling writer (John Cusack) who agrees to cast a gangster's girlfriend (Jennifer Tilly) in his new play in exchange for financing. Dianne Wiest won an Oscar playing a self-absorbed stage diva who exclaims "Don't speak!" in moments of creative ecstasy.

The project has us thinking: What other Allen movies would be suited for the stage? Don't worry -- we wouldn't dream of desecrating "Annie Hall," "Hannah and Her Sisters" or "Crimes and Misdemeanors." But if we had to choose, here are a handful of titles that could soar as either musicals or straight plays.

If you have other Allen titles you'd like to add to the list, don't speak -- put them in the comments section below.

"Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask" (1972): Is there stage-musical potential in Allen's adaptation of the classic sex manual? We think so. With some bawdy songs and perhaps some light updating, the material could be titillating and raucous. What's more, "The Book of Mormon" has proved that there's an audience for naughty musicals.

"Love and Death" (1975): Allen's spoof of Russian literature has the makings of a great musical farce. Think dancing and singing cossacks, and large musical numbers involving serfs. You could even keep the Prokofiev score, which is open domain.

"Interiors" (1978): Allen's first attempt at a serious drama was coldly received by many critics who believed that the director was too transparently channeling Ingmar Bergman. As the title indicates, most of the movie takes place indoors, with characters engaged in long, psychologically dense conversations -- a perfect premise for a stage play.

"September" (1987): Set entirely within the walls of a New England summer cottage, this ensemble drama feels like a play that has been transposed to film. It's no surprise that critics described it as Chekhovian when it opened in movie theaters. Of all of Allen's films, it feels the closest in spirit to a stage drama. Why not take the next step?

"Another Woman" (1988): This psychological drama about a female writer (Gena Rowlands) undergoing a spiritual crisis represents Allen at his most introspective. The movie's time-hopping structure is filmed in the style of a play, with Rowlands walking casually in and out of fantasy/flashback scenes. The only question: What to do about the voice-over narration?

"Everyone Says I Love You" (1996): Allen's only movie musical is probably the next obvious choice for a stage adaptation after "Bullets over Broadway." You'd have to again clear the rights to the famous songs performed by the cast. But after that, it would be a slam dunk.

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-- David Ng

Left photo: A scene from "Love and Death," with Frank Adu and Woody Allen. Credit: MGM

Right photo: A scene from "Interiors," with Diane Keaton, Kristin Griffith and Mary Beth Hurt. Credit: MGM

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