It might surprise you, but the folks behind some of Broadway’s biggest hits were often sports fans. Before the smash hit Damn Yankees, Jerry Ross and Richard Adler’s 1955 baseball-themed retelling of the Faust legend, there was Good News, a 1927 musical written by Laurence Schwab, B.G. DeSylva, and Lew Brown, which followed a college football star. And last summer’s cheerleader musical Bring It On (based on the ’90s cult classic starring Kirsten Dunst) just earned a 2013 Tony nomination for Best Musical. It’s no shock that another famous sports movie, Rocky, is also headed to Broadway in musical form. One imagines there are plenty of other sports-themed movies that would make terrific Broadway musicals. Here are a few solid suggestions.
A League of Their Own
Penny Marshall’s 1992 comedy about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League brought in big bucks at the box office, legitimized Madonna’s acting career, and forged a complicated relationship between basic human emotions and baseball. It’d also make a great musical. What better way for Madonna to regain some of her relevance than by writing some lyrics for a Broadway adaptation in the vein of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5: The Musical or her pop-star contemporary Cyndi Lauper’s work with this year’s Kinky Boots. After all, she’s already got one solid tune with the film’s theme, “This Used to Be My Playground.”
Long-distance running is probably the easiest spectator sport to stage in a theater, and a plethora of treadmills would be all a director would need to simulate a big old foot race. Beyond the gimmick of exercise equipment playing a major theatrical role, this hypothetical musical would feature familiar dramatic tropes, such as the father-and-son-like bond between Steve Prefontaine, and his coach, Bill Bowerman, as well as a tragic ending. And how often do you see ’70s-era tank tops and mustaches in a musical?
Field of Dreams
Sports movies are, generally, the kinds of movies that are most likely to make your dad tear up. Why not find a good excuse to drag him to Times Square so he can cry along while watching a live performance? The 1989 Kevin Costner hit about the reincarnation of Shoeless Joe and his seven Black Sox teammates is the perfect material for Broadway’s most apprehensive demographic: old guys from the Midwest. Sure, the mysterious voice from the cornfield might get all of the best songs, but “(If You Build It) He Will Come,” “Ease His Pain,” and “Go the Distance” practically write themselves.
She’s the Man
Consider this a plea for Amanda Bynes to get her life together and take a starring turn on Broadway. The 2006 comedy is arguably the best teen adaptation of a William Shakespeare play (sorry, Ten Things I Hate About You), and the retelling of Twelfth Night set within the world of high-school soccer is the kind of ridiculous, escapist material for a Broadway musical. In addition, you’ve got some hilarious cross-dressing, which is always well received on the New York stage. (This year’s Broadway season included three gender-bending leads.) Plus, Amanda Bynes proved she could sing (a couple of lines, at least) in the movie-musical remake of John Waters’s Hairspray. Just imagine the potential Twitter meltdowns!
Sure, BASEketball is a fake sport, and only the most die-hard South Park fans can love this goofball movie, but if Trey Parker and Matt Stone can sweep the Tony Awards with The Book of Mormon, it makes perfect sense that the rowdy pair go for the low-hanging fruit and adapt one of their dumb comedies into a dumb crowd-pleasing musical comedy. Just imagine the blue-haired matinee audience having gigantic balls lobbed at them from the stage! The potential for disaster would be greater (and more exciting) than Spider-Man.