Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thriller - The Musical?

"Directed by John Landis, 'Thriller' is a complicated, baroque video with relatively few close-ups and so many zombies that it can be hard to tell what's going on. Watching it on a small screen is like taking in Spartacus on an iPhone." -- From Neda Ulaby's NPR story Shrinking Music Videos: More Thrills, Less 'Thriller'

Have you heard the news yet...Michael Jackson has sold the rights to the Nederlander Organization to make a Broadway Production of 'Thriller.'

The Nederlander Organization is an important organization to the Broadway world for their ownership and production assistance in various productions since it was founded in 1912. They've had a respectable role in producing and booking such shows as Wicked, Hairspray, Rent, The Lion King, Chicago, and Sunset name a few.

Now, they're interested in 'Thriller.'

Honestly, I'm surprised Jerry Bruckheimer didn't think of it first.

Released in 1982 Michael Jackson's Thriller album became a year after it was released the top selling album of all time, and it remains the best selling album today.

The song 'Thriller' was actually the last of the seven singles released from the album. Earlier singles included 'The Girl is Mine,' 'Billie Jean,' 'Beat It,' 'Wanna Be Startin' Something,' 'Human Nature,' 'P.Y.T.,' and finally 'Thriller.'

The release of 'Thriller' as a single occured well over a year after the 1982 CD was released. Shortly after the popular music video premiered on MTV in December of 1983.

The album version of 'Thriller' was just under 6 minutes long, but the full music video version directed by John Landis last almost 14 minutes.

The very successful music video, I'm sure you remember tells the story of a Michael Jackson proposing to his girlfriend (Ola Rey) in the forest and then confessing that he is a werewolf...but then you realize it's really just a movie in a theater, where Michael Jackson and his girlfriend are watching the story. Jackson's girlfriend gets scared, rushes out of the theater, but then they find themselves in a grave yard where Michael Jackson starts dancing with Zombies. And the poor girl friend gets chased around a grave yard and abandoned house, before waking up and realizing it was all a dream...and Michael asks her "What's the problem?" and reveals scary werewolf eyes.

Initial Thoughts on Thriller as a Musical
I commend the Nederlander Organization for trying to capture some 80s pop-culture in hope of perhaps picking up more theater patrons.

I imagine the success of Mamma Mia! is surely in part an inspiration

I wonder if other Zombie/Vampire film success stories, including this Twilight might also inspire this?

Does interest in this project show that people have forgotten how weird and creepy Michael Jackson was in Martin Bashir's documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" from 2003.

How in the world are they going to stretch out this story into a full length musical? Will they include other Jackson songs, or right new ones?

Director John Landis has already sued Jackson over royalties associated with the video, will this tie things up or stop the musical from even happening?

Vincent Price's role and voice work seems to have added so much to the original music video, will they use his previous recorded voice work or will they cast the role of Vincent Price?

Speaking of casting, who will play Michael Jackson?

Can a Broadway musical version of Thriller win any Tony awards?

I have mixed feelings between thinking this is totally weird and also thinking 'why not' at the same time.


Terence Towles Canote said...

Really, if there is anything I don't want to see adapted as a musical, it's anything by Michael Jackson.

Anonymous said...

I love Michael Jackson's 80s music. I have made you suffer through his 2 disc greatest hits while I clean the house.

That said...this is, totally, really wierd. I heard this NPR story yesterday and I think I acutally turned a CD on in my car as soon as the story was over. I think I was trying to forget my brief and painful image of Thriller being made into a full-length musical. Not to mention the challenge of casting Jackson, the 1980s version.

Anonymous said...

First - this is a dumb idea.

Second - Landis is now suing Jackson over the profits from this song, including the musical version of it.

Jackson needs to go into the studio and cough up something he hasn't had in fifteen years: a hit single.

Barring that, the guy will be living with Jermaine by the end of the year.

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