There are two new musicals coming to movie screens this holiday season: "Annie" is getting a reboot, while Steven Sondheim‘s "Into the Woods" will see its first-ever trip to the multiplex. And that’s actually good news for some stage theater producers, who have found a way to capitalize on these star-driven adaptations.
Take the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills, for example. According to Patricia Wolff, the center's artistic director, its production of "Into the Woods" is selling well, in part because of the film.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but across the country there’s a whole slew of 'Into The Woods' productions happening,” Wolff says. “It is in the moment right now, it is in the magazines, so from my point of view it made total sense.”
It’s a strange kind of synergy. We all know Hollywood loves adapting material with a built-in fan base, but you might expect the film to kill the live theater box office. As it turns out, that’s just not the case: over the next year, more than 200 regional theater companies and high-schools plan to do "Into the Woods," and that number is expected to keep climbing.
Jason Cocovinis is with Music Theater International, a licensing agency based in New York. And he says that “when a movie property comes out based on one of our properties, we expect it will help the licensing for a year or two following the release of the film.”
MTI also has the rights to "Annie" and "Peter Pan," the latter of which just had a live version performed on NBC. When asked if it all that free publicity had them drooling, Cocovinis replied: “Absolutely, yes!”
For the stage actors, it may be a little nerve-wracking to do the same material that Oscar winners are also performing onscreen, but a bigger audience is worth it. Miriam Laube, who plays the Witch in the Annenberg production, says, “I am thrilled to watch Meryl Streep. I can’t wait to see what she’s going to do.”
If you’d like to see for yourself who makes the better crone, "Into the Woods" will be at the Wallis Annenberg through December 21 and opens in movie theaters on Christmas Day. "Annie" is set to be released on December 19th.