The release of Cameron Mackintosh’s screen production of Les Misérables into
cinemas in December 2012 reopened an age-old debate: how do you adapt
Broadway musicals for the big screen? The urge to capitalise on the
commercial triumph of material that was written for the stage has often
brought uncomfortable results, with no clear strategy for success.
Sometimes, a new team of writers is brought in to write a different
score under the same title, as with On the Town(1949), many of whose Bernstein songs were replaced. Similarly,The Band Wagon(1953)
features its Broadway star (Fred Astaire), title and a few songs, but
is otherwise quite distinct from its source as a revue. For the screen
version of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever(1970),
Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane reconceived their script and score
around a specific new performer, Barbra Streisand, making numerous
changes to their Broadway show along the way. Other films are much more
faithful to their Broadway counterparts, such asMy Fair Lady(1964) andWest Side Story(1961), but sometimes this approach is criticised as failing to acknowledge the change of medium, with "stagey” results.
of text, star, technology and audience can unsettle the apparent
stability of a Broadway hit and this conference aims to deal head on
with this discomfort/instability. Film scholars, musicologists,
practitioners, historians and sociologists are equally encouraged to
participate in this truly interdisciplinary conference. The keynote
speech will be given by Professor Geoffrey Block (author of "Enchanted
Evenings"), and the conference respondent will be Professor Stephen
Banfield (author of "Sondheim's Broadway Musicals").
presentation formats are strongly favoured. In particular, we would
like to encourage panels in which scholars and practitioners from a
variety of backgrounds will have the opportunity to discuss ideas
including (but not limited to) the following:
- The impact of changing star performers between stage and screen
- Problems of condensing or retaining material for the screen
- Ideas of authenticity and faithfulness in reproducing stage shows on the screen
- Archival evidence illustrating the adaptation process
- Analytical comparisons of parts of the stage and screen versions of a musical
discussions regarding changes of audience resulting in screen
adaptation (e.g. from New York to a global audience)
Proposals for twenty-minute papers, panels or other presentation formats should besubmitted electronically byTuesday 10 September 2013, 11:59 p.m.Students wishing to present developmental work are warmly encouraged to apply to speak for 5-10 minutes if they prefer.
Abstracts should be around 250 words and may be accompanied by a CV. Please send files in .doc or .pdf formats.
Send all proposals to email@example.com
is expected that some of the presenters will be invited to develop
their papers into chapters for a subsequent book publication.
For queries, please contact conference convenor Dominic McHugh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Restaging the Song conference is part of The University of Sheffield’s Stagestruck! Broadway Meets Hollywood Festival,14-18 May 2014. It includes screenings of seven film adaptations of Broadway musicals to complement the conference, including Roberta (14 May), Funny Girl (1968, 15 May), Show Boat (1936, 16 May), The Band Wagon (1953, 17 May), Les Miserables(2012, 17 May), On the Town(1949, 18 May) and Dreamgirls (2006, 18 May).
Each film will be introduced by a guest speaker, and there will be an
exhibition of posters and memorabilia in the Workstation, adjacent to
the conference room. Book launches and other events will be announced in