Halloween special – which spooky movies would stage stars love to see adapted into musicals?
Their picks would be a dream (or nightmare) come true!
Happy Halloween to all our fiendishly fabulous readers!
While you all continue to patiently wait with bated breath for a West End transfer of hit musical Beetlejuice, we thought we'd treat you to a special Halloween feature.
We decided to ask eight talented stage actors from scarily good West End and touring productions the following question: if you could adapt any spooky movie for the stage, which would it be and why?
Brace yourselves for some spine-tingling responses...
Glenn Adamson from Bat Out of Hell
"For me it has to be Scream: The Musical all set to the back catalogue of Alice Cooper. ‘He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)' would be the opening number. I'd probably make it immersive too! No thought more terrifying than sprinting from an actor in a Scream mask, chasing you with a plastic dagger, whilst an ensemble of teens belt ‘Schools Out for Summer' at you! Hopefully I can convince Courtney Cox to make her West End debut, to shift some tickets, and reprise her role as the reporter, she can close act one with ‘Only Women Bleed'. It's a sure fire hit.
"Scream has a terrifying place in my heart after my brother locked me in our dark attic as a kid and made me watch it alone in its entirety. I still get palpitations when I see the mask! So I probably wouldn't be able to watch the stage version, but happy to sit at home on Halloween and watch the royalty cheques roll in instead."
Laura Whitmore from 2:22 A Ghost Story
"I would love to see The Nightmare Before Christmas on stage because I think Tim Burton is The King when it comes to 'scare' and he does it with such a creative flair. It would have to have puppetry in it and you could do so many things with it. It would be brilliant in terms of set design – mixing the colour and the darkness – and that Danny Elfman music!
"It brings Christmas and Halloween together, which are the two best things in life. This is going to sound a bit weird, but I remember thinking that the lead character Jack [Skellington] was quite fit. I also fancied Sonic the Hedgehog as a kid. I had weird taste. But Jack is the heartthrob that we never knew we needed."
Matt Blaker from The Phantom of the Opera
"As someone who has a very overactive imagination and is easily scared – I have memories of being at drama school and watching the first Insidious movie whilst hiding behind a pillow under a blanket... I was twenty – I'm not sure I'm the best person to ask! However, I would love to see a West End version of The Cabin In The Woods, transform the whole theatre into the round, and have an immersive cabin experience.
"The premise of the film is that five friends staying in a deserted cabin inadvertently summon a variety of monsters, and wouldn't it be cool (and terrifying) to have these monsters appear throughout the auditorium, taking the audience by surprise. The action could be spread across the entire theatre, much like Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club. I'm already getting tense at the thought of the jump scares!"
Sophie-Louise Dann from Wicked
"I'd love to see the spooky comedy film Murder by Death adapted for the stage. It's crying out for a musical adaptation! The original film starred Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Maggie Smith and David Niven and featured a screenplay by Neil Simon. Great comedy and range of character parts.
"Five of the greatest private detectives are invited to dinner at a remote castle by millionaire Lionel Twain. A murder will occur at midnight… But by midnight the host has disappeared, the butler is dead and a million dollars is at stake. Who will survive the night to solve the murder mystery? May I pitch the idea to the amazing team of Pasek and Paul for a heart-stopping score? Of course I couldn't comment on casting, but who wouldn't ‘kill' to play a role in it?"
Stephen Webb from The Rocky Horror Show
"When I was growing up the one film I used to have nightmares about was The Ring. It follows a journalist who investigates a nightmarish videotape which causes anyone who watches it to mysteriously die in seven days. It's such an iconic film, I really can't believe it hasn't been adapted for the stage before.
"I think it would be interesting to see this film reworked for stage because there haven't been many psychological horror stories brought to life this way. The Ring is definitely a classic, and it is always fun to reimagine classics in new ways. I think the most exciting part about a stage version would be bringing all the supernatural elements to life. The special effects could be breathtaking, especially the part where the young girl crawls out of the well and out of the TV (if you know, you know!). Watching that scene really gives me the chills, seeing it on stage would be incredible.
"I really think a stage version of The Ring could be as scary and powerful as the film. I think it would leave you feeling quite on-edge and unsettled and isn't that what a good horror show is all about!"
Matthew Spencer from The Woman in Black
"I love scary movies! Some of my favourites are The Ring and Paranormal Activity, but if I had to choose a scary movie that I'd like to see adapted for the stage I'd have to choose Candyman. This movie, the 1992 original, terrified me when I first watched it as a teenager. A brilliantly simple and yet utterly petrifying concept, say the word 'Candyman' five times and he will appear and kill you. I'd watched the film with friends and, of course, we then dared each other to say 'Candyman' into the mirror five times, jumping out and scaring each other in the process.
"One of the most exciting things about being in a theatre is the fact that you're seeing things live, anything could happen and from anywhere. The whole theatre can be used, and much like in The Woman in Black, nowhere is safe: on stage, in the auditorium, anywhere… This could be used to create a frightening version of Candyman in the theatre, with the titular character appearing from anywhere. Mirrors play a large part in the film and story and this theme could be utilised too with mirror images coming to life. Come on, someone make this!"
Samantha Womack from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
"The piece of work I would most like to see adapted for the stage is The Shining: The Musical. Obviously Rita (Simons) and I would resurrect the sisters from EastEnders as the really odd twins in the corridor (slightly older versions).
"I think it's a freaky idea and no-one would expect to see it as a musical. Maybe you could have an axe number. You'd have a number in the maze and the old lady in the bath could do a solo song. It would be a fun entertaining evening for all ages with souvenirs and merchandise including an axe, a broken door, a t-shirt with the twins on it and a mini-bath tub!"
Note: Although we'd love to see a musical version too, a stage adaptation of The Shining by Simon Stephens is indeed rumoured for a 2023 West End premiere, with Ivo van Hove at the helm and actor Ben Stiller attached.
Matt Willis from 2:22 A Ghost Story
"If I could have any scary, Halloween-y movie on stage, it would be Gremlins! Because Halloween is great, but it's also very short. You could run this show from coming up to October to the end of January quite easily. It's got the scares. It's got Christmas vibes. In terms of the little monsters, you'd have to work out how to stage it with puppets. That would be the difficult part. But my co-star Laura Whitmore said you could possibly do it Avenue Q-style with real people actually holding the gremlins. That would be great!
"It's got good music in it, but it doesn't have to be a musical. It could be a really cool, scary play. Imagine if you were in the audience and then loads of little gremlins came running down the aisle! And if it was a musical, I think Busted would be well-up for writing a score for it! Gremlins, come on! Someone do it!"