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6rant6's avatar

Do you have an idea for a musical?

Asked by 6rant6 (13672points) January 31st, 2011

Sorry for the long winded preface… but it is necessary.

At a theater meeting tonight we considered the value of a new musical to be OWNED by the community theater.

So I’m looking for ideas of stories that could be written as musicals that are not copyrighted (e.g. Winne the Pooh is out) and hit as many of these as possible:

Has a good story
Is known to adults
Is known to children
Has music in the story
Isn’t about killing
Has multiple known characters
Features kids in the story
Has an education tie in
__(please suggest others!)__

We were thinking about Paul Bunyan, Hiawatha, “Godless Thomas Jefferson,” Plymouth Rock, etc. Please come up with something better!

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12 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Are you saying you want it to be based in history?—because if you base it on fiction, rights are going to be an issue. Why must it already be known?

There’s all of mythology of all nations at your disposal, though, in the public domain, and it usually comes packed with larger-than-life characters, some of them well known, and plenty of moral and life lessons. Many bucketloads have been drawn from that well already, and it’s nowhere near dry.

6rant6's avatar

@Jeruba Old fiction that has lapsed copyright is available for use. It doesn’t have to be historic. Well known means that it’s easier to draw an audience. I’ve considered mythology, and Hans Cristian Anderson, and Poe, and Brother’s Grimm. All possible.

I’m looking for specific ideas – things that would make YOU go, “Oh yeah, I’d see that!”

BarnacleBill's avatar

You might get some inspiration from listening to the Classical Kids CDs, Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, Tchaikovsky Discovers America. I’m not suggesting that you do one of these stories, but the way that they are written may spark something for you.

Since many schools no longer teach music as part of the curriculum, there are a lot of traditional American songs that are totally lost on younger generations.

Sunny2's avatar

Life with Father; The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew; Little Women; I Remember Mama; fairy tales in general. Look what they did with “The Princess and the Pea.”

iamthemob's avatar

As @6rant6 mentions, look here to see what books have fallen into the public domain. Here’s another list, and here are some short stories.

Personally, I would stay away from the old school politicians for now just because of originality concerns – of course, it might be beneficial to ride the coattails of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

snowberry's avatar

Any fairy tale or folk tale. Put your own twist on it.

Jeruba's avatar

I, for one, would like to see fairy tales and folk tales dramatized without a twist just for a change. Most people don’t know them at all any more, except in someone’s modern version with a twist. And what’s the meaning of a twist if no one knows what it’s a twist on?

The thing with folk tales and fairy tales, apart from a lot of violence, is that most of them are very short; they can be read or told in a few minutes. And the more filler you add, the more the stories lose in character and vitality. Some become virtually all filler; Disney’s takes on fairy tales come to mind.

If you insist on having familiar characters, you’re certain to be plowing well-turned ground. Why not go instead for familiar archetypes? There are thousands of lesser-known stories, of both known and unknown authorship, with plenty of dramatic potential.

6rant6's avatar

@jeruba And they have a limited numbers of characters which makes them either need to be combined or gimmicked up.

My experience is that audiences are leery of “collections”.

I also had a bizarre experience a few years back when a school backed out from attending a performance of two one acts because the English teacher asserted that the plays had nothing to do with literature. The plays’ author: Anton Checkhov.

Jeruba's avatar

@6rant6, it sounds like a safe bet that that teacher also had nothing to do with literature.

I take it you were part of the show?

6rant6's avatar

I was directing. Youththeatre. In this case, high school kids.

BarnacleBill's avatar

If “Batboy” can be made into a musical, why not “Bigfoot”?

Jeruba's avatar

I thought the one that really took the cake for unlikelihood was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

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