Entertainment & Arts

Carrie, cereal and four more unusual inspirations for musicals

Scene from Come From Away Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rachel Tucker plays a pilot in Come From Away

The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks might not seem like the most obvious inspiration for a musical, but it's the subject of a new West End show.

Come From Away tells the true story of a small Canadian town that took in 7,000 stranded plane passengers after the attacks.

The Broadway production won the Tony award for best direction.

However, some critics of the London version felt the show glossed over the trauma of 9/11.

It's not the most unusual subject to become a musical, though. Here are six other real-life and fictional stories that got the song and dance treatment.

1. Carrie

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Carrie was a successful film, starring Sissy Spacek, before it became a musical flop

Plots about teenagers coming of age are something of a musical staple.

But while the likes of West Side Story continue to delight audiences, the public didn't take a musical version of Stephen King's horror novel Carrie to their hearts.

The song and dance routine about slaughtering a pig, at the opening of the second act, might have put some theatre-goers off.

Broadway's most notorious flop ran for only three days, when it opened in 1988. An off-Broadway revival in 2012 fared slightly better, but still closed early.

2. Diana, Princess of Wales

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Princess Diana in Edmonton, Canada, in 1983

More than 20 years after her death, Princess Diana's life story continues to fascinate writers.

She's already inspired a 2013 film starring Naomi Watts and the Monica Ali novel Untold Story. A musical about her life begins previews in the US on Tuesday.

Diana: A New Musical focuses on Diana's life in her twenties and features 23 songs from Bon Jovi's keyboard player David Bryan.

Bryan says he's used different musical styles to represent each character: "Diana is pop-rock, royalty is string quartet, we have paparazzi as punk guitars and we try to make all those roles live on top of each other."

Early readings of the musical were closed to critics, so we'll have to wait until the first preview to find out more.

This isn't the first musical to be written about Diana. Footage of a different production at a Tennessee community theatre has become a viral hit on social media.

If that's piqued your interest, you can watch the whole show here.

3. A cereal cafe

Image copyright PA
Image caption Cereal cafe founders Alan and Gary Keery didn't expect their shop to spark protests...let alone a musical

The story of the opening of the Cereal Killer cafe in east London has been made into a musical.

The cafe, which went on to become a chain, sparked angry protests from locals when it opened in Shoreditch in 2014.

The musical, originally called Spilt Milk and now renamed The Cereal Cafe, has been in development for two years.

The news that the hipster cafe was to become a musical did not go down well with some on social media.

A workshop version of The Cereal Cafe opens in London later this month for a three-day run, so you can see for yourself if it really heralds the end of civilisation.

4. Public toilets

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Image caption Urinetown is set in a society where everyone must pay to pee

Greg Kotis got the idea for his toilet-themed musical, Urinetown, when he encountered his first pay-per-use public loo.

The satirical show is set in a future where private toilets have been banned, after years of drought.

Critics and audiences managed to see past the show's rather unappealing name. Urinetown ran on Broadway for three years and scooped a trio of Tonys.

The news that the show was to open in London in 2014 led many reviewers to break out their worst toilet puns. The best of the bunch came from The Guardian's Michael Billington, who dubbed Urinetown "the Spend-a-Penny Opera that's a welcome relief".

5. The Shroud of Turin

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Image caption The Shroud of Turin is a strip of linen that some people believe was used to wrap Jesus's body after the crucifixion

Who wouldn't want to see a musical about a scientist who becomes obsessed with finding out whether the Shroud of Turin really was Jesus's burial cloth?

Before you answer, keep in mind that it features a high-kicking priest, dancing nuns, and such timeless lyrics as: "To measure the darkness, you must stand in the dark. But when you stand in the dark, you cannot see a thing."

Despite this, almost nobody went to see the 1986 Broadway musical Into The Light.

It closed after just six performances.

6. Dinosaur genitalia

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The cast of Triassic Parq do their best dinosaur impressions in rehearsals

If you ever wanted to watch Jurassic Park told from the point of view of the dinosaurs, then the 2012 off-Broadway musical comedy Triassic Parq is for you.

Described by the New York Times as a "bawdy tribute to dinosaurs and their newfound genitalia", the show follows a group of dinosaurs whose lives are thrown into chaos when one of the females spontaneously turns male.

Needless to say, the show didn't achieve quite the same success as the Michael Crichton novel or the Stephen Spielberg film that inspired it.


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