Will Farrell’s 'Elf' movie inspires Broadway musical

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In recent years, New York's Broadway theaters have had successful runs with musicals based on known entities, such as movies. The most recent entry is Elf, the 2003 film, starring Will Farrell, in workshops for the 2010 Christmas season.

Elf, the Musical enjoyed staged readings last week to a favorable response. The story sticks close to the film's plot, telling of a boy who crawled into Santa's bag of toys and was raised by elves at the North Pole. When he grows up, the oversized elf arrives in Manhattan to search for his father and real identity.

Though movies historically have adapted Broadway fare, from The Sound of Music to Chicago, and this season's Nine, the tables turned with theatrical productions more commonly based on films, partly due to the risky nature of the venture and high costs. Today many film screenplays are adapted from books.

Recent hit Broadway shows inspired by movies include: John Water's Hairspray, Dolly Parton's 9 to 5, Disney's The Lion King, Elton John's Billy Elliot, Oprah Winfrey's The Color Purple, Mel Brook's Young Frankenstein, Shrek, the Musical (nominated for a 2010 Grammy), The Addams Family, Legally Blonde, and the upcoming Spider-Man.

The producer of Elf, the Musical is Warner Bros. which has assembled a strong creative team to stage the show. The songwriters are Matthew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics) of The Wedding Singer, the story is co-written by Thomas Meehan ( The Producers, Hairspray), and Bob Martin (Tony winner, The Drowsy Chaperone).

Choreographer Casey Nicholaw ( Spamalot) directed the reading, featuring George Wendt ( Cheers) as Santa Claus and Beth Leavel ( Mamma Mia) as the elf's mother.
With the success of this season's White Christmas, the Musical, based on the Bing Crosby movie of 1954, Elf could look to be an annual holiday production, starting next year.