I would like to open up a discussion on this topic because, as I've seen from past comments, many of you have solid, creative ideas. Thusly, I would like to hear these ideas and, also, take a shot of tequila every time someone says, "Musicals suck." You just became my Monday night entertainment!
Musicals are the reason I became an actor. When I was seven, my mom took me to see my first Broadway musical, which was Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. My mom recalls that I literally sat on the edge of my seat, wide-eyed and mouth agape, mesmerized with the musical pageantry. I wanted it to be ME up there on stage. I wanted that to be MY Fabulous Colored Dream Parka.
Nowadays, we have Broadway shows that range anywhere from movie adaptations, like Shrek: The Musical and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (which resulted in half the crew getting injured from ridiculous wire acrobatics and the loss of millions of dollars) (lol), to The Book of Mormon, a tongue-in-cheek comedy written by the South Park guys. It seems like the high priests of Broadway are letting just about anyone make musicals these days… no matter how absurd the content.
This forces me to ask the obvious question: Why aren't there any video game musicals?
I don't mean musical games, even though Epic Mickey 2 is going down that road in classic Disney movie fashion. I mean musical performances based on games.
Fans seem to get it. A recent YouTube hit, Zelda: The Animated Musical, was surprisingly well done, plus we've seen Pac-Man: The Musical, Frogger: The Musical, even a Princess Peach musical called "The Best We Can Be," which I'm unashamed to admit I find hilarious. Even artists like BrentalFloss write lyrics to video game songs all the time that are practically begging to be put into a stage production.
So… where are these stage productions?
Someone emailed me years ago about this stage show of The Secret of Monkey Island, and you've got to love this live action presentation of Mike Tyson's Punch Out! But, alas, neither are true musicals.
This brings me to yet another question: If you could turn any video game into a live-action musical stage production, comedy or drama, which game would you choose?
I can see Castlevania, the Portal games, Elite Beat Agents, and even Psychonauts being fun romps, while more story-driven games like Odin Sphere, Indigo Prophecy, and Bioshock could make for a really beautiful show. (Not all musicals are happy and filled with sequined tap dance finales, you know.) Prince of Persia could definitely be a musical—think a more badass version of Aladdin. I'd also die and go to heaven if I heard a heart-wrenching power ballad from Red Dead Redemption's Bonnie MacFarlane that would emulate "On My Own" from Les Misérables or "Easy As Life" from the Elton John and Tim Rice musical, Aida.
Similarly, I've been thinking lately that it would be great to see more video game sketch comedy. I mean, heck, if I knew the Upright Citizens Brigade or another comedy troupe in my area performed video game-related sketches every Thursday night at 9, I'd blow off all sorts of prior engagements and hot dates to be a regular attendee. So, I did a little searching, and son of a bitch. I found NERDProv.
NERDpov is an improv group based out of Seattle, WA (meaning I moved away from the Northwest at exactly the worst time). They specialize in performances based on geek culture, and audience members get to shout out references to their favorite nerdy shows, movies, comics, music, and games—then NERDprov brings them to life on stage.
While NERDprov may be considered "niche" entertainment, they're certainly reaching a wide enough audience to be considered a success. They boast sold out shows and have filled 500+ rooms at Emerald City Comic Con. Audiences seem to love the fact that the show is tailor-made for them. A normal improv audience would merely chuckle at a reference to Bastion, while a NERDprov audience erupts with laughter—everyone gets it.
Case in point, if you're in the Seattle area, check out NERDprov and support more game-related live shows. A friend of mine from the show, Michael Robles, has threatened to throw me on stage during a performance in the future… so, please see the show, then report back to me with what kind of tomfoolery I'm in for.
We are treated to an endless stream of nerd-related performances in video form, but they still don't beat the thrill and unpredictability of live theater. To me, a movie version of a musical will never compare to seeing the real thing, where lines are messed up, costumes malfunction, and amazing performances from the actors are evident in their "Nailed it!" facial expressions. Theater, may your shows always go on.
But enough sentimental crap. All I'm saying is that if Hairspray can get away with the role of Edna Turnblad, a large, loud flamboyant stage mother played by a man, Broadway should have no problem letting a chubby Italian plumber sing to us in Super Mario: The Musical.
Tell me your thoughts, guys!
Kotaku Presents' debut season features Lisa Foiles, who is best known as the former star of Nickelodeon's award-winning comedy show, All That. She currently works as an actress/web host in Hollywood and is continuing to dabble in video game voiceovers. For more info, visit Lisa's official website She's also on Twitter.