It's show time!

Question: I was reading your answer about the play that was based on Dr. Strangelove and that got me to wondering if you know of any other really weird or unlikely movie-to-stage adaptations coming up. Thanks.


Answer: The avant-garde off-off-Broadway theater piece Major Bang, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dirty Bomb, freely adapted from Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), was indeed an odd one. But I have to say, it's at least matched and maybe topped by Grey Gardens, a musical adaptation of the 1975 documentary by Albert Maysles and his brother about an eccentric mother and daughter, both named Edith Bouvier Beale, who lived in abject squalor in a rambling East Hampton mansion. The women, known to friends as "Big Edie" and "Little Edie," were related to Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, which gave their sad story morbid celebrity appeal, but the documentary (which was featured in the 2005 "Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" episode of Gilmore Girls) is itself a serious and sobering examination of familial folie √† deux. Did I mention that the stage production is a musical? It opened to mixed reviews and universal praise for star Christine Ebersole, who plays Big Edie in the first act, which takes place in 1941 and gives a sense of what the women were like in better times, and Little Edie in the second, which takes place in the '70s.

That said, I was also pretty surprised when I saw an ad in the New York Times announcing an upcoming play called The Celebration, based on Festen (1998), an austere Danish psychodrama shot according to the technically restrictive principles of the Dogma 95 manifesto and directed by Dogma codrafter Thomas Vinterberg. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that contrary to my initial reaction, Festen is actually a natural for the stage: It observes the classical unities of time, space and action and it's full of the kind of meaty roles actors die for. It goes into previews at the end of March 2006. And though this isn't what you asked, the coincidence is so odd I feel compelled to mention that actor-turned-director Zach Braff, of TV's Scrubs and Garden State (2004), recently announced that the next movie he's going to direct is a remake of the Danish film Open Hearts, Susanne Bier's near-Dogma drama about the thorny relationship that develops between a young woman whose fianc√© is paralyzed in a car accident and the husband of the woman who ran him down.