Weekend Roundtable: The Next Live TV Musical

If you didn’t happen to watch it earlier this week, Fox’s production of ‘Grease Live!’ was an order of magnitude more ambitious and better realized than any of NBC’s recent live musicals (and I say that as someone who doesn’t really care for either ‘Grease’ or musical theater). With that success, surely more of these things are coming. What do you think should be the next live TV musical event?

By “next,” I don’t literally mean the next one. Fox has already lined up a Tyler Perry religious rock opera and NBC is prepping ‘Hairspray’. After those, though, what suggestions do you have for the networks? Your choices need not actually be musicals… yet.

Shannon Nutt

Proving that there’s no property safe from being exploited, NBC (which is part of Universal) brings TV viewers ‘Jaws: The Musical’! Naturally, this will air during Shark Week. Everyone in ‘Jaws: The Musical’, including the shark, sings with a thick Bostonian accent, making the actors almost impossible to understand. You’ll laugh during the big beach number, “That’s One Bad Hat, Harry” and cry during Quint’s a cappella number, “Swimmin’ with Bow-Legged Women.”

Mike Attebery

Seeing as it’s an election year, and at least a few of the candidates remind me of Greg Stillson, I’d like to see one of the networks pull out all the stops and do ‘The Dead Zone: The Musical – LIVE!’

M. Enois Duarte

In a world where dearly beloved classics are no longer untouchable, I wonder when the inevitable ‘Die Hard: The Musical’ will take Broadway (and later television) by storm. I can already see it now. From the same people who brought you ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ comes the stunt-filled extravaganza of the century with latest technologically-advanced special effects to grace the stage.

With lyrics and music by Nickelback, the production can feature someone like Eddie Redmayne or Kit Harrington as Hans Gruber, who breaks out into an awesome song and dance routine about finally opening the vault with lights and lasers that shoot into the audience.

Now, for the role of John McClane, that’s a tough one. But hey! Let’s shoot for the stars and have the wisecracking smartass Bill Burr take on the challenge of saying lines immortalized by Bruce Willis. He might actually do an awesome job hanging from the ceiling as the top of the Nakatomi Plaza building explodes, while singing about whether or not he’ll come out of this alive. ‘Die Hard: The Musical’ has Broadway sensation and TV ratings smash written all over it!

Brian Hoss

Since I doubt a live version of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ could be any worse than the Burton/Depp movie, one should be fast-tracked. Maybe they could get adult age comedic actors to play the children. I see Patton Oswalt as Augustus Gloop and Rebel Wilson as Violet Beauregarde. They could bring back Christopher Walken (who was in ‘Peter Pan Live’) to play Wonka, but with the same basic performance as Captain Hook. The key is to get as much candy flying around as possible and to make the children stand around during the Oompa Loompa numbers.

Luke Hickman

As much as I’d like to respond with something really inappropriate (like ‘Schindler’s List Live!’), I’ll go with something that I could actually see happening in the near future. Having come from ‘SNL’, Will Ferrell is no stranger live television. He’s also broken outside the norm with his crappy Lifetime movie, so I’d like to see him follow suit by doing a grand scale live musical event: ‘Anchorman Live!’ Instead of filming a second sequel, it would be nice to see Ron Burgundy and his misfit crew of anchors take on their next challenge in the form of live, musical, dance-filled television. Who’s with me?

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I was mulling over a list of mostly ridiculous suggestions for this Roundtable (my favorite: ‘Grease Live! Live!’) when I floated the idea by my wife. Sure enough, her suggestion trumped anything I could come up with.

We can both genuinely imagine ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Live!’ being a thing. Maybe not primetime on NBC or Fox, no, but there’s an audience for this somewhere, even if it’s ultimately only online. I’m sure the cast would be game to revisit this infectiously fun musical, and it doesn’t hurt the prospects for viewership that basically all of ’em have become even more famous over the eight years since Joss Whedon’s webisode series first premiered. The modest number of locations suits a live production well, and it’d be fun to see the visual effects work tackled in-camera. As recently as this past October, Joss Whedon was still talking about a sequel, and a completely live performance might be a great way to set the stage.

Mrs. Z

After much consideration, I think there’s only one way to go: a live staging of ‘Cats’ featuring actual cats. Internet star Tardar Sauce (you may know him by his stage name Grumpy Cat) would be a natural for the Rum Tum Tugger role. Sure, his star turn in the Lifetime Original movie ‘Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever’ was universally panned, but we all know that was Aubrey Plaza’s fault.

To capture the under 35 demo, we’ll need a bit of ’90s nostalgia stunt casting. Who better as the old conjuring cat Mr. Mistoffelees than Salem from ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’?! Mister Bigglesworth from ‘Austin Powers’ would be a tour de force in a surprise turn as the washed-up diva Grizabella. Internet cat stars Maru and Little Bub would also have featured roles. The production should also give some relative unknowns a chance to shine. The rest of the Jellicle tribe would be selected from the ranks of past kitten bowl participants.

Live television thrives on unpredictability. What could be more unpredictable than three hours of ‘Cats Live’? Ratings gold.

Josh Zyber

I think the premium cable channels where nudity and profanity are allowed (even encouraged) need to get in on this live musical renaissance. Wouldn’t ‘Showgirls Live!’ be a perfect fit for the Starz network?

Keeping in tradition with the movie, the story’s heroine, pole-dancing diva bitch Nomi Malone, should be played by a young starlet famous for a wholesome kiddie TV series. I’m thinking Miranda Cosgrove from ‘iCarly’. If that doesn’t do it for you, substitute another former teen star who’s now of legal age. (I don’t keep up with these things.)

From box office flop to TV ratings smash, what an ideal rags-to-riches story that would be!

What live musical would you tune in to see? Tell us in the Comments.


  1. Shannon Nutt

    I’m sitting here laughing at Luke’s entry because – I too – immediately thought of “Schindler’s List: The Musical!” but, like Luke, figured that was taking things a little too far, even for this forum. 🙂

  2. Since they seem to like going the conventional route (Peter pan, Sound Of Music) I’d like to see them do something a little less vanilla. Something like Ragtime. Bring in some dance with Contact. Or Cotton Club Parade (a revue, but a good one).

  3. Bolo

    I’m really looking forward to seeing what Debbie Gibson can bring to the role made famous by Björk in ‘Dancer in the Dark: Live & On Stage!’ It’s all about reaching that broader audience. I picture the parts in prison having way more of a ‘Jailhouse Rock’ vibe.

  4. William Henley

    I am going to go entirely serious on this and say an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Phantom of the Opera is a first choice, with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat being second.

    I would also LOVE to see something that there is not already a movie or some type of recording of – for example, The Book of Mormon, Matilda, Mary Poppins, Lion King, Little House on the Prairie, Spamalot, etc.

    But aside from the wish lists, I would imagine that one that will probably come very soon will be My Fair Lady.

    What would be cool, but I doubt we will see them due to copyrights is Across The Universe and Mamma Mia.

  5. charles contreras

    Here’s some over the top ideas that I think would draw an audience:

    Slap Shot, with a special cameo appearance by the original Hanson Brothers who perform an original number while doing a number over the heads of the opposing team.

    Dracula, based on the Bela Lugosi version.

    Night of The Living Dead, based on the original film, with the cast made up/dressed in black & white, as well as the scenery.

    And this would be a real longshot, Smokey and The Bandit. It would be tough to pull it off, but who knows?

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