As the big musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” continues to have technical problems, it’s worth a look at Broadway’s more fantastic history. Think NYC’s Broadway theater scene dabbles only in perky chorus girls and flashy musical numbers extolling the virtues of happiness, hearth and home? Think again, my stage loving stooges. Musical theater can encompass all manner of plot and theme, and that includes things a bit dark, or even scary. Shows like “Sweeney Todd” or “Phantom of The Opera” are not only audience and critical favorites, but prove that Broadway loves a good scare or two.
Little Shop of Horrors
What started as a low budget Roger Corman flick morphed into a stage show, then back into a film directed by none other than Frank Oz(Miss Piggy), starring Rick Moranis. The stage show features a humongous space borne plant out for human snacks – a kind of predatory Venus flytrap which has traded in insects for people. Although more love story than anything else, and wickedly funny, many victims die savagely, only adding to the scare factor.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Written by British playwright Richard O’Brien, who cast himself as Riff Raff, the stage show wowed English audiences, later came to the Broadway stage, then filmed as quirky movie which has attained mythic cult status. The stage show is full of as much energy as the Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Tim Curry starring film, and now the producers of FOX’s hit show Glee are said to be remaking it as another movie.
Phantom of the Opera
A sweeping romantic epic, but still a dark stage classic based upon French novelist Gaston Leroux’s book. Andrew Lloyd Weber’s production opened up in London in 1986, then on Broadway in 1988. It’s a dark tale in many ways, and it’s got more than a few scary moments, however the fact that it’s now the longest running musical in Broadway history isn’t frightening at all – just really profitable.
Night of the Hunter
Based on the novel and film of the same name, this is certainly not your typical Broadway fare. Most people know it from the Charles Laughton directed movie starring Shelly Winters and Robert Mitchum. It’s a dark tale of murder and mayhem, written by Stephen Cole for the stage, and the show ran most recently in Dallas
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street
This 1979 Stephen Sondheim stage show starred Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou – as two rather odd birds who engaged in an even odder darker dining experience. Johnny Depp took on the challenge of the rather violent, though still sympathetic role in Tim Burton’s lavish film production in 2007.