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Day 9: In Which I Will Pretend I Am Smart

Thursdays are my day off, so instead of talking about the events of today, I'll talk a bit about the shows that the Stage Righters are putting on this camp.

Analyzing the similarities and differences between stage and film adaptations is a complex topic that is worthy of Actual Research itself, so to keep this blog post brief, I will only touch on a few details for each show.

The 2002 movie was my introduction to Chicago, when a friend let me borrow her VHS tape of it in high school. It's been a while since then, so I'll focus on the changes I remember.

When adapting a stage show for film, so many concerns come into play, especially framing each shot. Whereas the audience of a theater has a view of the whole stage at all time, the director of a movie must choose when to show close-ups or wide shots and who to focus on, especially in group numbers. I remember hearing this issue discussed in a behind-the-scenes feature of the Sweet Charity movie.

An example of the significance of framing in the Chicago movie is the Cell Block Tango. The camera switches from wide shots showing the row of Merry Murderesses to close-ups during each monologue. The actresses in the stage play do not get the luxury of "zooming in and out," and so they have to stay alive and in character even when the focus is not on them.

There is so much more I could say about the Chicago movie, such as the big jazz numbers taking place in Roxie's imagination or the decision to cast a female actress as Mary Sunshine, but this post is already getting long, so I will switch now to Frozen.

Boy, do I wish Frozen had been around when I was in middle school. I would have connected so much with Elsa back then. What's not to love about an insecure queen who belts her solos and accidentally freezes her entire kingdom?

Since Frozen is a computer-generated film, animators can be as free as they want when creating her icy magic. New animation techniques are invented for every Disney film, and for Frozen, animators crafted a simulation to more realistically render snow.

But how to capture this magic live and onstage?

Theatre special effects is always a cool and tricky subject, one I am not an expert in, so I will brainstorm some ways Elsa's magic could be pulled off.

Digital animations could be projected onto the actress. Simple lighting changes could also pull it off, with soft pulses or flashes whenever Elsa raises her hands. A stage production could even use a fake snow machine, something I have shared a stage with before and with which I was not impressed. But it's still a possibility.

As for what our preteens will be using for Elsa's magic? WELL. That's a secret you'll have to come see the show to find out.

And that's just a little commentary about the differences that must be taken into consideration when adapting from stage to film and vice-versa. I hope that, if not informative, it was at least entertaining.

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