Musicals: A New Tradition
by Bruce E. Bagnell
There are few better ways to spend an evening than enjoying a musical.
In the more than 150 years since the first musicals were created, many of them have gone on to have a great influence on popular culture. In recent decades, the West End theater district of London and the Broadway district in New York have played host to some of the most spectacular musicals ever performed. In 2007, these two greatest English-speaking theater districts sold more than 25 million tickets between them, worth more than US$1 billion, meaning that musicals are big business. In this age of media, a book can become a musical, which in turn can become a movie. The French author Victor Hugo wrote the novel, Les Miserables, in 1862. It was subsequently made into a musical of the same name before being made into a movie. The musical played on Broadway for 16 years and in London even longer.
Another impressive musical is The Phantom of the Opera, also originally a French novel, written in 1910 by Gaston Leroux. One of the greatest names ever in musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber, decided in 1986 to take Leroux' original story and recreate it on stage as a musical. The same man had also earlier created another hit, Cats (1981), which ran for 21 years in London and 18 on Broadway. Cats has been translated into 20 languages and shown around the world. The Lion King (1998), originally a Disney movie, opened as a musical on Broadway and is still running. A 2008 production was staged in Taipei.
The songs from these and other musicals have won the hearts of billions of people around the world. There is no doubt about the considerable influence of musicals.
在首批音乐剧问世后的一百五十多年之间，许多音乐剧持续对流行文化造成深远的影响。近几十年来，伦敦的西区剧院区和纽约的百老汇剧院区都主办过某些表演史上最壮观的音乐剧。2007 年，这两个最伟大的英语系剧院区共售出两千五百多万张票，产值超过十亿美元，那意味着音乐剧是笔大生意。在这个传媒时代，一本书可能会变成一齣音乐剧，接着也可能再变成一部电影。法国作家维克多‧雨果在 1862 年写下《悲惨世界》这部小说。随后，它在被翻拍成电影之前，曾先被制作为同名音乐剧。这齣音乐剧在百老汇演出十六年之久，而在伦敦的演出时间则更长。
另一齣令人赞叹的音乐剧则是《歌剧魅影》，它原本也是一部法文小说，为卡斯顿‧勒胡于 1910 年所写。音乐剧史上最伟大的人物其中一位安德鲁‧洛伊‧韦伯在 1986 年决定将勒胡的原创故事以音乐剧的方式在舞台上重新呈现。这个人先前于 1981 年还曾创造另一齣炙手可热的音乐剧《猫》，该剧在伦敦演出了二十一年，在百老汇演出十八年。《猫》剧已被翻译成二十种语言，并在世界各地演出。1998 年推出的《狮子王》原先是一部迪斯尼电影，它在百老汇首次以音乐剧的形式亮相且至今仍在演出。2008 年的作品则于台北演出。