NBC began the TV musical phenomenon when the network racked up 22 million viewers during their live musical event special A Sound of Music Live. The network tapped into the interest of millions and since then many other networks have followed suit. So far, NBC has launched A Sound of Music Live, Peter Pan Live and The Wiz Live. With an all-star cast including Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and David Alan Grier, The Wiz brought in 11.5 million viewers and generated the most reactions of NBC’s special live programming.
NBC has released their 2016 plans which include The Music Man and Hairspray. The Music Man doesn’t have a definitive launch date however reports are saying that NBC is working on securing the rights for the musical and have not yet found the right star to play the lead role. However, NBC confirmed at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour that Hairspray would be released. The network’s musical duo Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will serve as the executive producers for the project. Network chief Bob Greenblatt said during the press tour, “That title seems really fun and I think it will be really great live. Greenblatt went on to say that he would be open to having John Travolta reprise his role from Zadan and Meron’s 2007 rendition.
While CBS has not yet jumped on the TV musical coat tails, Fox has. Grease: Live will air on the Fox network Sunday, January 31st. Julianne Hough will take on the role of Sandy, while Aaron Tveit will play Danny Zuko. Alongside will be Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo, Keke Palmer as Marty, Carly Rae Jepsen as Frenchy, Kether Donohue as Jan, Carlos Penavega as Kenickie, David Del Rio as Putzie, Jordan Fisher as Doody, Andrew Call as Sonny, and Mario Lopez as Vince Fontaine. Grease Live is based on the Blockbuster hit Grease which starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The live rendition is said to follow the story line of the film.
And in March, on Palm Sunday, Fox will feature a two hour live musical event entitled The Passion. The musical will take place in New Orleans and be hosted and narrated by Tyler Perry. A lot of information hasn’t been released about the event. Tyler Perry released a statement saying, “It’s not a traditional musical; it’s a musical event. There’s no category you can put it in.” The musical will tell the 2,000 year old story of the last hours of Jesus Christ’s life on Earth. Glee musical director Adam Anders will be the executive producer. Apparently, based on various leaked statements, Jesus will be handcuffed, put in a police car and then dressed in an orange jumpsuit. The majority of the cast members have not yet been released. Trisha Yearwood will play the role of Mary and Prince Royce is set to play the disciple Peter. The event will unfold some of New Orleans’ most iconic locations and feature a procession of hundreds of people carrying a 20 foot illuminated cross from the outside of the Superdome to the live stage at Woldenburg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River.
With the overwhelming viewing numbers, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing a lot more musicals sooner than later in 2016.