The visits to New York by Almeida and Ayuso, the efforts to transform Nacho Cano into a kind of native Tim Rice and the agreements between Antonio Banderas and Andrew Lloyd Webber. yesThere have been several attempts from the community to make Madrid the most important city for theater in Spanish and to make Gran Vía its own Broadway.
So far the results are positive. Madrid is already counted as the third city in the world of musicals, behind only London and New York. However, it still seems little more than an imitation of those two, filled to the brim with musical works that were already successful in their Anglo-Saxon counterparts or rehashes of plays that were already successful in the past.
This lack of risk is a difficulty that the theatrical world will have to overcome if it really wants to stand out. Occupying third place at the moment does not seem enough for the investment that has been made and maintaining it in the long term will always require a level of originality that has not been demonstrated since the world of musicals in the Spanish capital.
TRANSLATIONS AND ADAPTATIONS
If you review the current great successes of the Gran Vía of the capital, they are all works that have already been successful in London and New York, and in most cases also adaptations of successful films in the cinema. Pass and read in the marquees titles like ‘The Bridges of Madison County’, ‘Grease’, ‘Mamma Mia!’ or ‘The Neverending Story’ make you think more of a film festival from the 80s than of a city at the forefront of theater.
The most obvious example is precisely the work that has been on the Gran Vía for the longest time. ‘The Lion King’ has been filling the Lope de Vega theater for eleven years, and without diminishing the quality of the production, it is still striking that in a city who hopes to compete with the big ones, the most successful work is the Spanish adaptation of the theatrical adaptation of an animated film. A copy of a copy cannot be the jewel in the crown of a city that hopes to be at the forefront of the world of theater.
But it is also not the only work of the capital that meets this description, with ‘Matilda’ and ‘Dancing in the rain’ entering the same description. It is a real problem, especially if you really want to attract tourism to the capital.
FEAR OF RISKS
Basically it is understandable. Just as in the cinema it has been normalized to recover franchises that give certain security to the investor in the theater, the same thing is happening internationally. Recently on Broadway adaptations of ‘School of Rock’, ‘American Psycho’ or ‘Beetlejuice’ have been among his greatest hits. However, in the last decade the two great cultural phenomena of musical theater have come out of original ideas.
On the one hand, Lin Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’ brought the founding of the United States to the rhythm of Hip Hop, something that occurs for the first time in the history of New York theater and ‘Hadestown’ using indie and folk sounds far removed from theater traditional to adapt the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Both are proof that theater can also reward originality and breaking formats. In Madrid at the moment only ‘Malinche’ by Nacho Cano can be considered a similar experiment on a large scale, and although it has not been well received by critics, for which it is perceived as a too clean version of miscegenation, it is still good news that there is investment in attempts at original work.
THINK LONG TERM
If the Spanish capital wants to maintain its third place, or wants to boast of going further, it has to directly face this problem of originality, it needs its own works that it can also export if it really wants to grow. Even daring to adapt American works that do not have a successful film like the ones mentioned ‘Hamilton’ or ‘Hadestown’ would already give it a point in its favor, and in the case of the second, even a work that has not passed through the British territory.
The truth is that at the moment the success of Madrid’s musicals continues to feel like a curiosity more than anything else. As long as it continues to depend on adaptations and translations, the capital will continue to lag behind its competitors, and will always remain an imitation of its Anglo-Saxon cousins, not to mention the possibility that Hamburg, at the moment, the fourth city where the most musicals are Come on, get over it again.