With the official opening of “Pretty Woman” at the Nederlander Theatre on Thursday, we decided to look back on the best Broadway musicals based on (or otherwise associated with) romantic comedy films.
Starring Samantha Barks and Andy Karl, “Pretty Woman” is an adaptation of the 1990 rom-com classic directed by Garry Marshall and starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
Of our picks below, it’s worth noting that three of the shows (“She Loves Me,” “A Little Night Music” and “On the Twentieth Century”) were originally directed by Hal Prince.
‘She Loves Me’ (1963)
Based on the same play that inspired the 1940 Jimmy Stewart film “The Shop Around the Corner” and 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail,” this tenderhearted musical (with a score by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock) observes two squabbling co-workers in 1930s Budapest who have unknowingly been paired together through a lonely hearts club and have been writing love letters to each other.
‘Promises, Promises’ (1968)
Based on Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning 1960 film “The Apartment,” “Promises, Promises” observes a nice guy who tries to work his way up the corporate ladder by lending his bachelor pad to his superiors for their sexual trysts — only to learn that one of them is having a fling with his longtime crush. Neil Simon’s book is endlessly funny and Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s pop score is catchy and tuneful.
‘A Little Night Music’ (1973)
Stephen Sondheim’s sublime waltz musical (based on Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 film “Smiles of a Summer Night”) observes the silly games played by several couples trying to break in and out of their relationships in turn-of-the-century Sweden. The lush score, which contains the bittersweet ballad “Send in the Clowns,” is one of Sondheim’s best.
‘On the Twentieth Century’ (1978)
“Twentieth Century,” Howard Hawks’ 1934 screwball comedy romance about a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer (John Barrymore) and the Hollywood actress (Carole Lombard) he needs to star in his newest project, was adapted into a terrific musical comedy that brought operatic heights to the over-the-top narcissism of its characters.
‘La Cage aux Folles’ (1983)
Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s same-sex musical comedy (based on the 1973 French play, which was adapted into a 1978 film and remade in 1996 as “The Birdcage”) is a farcical rom-com, built around a loving, middle-aged male couple that runs a notorious drag club and engages in elaborate role play when their son’s conservative future in-laws pay a house call.