- OnStage Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Very rarely, if ever, do sequels to musicals work. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why that is. Maybe it's the inability for lightning to strike twice when it comes to the music or maybe the characters lacked the arc to justify a sequel in the first place. Whatever it is, sequels to musicals fail more than succeed. Annie 2 and Bring Back Birdie both flopped and opinion on Phantom's sequel, Love Never Dies, is at best, mixed. The only one I can think of that did work, if you want to actually call it a sequel, was Falsettos.
But just because most of these projects failed, that doesn't mean sequels to musicals couldn't work. In fact there are four that could be quite interesting with the right creative team behind them.
The Sound of Music
With the way the original musical ends, with the Von Trapps escaping into the hills of Switzerland, the story never covers what happens to the family afterwards. A potential sequel would certainly tell the story of the family's journey to America, rise in popularity as touring singers and life after the untimely death of Georg von Trapp in 1947. In fact, this story was told in the 1958 movie, The Trapp Family in America, which came out seven years before The Sound of Music. Is it as romantic or compelling as the original? Certainly not, but that's not to say it couldn't work.
While the original musical and its themes are very much a product of its time, that's not to say they've become irrelevant. Divide between the races, social classes and sexuality are ever present today as they were in the early 1990's. The impact of corporate greed and gentrification have become daily headlines all over the country. If RENT were to have a sequel, I would imagine it would focus on a new cast of characters with some choice cameos from the original group. What became of Joanne and Maureen? Tom Collins? Roger and Mark? Are they still loving the Bohemian life or did they sell out like so many others have?
A Chorus Line
The same with RENT, A Chorus Line focused on a singular(sensational) group. A potential sequel could bring in a whole new crew. While the challenges of being a dance ensemble member on Broadway stages hasan't changed completely since the 1970's, it's a safe bet that that the business surrounding it has. Telling more stories of those who populate Broadway stages is never a bad idea in my book.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Simple answer, The 26th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Who wouldn't want to see Barfee come back to defend his title? Perhaps against the same group or new group of contenders. In my opinion, the original is one of the more endearing musicals of my generation and a return to these characters or any others that William Finn wants to think up would be most welcome.