Would “It” Be A Good Musical?

Christian Jost

I know what you’re thinking, “um no, that’s stupid”. You may be right, but let’s talk about this for a second. “It” was the breakout movie of the summer, gaining critical and audience acclaim. “It”, also managed to become the highest grossing September release of all time. “It”, also, has a huge following among young adult audiences. So, to recap, financial success, well received, and loved by young people. If only Broadway had a history of turning movies with those three things into successful shows. That would be as crazy as turning “Legally Blonde” into a musical, or “Catch Me If You Can”, or “School of Rock”, or even that weird cult movie from the 80’s, “Heathers” ….

Now, of course, It is slightly different from the movies listed above, as it does include a child eating clown. Most would consider that a killing blow to a good musical, but villains have been musicalized before. Think Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, Sweeny Todd. All were characters in musicals with a horror essence, involving adult themes and death/murder. In this case, however, Pennywise is different than most others. He is pure evil, no redeeming qualities, no justification, no saddening backstory, he’s just a kid snacker. How do we musicalize him? We don’t. Pennywise, should NEVER sing. Let his music be instrumental, like in the film. A villain that never sings throughout the whole show, that’s creepy. It would also bring another element of tension to the piece, we have a certain instinct that when we see people burst out into song we recognize that it isn’t real, though we wish it were, imagine a cast of singing children facing a non-singing foe. That is more than enough to make an audience uneasy.

The real potential of “It: The Musical” lies in the loser’s club. Not only are they going through basic school problems like those in “13” or “Bring It On” but Stephen King also gives these kids some seriously messed up personal problems. From Bill’s loss of his brother and broken home, to Eddie’s mother making him believe he’s always sick in order to stunt his maturity. Throw in the issues of race that Mike struggles with, Ben’s body image, and the darkest horror of the story, Beverly’s life with her father. That’s your musical. There is potential there. You’ve got personal ballads, funny duets (Richie and Eddie), and uplifting group numbers (“You will Be Found” type). Remember, nothing from Pennywise, though.

I could see various people creating the music for this piece, such as Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy (Heathers), Duncan Shei and Steven Sater (Spring Awakening), maybe even Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt (Next to Normal). Though, were I to choose, I can see this as a Pasek and Paul, all the way. I can see a lot of Evan Hansen in this piece, maybe just a little grungier.

For the sake of time, I think this musical could only cover the adolescent part of the story, but I could see a “Hamilton” length piece crossing over between the Adult losers and their younger selves. So, there are my thoughts. Am I crazy, or are you starting to picture seeing this on stage, same as me. Please let me know what you think and share with your friends!