New West Side Story 2021
Entertainment

Musicals 2021: the all-singing, all-dancing films here to save cinema

A feast of theatre hits are being adapted for the big (and small) screen. Here are the ones to add to your autumn watchlist now.

As the entertainment director of Stylist, I pride myself on my up-to-date Spotify playlists that include everything from Dave to Arlo Parks and Phoebe Bridgers. But over the past 18 months, the thing that has brought me the most musical comfort while working from home – dreaming of arguments over whose turn it is to refill the office printer or who left their unwashed porridge bowl in the sink – has been my weekly ritual of listening to Elaine Paige On Sunday on BBC Radio 2.

For those not in the know, it’s a two-hour long celebration of songs from musicals, hosted by the musical theatre legend herself. It’s a little bit cheesy, slightly old-fashioned and just so pure. I’m no musical aficionado, and yet every Tuesday afternoon (when I listen on demand), it fills me with warmth and something close to human connection.

Quite frankly, the fact my neighbours don’t burst into a spontaneous round of applause after I’ve treated them to both parts of Come What May from Moulin Rouge and an emotive dance routine to Wicked’s Defying Gravity says more about them than me. Outside the confines of my office/bedroom, the best time I’ve had in the cinema this year was watching In The Heights, an utterly joyful experience involving set-pieces with 500 extras, synchronised swimming and dancing up walls.

It’s not just me processing all my feelings through the medium of musicals, it seems. A feast of theatre hits are being adapted for the big (and small) screen as the autumn nights draw in. There’s Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, who dreams of being a drag queen (Amazon Prime, 17 September); Dear Evan Hansen, about a student struggling with anxiety (in cinemas, 22 October); Tick, Tick… Boom!, an adaptation of the semi-autobiographical musical by Rent creator Jonathan Larson (Netflix, 19 November); and a re-telling of all-time classic West Side Story, directed by no less than Steven Spielberg (in cinemas, 10 December).

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