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Dr. Horrible: The Stage Musical
August 12, 2008
2:36 pm
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Lumbargo
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You guys think it would work?

I can just imagine schools doing Doctor Horrible as a stage musical. But my main question is would it actually work? I like to think it would, but I haven't bothered thinking it entirely through just yet - it would require a lot of fourth-wall-breaking, and some of the switches between POVs in some of the songs would be hard, but I can't see any impossibilities at first glance.

August 12, 2008
2:50 pm
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The whole van incident might be hard to re-create on stage (or would at least be kind of cheesy, as I imagine a low-budget cardboard “van” being used).  Heh.  Also, perhaps the giant “Godzilla-esque” part of “Brand New Day”– would someone wheel in tiny fake buildings all of a sudden?  xD

But I'd love to see people try and pull it off.  The only problem is (at least, in drama departments around here) that they usually select musicals with a LOT of main or big supporting parts, since there are always so many kids that want to be involved.  Also, I've never encountered a high school drama guy who is manly enough to be Captain Hammer.  Maybe someone else knows of one, but not I.  >_>

Edit:  I said \"high school\" the whole time, but I realize you could've also meant college.  Ah well, no biggie.  ^_^;;

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
August 12, 2008
2:52 pm
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I've been thinking about this myself. It would definitely need a few minor tweakings, particularly due to some of the fast cuts - not just during songs, but during scenes, and then there's all the Dr. H/Billy costume changes which would need to happen extremely quickly.... but it seems like a wonderful idea to me 🙂

What I'd really like to see is another short-format musical, either a Dr. Horrible sequel or something totally different, and then put that on along with Dr. Horrible and Once More, With Feeling for a night of Whedon Musical One-Acts.

August 13, 2008
7:41 am
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Speckley
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There would definitely have to be some creative editing for it to work well as a staged musical. I can see some creative blocking and lighting with the rapid cuts between POV. Costume changes aren't going to be a huge problem: that's what dressers are for. Even then, some of Billy's costumes could be underneath the Dr. Horrible get up. For \"A Man's Gotta Do\", he could change into the Dr. Horrible costume behind a piece of scnenery. With practice, quick costume changes (or quick changes) are no big deal. The van heist would most likely be something entirely different: possibly Dr. Horrible stealing the Wonderflonium by hand instead of controlling the van.

The whole thing would probably have to be longer, though. 42 minutes is short, even for a play. Musicals are typically 45 to 60 minutes per act, sometimes more, with a 15 minute intermission between each act. I have never seen or worked on a musical that's been shorter than that.

Dr. Horrible seems like it would do so much better in a more professional setting, at a theatre company that has the budget for it. But even all the money in the world doesn't mean that it would turn out as fantastic as the original made-for-Internet movie.

Some things are better left in their original media. (As much as I would love to see a staged version of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.)

August 13, 2008
1:22 pm
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Boone
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Just a quick run down of what I think would have to be changed/adapted for a stage performance.Not I have very very little stage experience so this is just me analyzing the logistics.

The set seems to be a major issue.  The changes from Billy's apartment to the laundromat back to Billy's to the street in act one alone would be difficult. A relativly easy fix would be some clever lighting.  For example, when Horrible was blogging the stage could remain unlit except for a spotlight on the actor in a chair.  This would obscure any scenery needed for the act.  If scenes require fast changes (such as from Billy's aprtment to the laundromat) the sets could be built on wheels.  THis sounds ridiculous even to me, but if only portions of the stage were lit at a time the sets could be wheeled on and off for quick changes.  This is, of course, in adition to removing any of the needless changes in scenery such as the homeless shelter to the park in act 2.

As a side note, the third act lends itself perfectly to an audience.  If Hammer was addressing the plays audience Horrible could make a very dramatic entrance from somewhere in the back with his evil laugh drawing everyones attention.  Thids would be a bit fourth wall breaking but still...

The death ray and freeze ray could cause problems if there was only noise with no visual, but sudden flashes of color from spotlights could help that.

The van scene would be the biggest problem.  There would be multiple work-arounds though depending on how serious the group wanted to be.  My favorite would be a cheesy, poorly drawn, obviously cardboard van.  Since the first act is very comedic this, along with Hammer's song, would be perfect humor for the audience.  Another option, as noted above, is simply to write the van out and substitute some other \"imminent danger\".  A third option is to use saa van that never starts moving.  This would, again, be humorous and serve the let the audience know Hammer is a true ham.

The flashbacks at the end of act 2 woul;d be difficult to pull off convincingly.  In my opinion it would be easier to write them out in favor of Horrible pulling down plans with things like \"FAILED\" or \"BUSTED\" on them off his wall.  This shows the audience that Horrible has failed many times but  doesn't plan to fail again.

Depending on how strict the school or theatre is about obscenety some lines (\"THe hammer is my penis\") may have to be written out.

The costume changes would be hard to pull off but could be simplified with dressers or simple rewrites.  It could be streamlines a bit by making Horribles coat slip on like a shirt instead of buttoning up.  In the final song I think it might have more impact to have Horrible change outfits slowly instead of showing the robbery and party.  It would have the same symbolic undertones of change but  be less intensive.

THe choreagrophy would be, in my opinion, the hardest part.  In the film the characters sing across many different sts and costume changes in some cases.  this works great on film where you can have Billy go to a 200ft Horrible mid-song but would have to be rewritten for a stage.  That is to say unless the cast plays it very tongue-in-cheek/ old sci-fi where the props could be as riddiculous as they want for comedic effect.  The only downside to this is the riskof undercuttingthe drama and trajedy.

I don't think it could be done without compromising on some of the teams creative vision but it would be doable with a dedicated cast.  If it ever is done I would be interested to see how they manage.

August 13, 2008
2:30 pm
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Well actually I don't really think that the set would be that hard to pull off. All it would take would be some creative thinking. Now run with me on this one...

Down center stage (Close to the audience) you have a stool/chair. Thats it, now you play the scene as though the audience were the webcam. And you only light a very small area around him. The laundromat would be stage right, all it would take would be 3-4 washer/dryers lined up, two on each side, with an aisle in the middle. Stage left will then be an exterior street, just a random street, that could serve as all of the outdoor stuff.

Now if you plan it right, you could have down center stage always be open for all the scenes (Dance numbers etc.) Also down center stage would be Dr. H's apartment. Now whenever Dr. H leaves his apartment he takes the stool with him, leaving that area clear. So now we can have that area open for \"Laundry Day\" and for him transfering from his apartment to the laundromat, all it would take would me a simple couple steps to meet Penny. And then they can spill the dance into center stage. AGain lighting only the areas of stage that need to be seen. For the outdoor scenes the street/center stage would double for everything. (It wouldn't be that hard to work out some blocking to make \"On The Rise\" interesting to look at. Now since almost all of acts 1 and 2 take place in these major areas, they can almost be combined into 1 act.  Then over the \"act break\" move almost everything off stage, everything (I'm thinking mostly the washer/dryers, cause if they were real, dang they'd be heavy, or if they were fake, it'd just make things a heck of a lot easier) so everything gets shifted off stage, And a podium is brought to center stage, and maybe some chairs. ANd like you said the scene is played to the audience with the major showdown happening on the ground in front of the stage. (Or right at the front of the stage, depending on the theater it's being performed in), then everything can be played right there, and it's just a simple matter of killing the lights during Dr. H's finale song, moving the podium off and the chairs, and throwing a couple extra people on stage to have a party.

Um oviously there are some things that would have to be changed, for one the massive car chase scenes would have to be played off stage, be rewritten or be very very expensive. For seconds where you would put the ELE I have no clue. And thirdly how you would work the last 3 seconds, unless you do something really artsy...

But yah thats the way I see it being laid out, obviuosly it'll change according to the theater, but it should work I think...

August 13, 2008
3:14 pm
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Speckley
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Really, the sets and stage interpretation would only be limited by the imagination (and budget) of those directing and designing it. The sets could be as simple or as complicated as possible.

Now that I think about the van heist, it could still be pulled off. All you would need to do is paint the facing of a small platform to look like a van, and have an easy way for someone to climb up the back of said platform, to the top of the van. The lights fade down on Dr. Horrible as he does an onstage quick change, in sych with the first few lines of \"A Man's Gotta Do\". He fiddles with the remote, isolated by either a special or spotlight. As soon as Captain Hammer starts singing, the lights suddenly shift to the overall picture, featuring Hammer on top of the van. (The van would be immobile. Suspension of belief and all that.)

As for the last few seconds, again, you could have yet another light shift. Imagine, if you will, a sinister scene flooded in sickly colors as Dr. Horrible is singing \"Now the nightmare's real...\" Henchmen are robbing people, and maybe Dr. Horrible is walking slowly downstage center, chaos surrounding him.

\"And I won't feel... (LIGHT CUE) a thing\"

It would bump to Dr. Horrible, isolated by either a white or light blue light. All the chaos around him freezes as he sings his last two words. Then, there would be a final blackout on the last note, and the show would be over. It solves the problem of doing a quick change in the middle of a song: you don't necessarily need the quick change to depict Billy, anyway. And if you go with the idea of a stool for The Blog, that stool could easily be placed right behind Dr. Horrible in the surrounding chaos, without being too conspicious.

August 14, 2008
12:05 am
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I've been thinking about th final scene and I think the best way to do it might be to have Horrible pick up his picture of Penny for the last line.  The only real problem is making a picture large enough for the audience to see.

August 15, 2008
2:32 pm
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MrWatch
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This may sound odd, but a pair of identical twins would solve most of the issues with \"Freeze Ray\" and quick changes.  Since identical twins aren't common, two similar looking people could work.

Signatures?
August 15, 2008
8:10 pm
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Dan
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Well for the scenes where he is blogging, it could all be prerecorded. It is supposed to be a blog anyway. You could have a giant computer screen, which could double as things like billboards, set pieces, and timecards, that would have all of the blog segments. You could even have blog horrible interact with the real horrible in some sort of comedic light. This erases problems with the song switching form his lair to the laundromat etc.

August 15, 2008
10:34 pm
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I think for the end scene when he says \"a thing\" his dr.horrible costume should be ripped off by something, and he is in plain civillian clothes.

August 16, 2008
11:10 am
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Speckley
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Dan said:

Well for the scenes where he is blogging, it could all be prerecorded. It is supposed to be a blog anyway. You could have a giant computer screen, which could double as things like billboards, set pieces, and timecards, that would have all of the blog segments. You could even have blog horrible interact with the real horrible in some sort of comedic light. This erases problems with the song switching form his lair to the laundromat etc.


As long as you get a projector that works well, show after show after show.

I've worked on plenty of shows that have used projections, some to ill-effect. One show I worked, there were two projectors: one for rear projections, and one for front projections. The idea was that the rear projections would make up for the minimalistic set. They worked fine during our technical rehearsals, but as soon as the show opened, they never worked again. (There was a problem with the cable that ran from backstage to the technician's booth.)

If you had, say, a video recording of Dr. Horrible singing, then you've also got a problem with off-tempo singing. There's no garuntee that the tempo is going to be EXACTLY the same each night. That's the excitement and challenge that live theatre provides: it's never the same show every night.

That's not to say that I'm against the use of projections: I'm just a little hesitant about them since they've been somewhat unreliable in the past.

The most recent revival of Steven Sondheim's \"Sunday in the Park with George\" had a set that was mostly composed of projections. It was stunning, from what I've seen.

August 16, 2008
11:37 am
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Pokey
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you can't completely recreate or translate from the screen to stage, because they are so different, you gotta creative.

having the switch from blog to laundry mat would have to happen in a less cross cut motion, not to mention you don't have to recreate what you saw on the screen, only stay faithful.

August 16, 2008
1:45 pm
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Ken
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I'm thinking of doing it for my high school. We put on student-directed One-Acts, and I was thinking of trying to do this. I'd make some changes and make sure its okay with Joss, since it is his creation, and putting it on. I think it could work with some creative changes and, in my opinion, be  a nice break from the whole \"High School Musical\" scene. Someone should be putting on this instead of that piece of talentless garbage.

August 16, 2008
1:48 pm
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Ken
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Also, with the, \"a thing\" line at the end, one could use that as a projection to cue up, so it has the whole, \"it was all just a blog\" feel like the original did.

September 3, 2008
11:35 pm
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Hi there! Me and some friends are actually seriously considering putting on a stage adaptation with our university theatre society early next year. And then I stumbled on this thread, perfect!

Our main obstacle at the moment seems to be rights and licensing. So, my question is, does anyone have any suggestions about the best person to contact about getting the rights? Is there a possibility it's not licensed for things like live adaptations? I'm pretty sure since it's so new they won't have gone through the process of getting live distribution rights. Do you think Joss would be adverse to the idea or would he be the best person to contact rather than trying to go through the corporate types that probably control the copyright?

Thoughts?

Julia

September 4, 2008
6:30 am
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I'm pretty sure that Joss et al. are the ones who control the copyright, and thus would probably be the best people to talk to about this. That was the whole point of this entire thing -- to build something out of corporate control. I'm also fairly certain they haven't worked out the live distribution rights yet; they mentioned earlier that they haven't officially made any steps towards getting sing-alongs arranged yet. I do also know that there's another children's theater looking to do a live stage version, too.

In any case, from what I've seen they're pretty responsive to fan work (like all those covers and the Early Years spinoff), so I imagine that they wouldn't be *adverse* to the idea.

dreams are easy to achieve if hope is all I'm hoping to be ::: music
September 12, 2008
8:51 am
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I'm director of my class's One Acts play and I'm very interested in doing a stage adaption of Dr. Horrible.  For all the blog scenes I was thinking of video recording them and playing them on a projector.  I would cut them to just the beginning before Freeze Ray, the middle when he fails his big crime, and have it cut to video after Penny dies due to the rapid scene changing.  I'm not sure whether I would do a cardboard car or just replace it with something else.  Since the play is suppose to be 30 minutes, Dr. Horrible can definitely work.  I'd just have to trim it down a little.

My only concern is copyrights.  I figure that they wouldn't really care because the whole thing is an experiment and this would just create more publicity for them.  There isn't a profit for our school off the play.  And I thought we'd spend our play's budget on official Dr. Horrible merchandise (captain hammer tshirts) to help support Joss and others involved.  So they'd be making money off it.  I just really want to do Dr. Horrible, it'd be amazing!

September 14, 2008
4:48 am
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I\'m still looking to do this in some form at some point. My major vision for this thing is a pretty much static stage set. Three or four sections with a large screen in the center for the blogging. I also like the idea of the Doc appearing at random points throughout the production to just kinda look around.

If anyone is working on adapting the script, let me know. I\'ve been tweaking my own version and wouldn\'t mind bouncing ideas around with someone.

September 14, 2008
8:13 am
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