Genres we are missing on the theatre stage

In the theatre world these days, anything can be attempted. Books are being turned into plays, films are being turned into musicals and almost every genre out there can be seen somewhere on stage. Some of the best shows to see in London this holiday season include the likes of Disney’s Aladdin, a musical version of the film Nativity and countless versions of A Christmas Carol. Throw in Harry Potter’s transition to the stage, a rumoured adaptation of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, there really is quite a bit of blending between genres happening.

However, there are still some genres of cinema and storytelling that stage writers, directors, and production companies don’t seem to have much luck with.

Superhero Stories
Superhero’s are the obvious stories you would expect to see adapted for the stage as there is such a huge fan base for them but they never really seem to work very well. The broadway flop Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark was expected to be a massive hit, and one that would theoretically have opened the door to a whole new style of theatre performance, but it closed after just six months and apparently lost at least $60 million by its close. Several cast members were also seriously injured during the run.

Then there was the Batman Live arena tour which I remember seeing at the O2 in London. Yes it was a spectacle but the venue was far too big and it was was hard to follow what was happening on stage. When it comes to superhero shows, a balance needs to be found between creating a spectacle and creating a show but so far no attempts seem to have worked very well.

Gambling Dramas
Guys and Dolls is probably the most famous stage show about old school gambling, men sat around a table in a secret location, drinking scotch and smoking, whilst gambling away their money. But that seems to be a thing of the past now. When is the last time you went to a casino to play games? Because of an endless string of new sites devoted to digital casino entertainment, the very notion of men huddled in back rooms or sweating over casino tables is fading into history. So has the appetite for smokey gambling shows on stage died out, or with the one exception of Guys and Dolls, did it ever really begin?

Santa Stories
Christmas plays have been done on countless occasions, including musicals. So the idea here isn’t to say that theatre has neglected the holiday season. What we really don’t have however is a true Santa story. Think The Santa Claus, or any of a number of similar films you might have loved growing up. All you’d need would be a whimsical script, fun decorations, and an extremely charismatic lead to play Santa. Upon the release of a new Netflix film called The Christmas Chronicles, one review began with “Kurt Russell is Santa Clause. That’s all you need to know.” The exact same tagline could be applied to a theatre poster and the show would probably sell out for a whole season before a single review was written. But whilst there are christmassy inspired shows out there, Santa himself seems to usually be missing or at least buried in the background of the story. I think its about time we brought him to the forefront!

When someone shoots someone in a stage play, it’s a single shot, and a major event in the script. Occasionally, as in a show like Les Miserables, we see brief simulations of greater conflicts involving guns. What hasn’t really been done on any major scale though is a full-fledged action story complete with shoot-em-up stunts. Just imagine films like John Wick, or even The Bourne Identity or Mission: Impossible – or the actual film Shoot Em Up for that matter! Of course the effects would be challenging and the pace and scope couldn’t match what happens in cinema, but that would be part of the challenge. A stage-based action hero could be a very thrilling idea indeed.

What do you think? What genres do you think are missing from being explored on the theatre stage? Let us know on our social media channels below.


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