What Happens Next? Ten Broadway Musicals that We Want to Know What Happens AFTER the Curtain Came Down
Broadway musical sequels are seldom successful (or a good idea) so I’d like to preface this article by asserting that I, in no way, suggest that creating a sequel to any of these shows should happen (see my piece this coming Sunday on musical sequels for further debate on that topic). What I will suggest is that there are certain musicals that ended in a way that made us curious about what comes next. Whether the characters’ stories still have some journey left in them, or we are left with burning questions that we want answered, these are the ten musicals that have made me ponder their fates past the curtain call.
Though it is about to be revived on Broadway, we cannot get enough of the angst-ridden characters of Falsettos and the adventures of the hyper-neurotic Marvin and company. After losing his lover, can Marvin pick up the pieces and become a decent and involved father? Will he grow up and become the mature adult his son needs, or will he continue to unintentionally abuse everyone in his path in order to find his own happiness. We cannot help to query what will come next for these fabulously imperfect people.
Guys & Dolls
Ever since I was in a production of this classic in high school, I have wondered what came next for the denizens of Runyonland. Gamblers don’t easily give up their lifestyles or the thrill of the game. Did Nathan Detroit ever overcome his gambling problem and give Adelaide all those kids she had lied to her mother about? Did Sky Masterson truly remain on the straight and narrow and remain faithful to his kindhearted Christian wife? It's better than even money that so many interesting things happened after the curtain came down on these colorful characters.
Grand Hotel is a slice-of-life musical, exploring one 24-hour day in a luxury hotel in 1928 Berlin. We spend the day with a handful of guests, each struggling with a problem. From the time they check-in to the time they pack their bags and leave, their lives intertwine as their fates are revealed. One of them dies, but the others are sent on their way through the revolving door of the lobby. What becomes of the dying bookkeeper who runs off with the pregnant wannabe actress? Does the retiring ballet dancer get over the death of her beloved baron and find comfort in the arms of her female companion? Does the businessman go to jail for shooting the baron, or is he set free to face his investors after his myriad deceptions that led to financial ruin for many of them?
Fiddler on the Roof
What musical theatre buff hasn’t ruminated over what becomes of poor Tevye and his family when they are forced to evacuate their beloved town of Anatevka? Never has a musical ended with more uncertainty. The possibilities are endless: Did they make it to America? Were they all reunited? Were circumstances unkind to this loveable family and did they meet a much darker fate? We love them and we want to know what became of them.
When Tommy Albright returns to the vanishing town of Brigadoon and chooses to disappear with it for the love of the Scottish lassie Fiona, we of course melt at such a grand romantic gesture. It is interesting, however, to contemplate how Tommy will do living in a town that appears every 100 years. Can he comfortably leave his world behind? Will he find a livelihood in a town with limited options? Does the magic wear off and is Fiona not the woman he thought she was? After all, he only knew her a day before he made his big sacrifice.
My Fair Lady
Please don’t tell me you haven’t at least considered what life on 27 A Wimpole Street would be like after Eliza Doolittle returned to Henry Higgins. Since there is clearly no sexual tension (or interest) between these two, and their prospects for conversations seem limited, what exactly is there to keep these two dynamic personalities both challenged and connected? It seems like they would need some sort of project to keep them engaged.
Spring Awakening features a lot of angst-ridden teens, preoccupied with sex and yet not entirely clear on the ramifications of their actions in its regard. How does time and the loss of a peer to suicide change and shape their perspectives on life? Do they find a maturity to finally deal with the sadness in their souls? Does their whining and complaining morph into an actual voice for their frustrations or is it all just the exercise in futility, the “bitch of living”, they have deemed it to be?
The Light in the Piazza
There is a great deal of uncertainty on the table when The Light in the Piazza comes to its ambiguous conclusion. Will Clara Johnson (with her emotional challenges) be able to leave he protective mother and become an adequate wife for Fabrizio? Can Margaret Johnson leave her needy daughter in Italy and return to her loveless marriage in the United States? Both are fascinating women with sad and lonely stories. Surely the future holds something happier for these deserving ladies.
West Side Story
Does the fighting and the hatred stop? Honestly, this is the big question that grows out of the final moments of West Side Story. After the rival gangs The Jets and The Sharks have had both of their leaders killed, and two idealistic lovers are torn asunder when one of them is killed because of the gang violence, we have to wonder if a lesson has been learned. Realistically, we know better, but it is interesting to speculate on what comes next. Can two ethnicities coexist on NYC’s upper west side in a time and place when that was hardly plausible?
I am not so interested in what became of Oliver himself. The little orphan boy got a wonderful happy-ever-after; I think it is fine to leave that one alone. I’m more interested in what becomes of Fagin and the Artful Dodger. These are the two most-compelling characters in Oliver!, and they are also crafty creatures of survival. The question is what do they do next when the crime ring that they have serviced all of these years falls apart? I want to know what new plan for survival they concoct and scheme.
What musicals have left you wondering about what came next? Please weigh in!