Coraline The Musical: Will Neil Gaiman’s Book Conquer All Media?

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If you enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Coraline in book, graphic novel, videogame and/or movie form and you happen to find yourself in the vicinity of New York this spring, here’s an interesting way to spend some of your entertainment dollars: Coraline the musical.

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I’m not sure what the track record is for bringing Hugo or Nebula-award winning novellas to the stage, let alone putting together a musical version, but Coraline has proved remarkably successful in virtually every media format, so why not give it a shot as an Off Broadway show? Stephen Merritt (of critically acclaimed group The Magnetic Fields) is responsible for the music and lyrics of the MCC Theater stage adaption, which runs from May 7 through June 20 at the Lucille Lortell Theatre in NYC. Merritt’s had some experience in this area, having contributed music to the audiobook version of Coraline, as well as releasing a collection of songs to accompany the Lemony Snicket books. 

You can hear samples from three of the numbers here. As if the source material weren’t Geeky enough, musical instruments featured in the production include a toy piano and a hacked piano that’s been altered by attaching common objects including playing cards, tinfoil and elastic bands to the strings. The effect is suitably unsettling, especially on sample 2. Leigh Silverman directs with script (and role of Other Mother) by David Greenspan; Tony-Award-nominee Jayne Houdyshell plays the title role.

On Tuesday evening (April 21), the creative team responsible for adapting Coraline for the stage will take part in a moderated discussion about the process.  They’ll field audience questions and the event will also feature the first public performance of one of Coraline’s songs by Merritt, accompanying himself on ukulele.  I wasn’t able to embed the video, but for a preview of what you might be able to expect on Tuesday, the MCC Theater’s YouTube channel has a few minutes of the principals talking about their experience.

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