Anyone who reads this site regularly knows I’m a big fan of Animal House. It was the first R rated movie I ever saw, I still love it to this day, and will always have fond memories of seeing it in the theaters when I was a little kid, and laughing so hard I was bouncing off the back of my theater seat.
Animal House was considered a “gross out” comedy at the time, but it was way more than that, and many imitations followed, but none of them had what made Animal House great: Subversive casting, broad and subtle humor seamlessly blended together, and of course, the late, great John Belushi, who stole the show just like he did regularly on SNL.
So it’s ironic that on the 30th anniversary of Belushi’s passing, March 5, 1982, the news hits that Animal House may be headed to the Broadway stage, with songs by Bare Naked Ladies, and it will also be directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, who won the Tony award for The Book of Mormon.
As the Hollywood Reporter tells us, this project is being put together by Universal Pictures Stage Productions, who also put together musical versions of Billy Elliot and Bring it On. While no one has remarked that the news hit on the anniversary of Belushi’s death, you wonder if his estate has anything to do with this musical, and who on earth could play the character of Bluto. (Recently there was also talk of a Blues Brothers TV series that Belushi’s widow Judy was pitching to networks).
The magic of Animal House could never be recaptured on screen, even though the brass at Universal would have given their eye-teeth for a sequel. Thom Mount, the former President of Universal, told me every possible permutation for a sequel was tried, and no one could come up with anything satisfactory, not to mention that after Belushi passed, what would have been the point?
Still, this musical will have to be judged on its own merits, which will definitely be tough to do because Animal House was one of the most groundbreaking comedies of its time, not to mention it was the biggest comedy of its time as well, grossing $141.6 million in the States on a budget of $2.7 million.