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‘August Rush’: From Screen to Stage

Gabby Catalano ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Freddie Highmore and Robin Williams in August Rush. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Freddie Highmore and Robin Williams in August Rush. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

“It’s an overtone, it’s an energy, it’s a wavelength, and if you’re not riding it, then good Lordy, you’ll never hear it,” said Robin Williams in the heartwarming musical August Rush.

Glen Berger, original Spider Man Turn Off the Dark book writer, will be collaborating with Grammy Award-winning composer Mark Mancina in the stage musical adaption of the film, recreating many remembered aspects: the glittering ambiance, the colorful scenery, the brought-to-life soundtrack, and the enchanting story of a young boy’s musical journey to find his parents.

Though questions are being raised by fans: what developments are being taken in the adaption and is the production appropriate in proximity to Williams’ death?

To debrief on August Rush, the film captures the adventures of a young boy (Freddie Highmore) living in the midst of music, and his gifted ability to turn elements of nature into symphonies, i.e.: the rustling of the wind, the thunder from a storm. His search for his parents leads him on a trip to New York City, along the way meeting the Wizard (Robin Williams) who introduces him to the soul-stirring power of sound and draws him nearer to the purpose of life and music.

Taking music from the screen and placing it on the stage was seen in musicals like The Sound of Music and The Lion King. With the help of Warner Brothers alongside CJ Entertainment producer Richard B. Lewis, reliving and recreating the soundtrack shouldn’t be a problem. Although information on the stage actors are undisclosed, they’ll most likely resemble the film’s actors — having voices of vulnerability, captivating the audience through rich instrumentation and climaxing beats, and leaving everyone in awe.

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Robin Williams and Freddie Highmore in August Rush. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Songs like “August Rhapsody,” “Something Inside,” and “This Time,” which are orchestrally rich and feature heavy violin and guitar work, could only sound even more compelling and powerful live on stage. The warm tunes and instrumentals will shake the theater, in the best way possible, and the song lyrics will correspond to the energy on stage. The sounds will “melt the mind,” “produce a symphony,” and “leave everything behind.”

Resembling styles from Eternal Sunshine On the Spotless Mind and Across the Universe, the film’s movie director Kirsten Sheridan and her underlying talents will likely be carried onto the stage. Her glittery effects and choice of narrating the story through a 12-year-old’s perspective will give the production more of a lively, personal touch. As for the film’s cinematography, the multicolored backdrops and splashy footage from John Mathieson may be difficult to carry onto stage. Movies, at times, can offer a clearer view of scenes compared to theater shows. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see until a preview of the production is released to distinguish the adaption.

Is the development of the play too soon, considering Williams’ passing two months ago? Because August Rush cherished his performance as the Wizard, the play will definitely do so too. In fact, the stage adaption could potentially act as a memorial or a global recognition of Williams’ light-hearted character and witty talent.

August Rush is an experiential story; it’s meant to be felt and experienced through performance and interaction. Thus the stage adaption route should be perfect. However adaptations can be difficult to accomplish with cost and time as drawbacks. Already it’s been a year into the development, and still, no exact showing date is available. The latest information given on the production is from an article on PlayBill.com, published in 2013, which barely touches upon the plans.

Anticipation is building. Fans are wondering. How well with this play develop and will it live up to the film’s success?

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