Excerpt:

Perhaps surprisingly, I've always liked musicals. Not all musicals: I have a blind spot for Les Mis, which seems to me what you would get on Whose Line Is It Anyway? if the subject shouted out was "19th Century France!" and the style "Light Opera!" and the show went on for nearly three hours. That's no doubt my fault as I don't like opera in general, and therefore musicals that sort of pretend to be opera are not my thing. What I like is pop musicals, by which I mean Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell (I like the Jesus ones in general), and Wicked. I even like Shrek. Because I like musicals with songs, not cod arias.

Storywise, however, the reason to do a musical must be clear. There must be points in the narrative when, for whatever reason, it makes more emotional sense for the characters, instead of speaking, to burst into song.

When I came to revisit my film The Infidel with a view to making it into a musical, the key thing for me was finding a composer whose music would chime with these points; who could write those emotions into song. An obvious choice was Erran Baron Cohen – he'd written the score for the movie as well as scoring his brother's films, Borat and Bruno. But I still thought of Erran primarily as a film composer. I'd never heard a song by him, apart from the Live Aid pastiche at the end of Bruno. To be honest, I wasn't sure it would work.


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