Broadway's trend of screen-to-stage still going strong

There was a time when Hollywood turned to Broadway for movie ideas, transforming such shows as "Chicago," "The Sound of Music" and "Amadeus" into box-office gold and Oscar winners.

These days, theater producers look to the film community for juicy stage projects, turning movies such as "Billy Elliot," "The Producers" and "Hairspray" into Tony winners.

The new Broadway season is no exception. Among shows opening this fall are "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," based on the comic book and movie franchise; "Elf: The Musical," inspired by the outrageous Will Ferrell comedy; and Pedro Almodovar's 1988 film farce, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown."

Meanwhile, "Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical," adapted from the 1994 road movie about drag queens and a transsexual and their cabaret act, opens for a pre-Broadway run in Toronto on Oct. 26.

It was first adapted for the stage in 2006 for a run in Sydney and most recently had a successful turn on London's West End.

Many eyes, though, are on the $50 million-plus "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," which was in the works for six years and long hung in limbo as it jumped financial hurdles.

Based on the Marvel comic book hero, "Spider-Man" features music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, with a book by its director, Julie Taymor, and Glen Berger.

U2's Bono and The Edge are cutting their teeth writing show tunes. The jump may not be so far, given the appeal of the hit series "Glee" and its occasional ability to transform rock anthems into show music. So it's not hard to believe that the Irish rockers can retrofit their stadium-oriented rock into the more intimate musical theater.

The big-budget musical extravaganza boasts one of the highest budgets in Broadway history and bursts with producers that include Marvel Entertainment and Sony Entertainment. Above the pack is lead producer Michael Cohl.

The cast once included Raleigh's Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq on TV's "True Blood." She dropped out over a scheduling conflict. Alan Cumming was slated as the villainous Green Goblin but has been replaced by Patrick Page, the namesake of the Broadway version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

"Spider-Man" opens in the newly named Foxwoods Theatre. Previews begin Nov. 14, and it will open Dec. 21.

"Elf: The Musical" begins previews Nov. 2 at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, opening Nov. 10.

Based on the 2003 comedy, the musical tells the story of Buddy, a human raised as an elf at the North Pole. Madness ensues after he is sent to New York to live with his biological father. After getting used to his new world, the giant elf goes on a mission to save Christmas.

The classic Pee-wee Herman TV show, "Pee-wee's Playhouse," was based on the film, "Pee-wee's Big Adventure." Now "The Pee-wee Herman Show" will have a limited run at the Stephen Sondheim Theater, opening Nov. 11.