Riverbank News - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Tony Rizzo

It looks like movie mu­si­cals are mak­ing a come­back in a big way. With the suc­cess of “La La Land,” “Mamma Mia” and its se­quel, “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again” (al­ready over $250 mil­lion), the stu­dios are fol­low­ing suit. “Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again” is the feel-good movie of the year. The Los An­ge­les Times de­voted a front page of its Cal­en­dar sec­tion to say: “The se­quel sur­passed the orig­i­nal, no doubt thanks in part to the pair­ing of Cher and Andy Gar­cia. The young cast is beau­ti­ful and the old pros, that re­turned, re­ally de­liv­ered.”

Dis­ney will kick off its mu­si­cal craze with the live ac­tion “Aladdin,” di­rected by Madonna’s for­mer hus­band Guy Ritchie (due out May 24, 2019), then it will unleash the CGI and live ac­tion ver­sion of “The Lion King,” which will have Bey­once as Nala, Don­ald Glover as Simba, James Earl Jones as his fa­ther, Mu­fasa, and Chi­we­tel Ejio­for as Scar (com­ing sum­mer of 2019).

Then come De­cem­ber 2019 we’ll fi­nally see the film ver­sion of the block­buster Broad­way show “Wicked.”

*** El­ton John, Tim Rice and An­drew Lloyd Web­ber will give us an an­i­mated “Joseph and the Amaz­ing Tech­ni­color Dream­coat” and fi­nally a film of Lloyd’s fourth-longestrun­ning show on Broad­way, “Cats,” with Os­car-win­ner Jen­nifer Hudson as Griz­abella, who sings the show-stop­ping “Mem­ory.” The cast also will boast Tay­lor Swift, James Corden and Ian McKellen.

Lin-Manuel Mi­randa reac­quired the rights to his 2008 Tony Award-win­ning hit show “In the Heights” from the We­in­stein Com­pany (at least some­thing good came from that scan­dal) and will pro­duce and star in the show. His mega Broad­way hit “Hamil­ton” will be filmed and re­leased to movie the­aters, a rare event.

Dis­ney will uti­lize the el­e­ments of its stage pro­duc­tion of “The Lit­tle Mer­maid” for a live-ac­tion film, and we also can ex­pect a re­make of the Os­car-win­ning best pic­ture “Oliver,” with Ice Cube as Fa­gan and as pro­ducer, as well as a film of Eric Idol’s Tony Award-win­ning best mu­si­cal “Spa­malot.”

For those Ca­role King fans who missed “Beau­ti­ful: The Ca­role King Mu­si­cal,” Tom Hanks has come to the res­cue and will pro­duce the film, which also will in­clude many of her great­est songs from her song­book that were not in the orig­i­nal pro­duc­tion.

And fi­nally, cast­ing calls are up for Steven Spiel­berg’s re­boot of 10-time Os­car win­ner (in­clud­ing best pic­ture) “West Side Story.” Even though the film had stars Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, Spiel­berg in­tends to use un­knowns to re-cre­ate the magic of the 1961 film.

This is the first col­umn I’ve ever writ­ten that you could hum songs from as you read it.

Photo credit: De­posit­pho­tos

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