Next Wednesday, Dec. 19, the world’s favorite persnickety yet perfect nanny reappears to stir hearts once more in Rob Marshall’s “Mary Poppins Returns.” That begs the question: why stop now? Why should we settle for just one iconic musical resurgence? Below you’ll find ten legendary musicals that equally deserve sequel treatment.
10. “Sing Street”
Where It Left Off: Teen rockers Conor and Raphina escape from their Irish trappings and set sail to London for a fresh start.
Where the Story Should Go Next: With the lovers in a new land without any means to support themselves, perhaps they can live up to their movie title and rack up money entertaining tourists and locals in Piccadilly Square. From there, I imagine they could fend off hounding record producers who want to take away creative control from “Cosmo” Conor. Perhaps their songs playing on the radio will convince Conor’s mates to hop across the sea to demonstrate the commercial value of camaraderie.
Should Be Directed By: John Carney – Pushed his characters to musical freedom so joyfully the first time that round two should only widen those limitless bounds.
9. “Fiddler on the Roof”
Where It Left Off: To avoid the impending Nazi occupation, the villagers of Anatevka, Ukraine disperse to different parts of the globe. Although Tevye’s family will be separated, his wife Golde apprises their youngest daughter of their American destination.
Where the Story Should Go Next: One hopes Tevye sees the devastation ensued by intolerance and forgives his daughter for marrying outside the faith. The families could reunite with their guardian fiddler in tow in either America or the reestablished state of Israel. Such a move to the biblical motherland would surely coax plenty of drama offset by another round of joyful singing.
Should Be Directed By: Barbra Streisand – Proved both scholar and devotee of the faith with 1983’s “Yentl,” making her the ideal director to revisit the lives of one of cinema’s most vivacious Jewish families.
8. “Singin’ in the Rain”
Where It Left Off: The ending leads into the title of the film, whereby Kathy (Debbie Reynolds) and Don (Gene Kelly) celebrate with a smooch to mark the opening of their new film. Kathy is also front-and-center now that it’s been revealed she’s the vocal talent behind Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen).
Where the Story Should Go Next: The possibilities are endless, though perhaps an interesting spin would be to have the offspring of Don and Kathy likewise pursue an entertainment career. He or she could be a closeted gay performer forced to hide their sexuality from both the studios and press. Behind-the-scenes dance routines featuring this child and their same-sex partner or other love interests would certainly be a trailblazing move for a genre primarily upheld by LGBTQ artists and audiences.
Should Be Directed By: Ryan Murphy – His “Glee” directing background and LGBTQ advocacy for onscreen representation make him the perfect individual to helm this sequel.
Where It Left Off: Deena (Beyoncé Knowles) reunites with Effie (Jennifer Hudson) and C.C. (Keith Robinson) to take down opportunistic record executive Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) once and for all.
Where the Story Could Go Next: A comeback tour that expands the original trio to a quartet. Rather than fighting between a contemporary disco and classic Motown sound, the group can incorporate both. Effie and Deena’s contentiousness can continue temporarily since their feelings weren’t entirely resolved from the first film. However, with the rise of new genres overtaking the radio waves, it would be exciting to see the Dreamgirls assert themselves back onto the top of the charts.
Should Be Directed By: Gina Prince-Bythewood – Her blistering portrait of the pitfalls of pop-stardom in “Beyond the Lights” qualifies her for an even bigger “behind-the-music” unveiling.
Where It Left Off: Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) decides to stay at the Kit Kat Klub and carry on performing while Brian (Michael York) returns to London to complete his studies. The rise of Nazism in Berlin transforms the counter-culture, safe haven nightclub into a den where evil congregates.
Where the Story Could Go Next: For starters, this sequel is a great excuse for Garland lookalike Anne Hathaway to finally portray one of her idols. As for the narrative, audiences would surely witness Bowles and Joel Grey’s “Master of Ceremonies” escape their current occupation or else try to subvert Nazi patronage of the club from within. World War II resistance via musical numbers hasn’t been depicted very often if ever in film, making this sequel a potential game-changer.
Should Be Directed By: Christopher Nolan – Serving history honorably with last year’s stupendous “Dunkirk,” the only greater challenge would be returning to World War II while attempting a genre entirely foreign to him.
Where It Left Off: With Hades dragged into the Styx, Hercules and Meg finally can live (and love) peacefully on Earth, unbound to Zeus or Mount Olympus.
Where the Story Could Go Next: As one of the rare Disney films without an official direct-to-video sequel, “Hercules II” could go numerous directions considering the abundance of Greek mythology to mine from. One of the demigod’s many famed adventures was encountering the Amazon women while on a mission to steal their leader Hippolyte’s girdle. The Disney protagonist would never attempt such a dastardly mission unless persuaded against his will.
Devising a plan to return Hercules to Olympus, Zeus and/or Hera could hypnotize Hercules into committing cruel acts in order to sever his popularity among humans. Meg could form an alliance with the Amazons to mount a counter-defense against Hercules’s formerly benevolent parents. It would be fascinating to see the Gods of Mount Olympus get knocked down a few rungs in the morality department, especially through the lens of animated storytelling.
Should Be Directed By: Jennifer Lee – Pioneer work in “Frozen” and its upcoming sequel ooze confidence in Lee’s ability to prioritize female agency by deconstructing classic Disney tropes.
4. “Into the Woods”
Where It Left Off: With the witch (Meryl Streep) vanishing – or vanquishing depending on interpretation – and the other characters left to contend with their epilogue fates in somber unity, this twisted Disney re-imagining doesn’t offer a “Happily Ever After.”
Where the Story Could Go Next: Streep’s Witch should come back in some other capacity, but instead of sending the characters on another “Macguffin” quest, she could instead find herself in the midst of a new Grimm fairy tale. What would really turn trope assumptions asunder is having the main villain be the princess or prince, and their nemesis the victims. For instance, the Witch could find herself at the mercy of Snow White’s malevolence, driven by an ego that makes the entire kingdom and surrounding wildlife (once friends) quiver in fear.
Should Be Directed By: Angelina Jolie – With giant set task-mastering experience and a personal connection to nuanced Disney villainy (“Maleficent”), Jolie seems primed to improve upon Rob Marshall’s fairy tale foray.
3. “The Road to El Dorado”
Where It Left Off: Tulio, Migue, and Chel leave the city of El Dorado with no riches to show for and no possibility of return. However, their hustling trio dynamic remains completely intact.
Where the Story Could Go Next: With El Dorado located in South America, it wouldn’t take a trip across the ocean to find more gold to buy all of Spain. The love triangle can make their way up north, encountering the Aztecs and Native Americans of California on their journey to what’s now known as El Dorado County, nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. With Cortez very much alive and in hot pursuit, the story can certainly bend historical truths as a race for a new golden acquisition begins.
Should Be Directed By: Brenda Chapman – Co-director of 1998’s biblical animation stunner “The Prince of Egypt,” Chapman would be the ideal fit to take over DreamWorks Animation’s sister 2D property that never got a proper shot at mainstream love.
2. “West Side Story”
Where It Left Off: Unlike the original Shakespeare play, this version of “Romeo and Juliet” ends with one lover left alive. Maria is seen mourning the death of her beloved Tony alongside both sets of gang affiliates.
Where the Story Could Go Next: Putting aside the Steven Spielberg reboot for a second, why not focus on Maria repairing her heart now that she finally has the freedom to explore it? Unlike Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” or Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born,” the audience’s dependence on the material isn’t solely anchored by its centerpiece couple. Maria can help broker peace within the neighborhood now that she’s established a detente. Maybe she discovers she is pregnant with Tony’s child and subsequently the baby grows into adulthood conflicted by ethnic and cultural loyalties.
Should Be Directed By: Ava DuVernay – this trailblazing director often cites “West Side Story” as the movie that spurred her love of film, making her a prime individual to continue this multicultural drama by doing what she does better than anyone: inclusion of people of color across all crafts.
Where It Left Off: After failed solo vaudeville acts, performers Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renée Zelwegger) agree to join forces for a final combined act that ends in rousing acclaim.
Where the Story Could Go Next: While Velma and Roxie’s rivalry spurns much of the drama, their eventual truce turns out to be the true showstopper. With the demise of vaudeville looming over them, the starlets could reignite their flames by trying their luck in cinema. Perhaps the conflict that would tear the two apart can stem from the pressures of celebrity culture and industry sexism. Or one can pursue a career in film and the other would pursue a stand-up comedian career with theatrical elements. Either way, Velma and Roxie’s unscrupulous charms deserve revisiting.
Should Be Directed By: Rob Marshall – Conducted with flawless flair the first time; a return should aim for the “Best Director” Oscar that eluded him previously.