Almodóvar’s Broadway Arrival

Pedro Almodóvar’s unmatched body of work is receiving what can either be considered an ultimate sign of respect or a risk-filled move – a Broadway musical adaptation.

Almodóvar’s 1988 Gazpacho-laced screwball classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, adapted for the stage by director Bartlett Sher, book writer Jeffrey Lane and composer and lyricist David Yazbek, began preview performances on October 8 and will open on November 4.

Almodóvar, unsurprisingly and necessarily so, has been involved with the project since 2005. The director, known for his meticulous attention to the smallest details, broke down the 90-minute film for the creative team, shot by shot, frame by frame. (That’s a conversation I would have killed to sit in on.)

Women on the Verge tackles a theme prevolent in nearly every one of Almodóvar’s seventeen films: how women exist in the world when they have been adandoned by men. But how female solidarity comes to be in these films – and now musical adaptation – is most intriguing.  In Women on the Verge, female solidarity is the result of pure madness and hilarity. The musical takes place over two days while Pepa (played by two-time Tony nominee Sherie Rene Scott) attempts to reveal a secret to her womanzing boyfriend, Ivan (Brian Stokes Mitchell). Patti LuPone stars as Lucia, a woman who has been in a mental hospital ever since her husband left her; she returns to enact her revenge. Not to mention terrorists, gazpacho and wild motocyclists all play central roles in Women on the Verge.

All the necessary pieces seem to be in place – a proven creative team, a stellar cast, and even the guidance of the auteur himself. Still the question remains: Is the Broadway stage really big enough for Almodóvar?

So far the answer might be yes. The challenges that exist with adapting a Spanish-language film for audiences most likely unfamiliar with Almodóvar’s work are monumental. The amount of planning and depth that goes into an Almodóvar production is astounding and this has generated technical challenges for the production.

In spite of the obvious challenge of this musical to Broadway, what makes Women on the Verge a fascinating adaptation is that this film has been revisited by Almodóvar in 2009’s Broken Embraces. It will exciting to see how creative minds other than Almodóvar approach his work.

Tickets for Womeon on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown are on sale now.

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