Tilda Swinton In Hip Remake Of ‘Auntie Mame’ Gets Us Thinking: Five Other Musicals That Should Be Updated

While promoting their new film “I Am Love” at the Venice Film Festival, actress-producer Tilda Swinton and director Luca Guadagnino announced plans to collaborate again on a remake of “Auntie Mame,” previously reworked as the musical “Mame,” Variety reports. The duo has no legitimate rights to the original novel by Patrick Dennis nor either film version; they’re merely using this opportunity to send out an “SOS” to Warner Bros. of their intentions to remake the film with Swinton as the titular eccentric who takes in her orphaned nephew.

While it’s unclear if their plan is to make another musical version of the story, Guadagnino does say it will be a “rock-n-roll, super funny, super mainstream movie,” implying at least a soundtrack-heavy project. Fans of the original film would certainly be more okay with something supplanting the remake, with its forgettable vocal performance by Lucille Ball — though Bea Arthur devotees may protest.

Assuming it does get (re)made, and assuming it is modernized as a hip, youth-centered rock musical, we’ve selected five other musicals that could benefit from a similar reworking.

“West Side Story”
Just as “The Warriors” is being remade with the setting switched to the more gang-heavy city of Los Angeles, an updated “West Side Story” could also be moved from New York City to the West Coast. Maybe even title it “West Coast Story.” The music would be more modern of course, but more importantly, so would the dancing. When I was young, people always made fun of the idea of dancing gang members. Nowadays it’s easy to imagine the Jets and Sharks battling with street dance moves as much as with knives. We already saw some nice re-casting ideas this year in the pages of Vanity Fair. And a few years back, Katherine McPhee told MTV that she’d be interested in a Baz Luhrman-directed remake of “Story.”

“My Fair Lady”
Hollywood is always redoing the “Pygmalion” story, but it’s now time for a new musical version that takes a high school movie like “She’s All That” to more “My Fair Lady” territory. Rather than simply giving the Eliza character a makeover in appearance, manners and enunciation, this modernization would turn a seemingly tone-deaf, musically inept loser into a popular rock or pop singer. In a way, this plot update combines “My Fair Lady” with “A Star is Born.” The rights to both musicals should be held by Warner Bros., and the execs probably wouldn’t mind making a mash-up.

“The Music Man”
The dream to become a famous singer is clearly bigger than ever these days (see also: “American Idol”), so a movie about a con man who promises to turn a town’s youths into musical talents sounds very relevant. The Robert Preston role could even be made more Simon Cowell-esque — though we’d prefer a grumpy Colin Firth type to Hugh Grant this time. As for the Marian character, she should still be a hot librarian, because that’s a stereotype that appeals to every generation.

“Kiss Me Kate”
Given that 3-D musical versions of “Hamlet” and other Shakespeare plays are headed to the big screen, Hollywood should redo “Kiss Me Kate” with the setting moved from a Broadway stage to a high school auditorium to make it more “High School Musical”-like. The plot centers on a production of the Bard’s “Taming of the Shrew,” which is also the basis for the hit film and new TV spin-off “10 Things I Hate About You.” Also, the first film adaptation of “Kiss Me Kate” was released in 3-D, so this new one could follow suit and cash in on the gross-benefiting gimmick.

We’ve seen Miley Cyrus as a brunette and as a blonde (Hanna Montana!). Isn’t it time we saw her as a ginger? Specifically, a redhead with a big, curly helmet of hair? And a dog named Sandy? Jay-Z has already kind of proven that songs from this orphan musical can and should be modernized. Now just imagine a rap version of “Easy Street” and a more rock-tinged “Tomorrow.” Although it would go against the whole setting of the original comic strip, a contemporary version would still be relevant, especially if you’re replacing the original’s Great Depression backdrop with the current financial crisis. Annie could even go to the White House to meet Obama, rather than FDR. Who wouldn’t want to hear our latest Commander-in-Chief sing “Tomorrow”?