Neil Gaiman's works are no stranger to multiple mediums. With his stories onscreen ("Stardust," "MirrorMask") as well as onstage ("Mr. Punch," "The Wolves In the Walls") it only seems natural that "Coraline," the author's award-winning children's book (as well as graphic novel, 3D animated film and video game) has been joined by a musical incarnation.
Playing now through June 20 at MCC's Lucille Lortel Theatre, the musical features lyrics and music by Stephin Merritt ("The Magnetic Fields"), with a book by David Greenspan. Leigh Silverman is directing and Jayne Houdyshell ("Wicked") stars as the reality-hopping Coraline.
In an interview with BlackBook Merritt explained how his relationship with Gaiman culminated in a fully realized production.
"I asked other people to come on board. I got the rights from [Gaiman]. I was already friends with Neil when 'Coraline' was written," said Merrit. "He asked me to do the music for the audiobook. So I wrote the song 'You Are Not My Mother and I Want to Go Home.' The instrumental versions and the full song, at the end of the audiobook. I hired the writer and the director [Silverman]."
Don't expect "Coraline" to pull a "Disney," though. Fans of Gaiman's dark fantasy tale won't be experiencing a stage version transposed from the motion picture, but rather a fresh, unconventional interpretation of Gaiman's original novella. Many of Merritt's tunes, for example, are emitted from a prepared piano (think a regular piano with office supplies shoved in the works) and Houdyshell, who portrays the pre-teen protagonist, is in her mid-50s.
Just because the musical took its own path doesn't mean Merritt isn't a fan of the source material's other adaptations, either. In fact, he says he thinks the movie is his favorite 3D film ever. Still, Merritt seems to ultimately prefere his own project.
"We like to think to say that our 3-D is more realistic, is absolutely perfect. And our actors move effortlessly," said Merritt.
What do you think "Coraline" fans? Is this musical a proper fit for Gaiman's tale? Sound off in the comments.