Midnight Cowboy is one of the great films. It’s a movie that’s heartbreaking, funny, honest, full of great lines and has a young Bob Balaban as a shy gay guy getting beat up in a Times Square grindhouse bathroom. It’s a movie that I love to revisit because of the depth of character and the beautiful friendship between dimwitted gigolo Joe Buck and the aptly named hustler Ratso Rizzo. It’s also one of the movies that reminds you why Dustin Hoffman is so famous today.
I guess I can see wanting to remake the film. I don’t think it’s a good idea, and I don’t think you could ever recapture the spirit and time-specific aspects of the movie that make it great, but that impulse makes some sense to me. What I find more baffling is the urge to make the movie into a play. A play with music.
Yes, a play with music. I guess that’s somehow different from a musical, but I really want to see a Ratso Rizzo song and dance number. Imagine incorporating that limp into some really modern dance!
It turns out that this is not a hoax, is not an imaginary story. It’s not even something that’s coming – like Roadhouse: The Musical, Midnight Cowboy: The Play With Music is happening right now. The movie is one of five MGM films that have been or are being turned into shows (Legally Blonde and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert are among the others, but who really gives a shit about those anyway? Except women and people who appear on or watch Project Runway), and while the rest are on their way, Midnight Cowboy has already played at the Edinburgh Festival in July, and will be hitting the West End in London. I beg any of our English Chewers to get me a review of this.
What’s the future of the show? Could it end up playing in one of the Broadway theaters that have been rehabbed from their shitty grindhouse days – could the same streets Joe Buck once walked and worked come to be the streets where Joe Buck acts and (doesn’t actually) sings? Please, lord, please.