inspired by…

by kellie abrahamson
Once again it’s time to take a look at the upcoming plays and films that borrow from literature. Head to the library and pick up a few of these interesting reads.

on stage
Junie B. Jones (April 6 and 7, Florida Theatre, 353-3500)
Inspired by: the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
Junie B. is a spunky kindergartner (and, later in the series, first grader) who always speaks her mind, even when it can, and often does, get her into trouble. Her adventures usually revolve around things your average young student goes through: riding the bus for the first time, having a crush on a boy, going on field trips. As a result of these relatable storylines, Junie B.’s very believable narration (“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all.”), and characters we all can identify with, Park’s books are a hit with kids and parents alike.
In this month’s Theatreworks production Junie B. finally graduates from kindergarten and finds out what it’s like to be in first grade.

Wicked (April 23 to May 10, Times-Union Center, 632-3373)
Inspired by: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum; Wicked by Gregory Maguire
L. Frank Baum inspired many people with his tales of Oz but Maguire’s take on the land found over the rainbow has outshined most other attempts. Instead of continuing where Baum left off, Maguire went back to the very beginning to explore another person’s side of the story, that of the Wicked Witch of the West. How she became the person Oz feared the most is the basic plot of Wicked but the story also touches on politics, sex, growing up, growing apart and dealing with loss. This is not a book for children, despite its literary roots, so delve into Maguire’s Oz after you tuck the kids into bed!
Broadway’s version of Wicked is much more family-friendly and focuses mostly on the friendship between Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch, and Glinda, who we’ll come to know as Glinda the good.

on screen
Forbidden Lie$ (in select theaters April 3)
Inspired by: Forbidden Love by Norma Khouri
Khouri’s book tells the supposedly true story of a Muslim woman and her chaste love affair with a Christian solider, who is later stabbed to death by the woman’s father in a so-called honor killing. The book became an international bestseller when it hit shelves in 2003 but was later revealed to be a complete fabrication. Forbidden Lie$ is an Australian documentary the follows the disgraced author as she tries to prove that her book was not a work of fiction. The fascinating film has won a number of awards while making the rounds in the film festival circuit.

The Informers (in theaters April 24)
Inspired by: The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis
Known for penning Less Than Zero, American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction, Ellis is no stranger to the book-to-film phenomenon. This time around, Hollywood is taking on the author’s 1994 short story collection The Informers. Set in 1980s Los Angeles, the film consists of seven stories taking place over the course of a week, following the lives of movie executives, rock stars and other morally challenged characters. Ellis is known for weaving past characters into his newer works, so fans should be on the lookout for those references.

The Soloist (in theaters April 24)
Inspired by: The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez.
Inspiration can come from the written word in virtually any form. Case in point, The Soloist, a film based on Los Angeles Times articles by Steven Lopez. The journalist wrote a series of columns about Nathaniel Ayers, a schizophrenic homeless man who once attended Julliard and is a gifted violinist. Lopez chronicled his growing friendship with Ayres’ and his slow transition out of homelessness. The story was so inspiring to readers that Lopez turned his articles into a book that is now a film starring Jaime Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.