Behind the Curtain

Official Blog of International City Theatre

Diary of an ICT Intern: As the stage adapts

July 9th, 2015

Les Miserables

(l) The novel Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
(r) A Broadway production of Les Miserables the musical

International City Theatre is excited to introduce Amy Patton, our Summer Administrative and Production Intern. She will be working with us this summer thru the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Internship program, and will be producing a Blog series entitled “Diary of an ICT Summer Intern.”

In biology, adaptation is defined traits in the history of an organism that survives evolution and natural selection. In the history of the great living organism of Theatre, adaptations serve as a way for older, dustier theatrical or literary works to survive the natural selection of an audience.

Adaptations can be cross-platform, such as novel-to-stage or stage-to-screen. Changing the work’s medium allows the piece to target a new or different audience, while still holding hands with its past patrons.

Some famous adaptations, such as Les Misérables, transcends all platforms. This French masterpiece started as a novel written by Victor Hugo in 1862, was first adapted for the stage by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg in 1985. Critics initially hated it. However, it picked up speed with audiences’ positive responses and has been the second longest running musical in the world since 1985. The 2012 film version of Les Mis grossed $433 million worldwide, won three Oscars and about 100 other awards. Safe to say, adapting mediums can be very successful and appeal to a wide audience.

Adapting a play can also update and modernize it so that its essence passes the natural selection of theatre patrons of today. Rent, written by Johnathan Larson in the mid-1990s, draws from the 1896 Italian opera La bohème. The original counterpart centered on the lives of bohemians/outcasts in the Latin Quarter of Paris at the time. Nearly a century later, Rent was placed in the epicenter of the AIDS/HIV outbreak in the 90s: New York City, following misfits in the East Village trying to survive life.

The Heir Apparent

Suzanne Jolie Narbonne, Wallace Angus Bruce & Paige Lindsey White in The Heir Apparent

Fast-forward to today, International City Theatre is producing the west coast premiere of David Ives’ 2011 The Heir Apparent, a transladaptation – Ives’ coined term for the crossbreeding of an adaptation and a translation. This rhyming verse comedy is an adaptation of a classic French comedy from 1708, Le Legataire Universal by Jean-Francois Regnard, the protégé of western literature comedy master Molière. Regnard’s comedic poetry inspired generations of French poets to follow, including Boileau. Aside from the general plot, Regnard’s poetic meter and cadence also survived the natural selection of the play’s adaptation. The rhyming verse transferred into Ives’ adaptation not only heightens the humor but keeps the play at a snappy and quick pace, echoing much to Regnard’s style.

Also adhering to the slapstick humor and intelligently sassy remarks of the original, The Heir Apparent adapts to its audience to serve yet another generation. The Heir Apparent runs through July 12. For more information, please visit us at or call (562) 436-4610.

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