If you were a kid who grew up during the ‘80s, then you probably remember Labyrinth, the 1986 Jim Henson movie about a teenage girl (Jennifer Connelly) whose baby brother gets kidnapped by the Goblin King (David Bowie). Most people remember the film for its delightfully weird puppets or Bowie’s inappropriately large bulge. But now a whole new generation might be exposed to the magic (and perhaps another Goblin King’s bulge) thanks to the fact that a Labyrinth stage musical adaptation and a sequel are currently in the works.
According to Broadway.com, Brian Henson, chairman of the Jim Henson Company and son of the movie’s late director, said, “We are working on a theatrical adaptation of the original movie for the stage.”
He also revealed that the company is working on Labyrinth sequel.
“Those are the two areas of excitement for the Labyrinth property that we have,” Henson said. “We are working on both of those, but I certainly don’t have a timeline for them.”
Sadly, neither Henson nor Broadway.com revealed any more details about the project, so it’s unclear whether the stage musical would incorporate Bowie’s songs from the original film.
However, we did hear last year that Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez will direct the film and co-write it with Jay Basu. Alvarez said the new film wouldn’t be a remake but rather a new story within the universe created in the original movie — “more like a spinoff than a sequel.”
Henson also doesn’t necessarily think that the Labyrinth musical would end up on Broadway.
“Not necessarily Broadway,” Henson said. “It could be for London’s West End, but it will be a stage show, a big theatrical version. It’s very exciting.”
Understanding the cultural context (and staying power) of Labyrinth
The original Labyrinth came out during the 1980s fantasy movie fad, a trend that spawned other elf and magic-filled films like The Dark Crystal (1982), The Last Unicorn (1982), The NeverEnding Story (1984), Legend (1985), Return to Oz (1985), The Princess Bride (1987) and Willow (1988).
The film followed the coming-of-age trope of a young girl transported to a magical land to undergo a journey of maturation, a trope we’ve seen in other fantastical works like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and even the 2001 animated Japanese film Spirited Away.
Labyrinth appealed to these sensibilities while also appealing to fans of Henson’s puppetry and Bowie’s music and his status as an imaginative outsider whose work conjured dreamlike worlds unlike our own.