From Screen to Stage: Using technology as a storytelling tool in stage adaptations.

Let’s dive into some of our favorite screen to stage adaptations, and how projections have been utilized as a powerful storytelling tool.

Throughout the history of cinema and theatre, the two art forms have often looked to each other for inspiration for the next hit. Adeptly transferring a story from one medium to another means conquering certain challenges (like the scenic flexibility of cinema), while capturing the essence of the story and creating an engaging onstage experience. While big budget productions can do this with relative ease, making the title universally playable across theaters of all shapes and sizes? Well, that’s where projections come in!

Let’s dive into some of our favorite screen to stage adaptations, and how projections have been utilized as a powerful storytelling tool.


The musical is inspired by the 1997 animated musical film and the 1956 Fox film, featuring the popular songs from the animated hit, including “Journey to the Past” which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The songwriters, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty remained onboard for the stage musical adaptation, composing an additional 16 new songs for the show.

When adapting a piece of cinema (particularly one on the scale of Anastasia), naturally challenges in creating fluid scene changes. With Act 1 set in St. Petersburg and Act 2 in Paris, the growth of projection technology in theatre gave the creative team (projections by Aaron Rhyne) the opportunity to direct a full travel sequence by train.

Train Sequence:

Here's how it works live:

In Anastasia, Rhyne demonstrates that projection design not only solves the screen-to-stage conundrum, but can serve as a powerful storytelling tool that is as rich in emotion as it is detail. Check out this Paris sequence:

Learn more about the show package here.


Adapted from the smash-hit animated motion picture, Shrek The Musical, sheds the pop soundtrack (save for Smash Mouth’s “I’m A Believer”, because of course) for an all-new score by Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, Or Change, Fun Home) and David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole, High Fidelity). The storyline remains much the same, and provides plenty of opportunities for amazing costumes, sets and puppets to create an amazing onstage spectacle – just as Tim Hatley did for the original Broadway production. When accounting for all the different settings and special effects required to tell the story (yes, there’s a fire-breathing dragon), your production budget could give you a case of the ogre-level grumpies. Not to worry! Projections are an affordable and gorgeous solution. Check out the following Princess Fiona rescue sequence.

Journey into the Dragon's Keep

Escaping from Fiona's Tower

Learn more about the show package here.

Roald Dahl's James & The Giant Peach

With a story that features the transatlantic adventures of a boy and lifesize insects aboard a gigantic peach, Scenic Projections can help with the many of the cinematic qualities of the script and, in turn, become a valuable storytelling tool for audiences. In the following sequence, the giant peach falls from the tree and begins its journey – flattening Spud and Spike, busting through a well-known confections factory, and out to open water!

Runaway Peach!

Learn more about the show package here.

Elf The Musical

“I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel”.

The cherished fish-out-of-water comedy starring Will Ferrell received the musical treatment in 2010, and has been a regular addition to theaters’ festive season programming ever since. Eschewing only a few scenes from the movie upon which it is based, a dynamic set is required to bring the North Pole and New York to life. But what about Buddy’s fabled journey? Well, check it out:

North Pole to new York

Learn more about the show package here.

Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR.

From screen zoo to stage, Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR follows all your favorite crack-a-lackin’ friends from the blockbuster movie from Dreamworks as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar. Bringing the tropical island to life is one thing, but how about the boat? Watch the video to see how we do it.

The Boat to Africa

Learn more about the show package here.

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