A GAY ADOPTION BECOMES A MUSICAL.

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1A GAY ADOPTION BECOMES A MUSICAL .
2When the musical librettist Michael Zam first read `` The Kid , '' a 1999 memoir about a gay couple adopting a baby , he was certain that he wanted to turn it into a musical .
3He loved the acerbic tone of the book 's author , the syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage , and the frank portrayal of a gay man 's dream for a family .
4But rather than plunge into adaptation , Zam made it a long-term project , because he felt it would take time -- years , it turned out -- to wrest a successful show out of this particular book .
5Among the challenges posed by a musical version of `` The Kid , '' which opens off-Broadway on Monday at the New Group at Theater Row , was adding narrative tension and intrigue to a gay adoption story that was , in the memoir , funny and touching but relatively incident-free .
6Most of the unrest and angst in the book take place in Savage 's head ; how best to dramatize that ?
7And while the journey of a gay couple adopting a baby was a fresh read in 1999 , would it feel dated a decade later ?
8`` We also wanted to create a musical that was true to the experiences of Dan Savage and his partner , Terry , capture the essence of who they were , without just imposing our own plot and music on their lives , '' Zam said in a recent interview .
9`` But it was also thrilling to create a show around a person who is not your standard role-model character , who is insightful about his foibles and admits to them and who has all these powerful emotions that we knew -- somehow -- could be turned into powerful songs . ''
10As with many books-turned-musicals , the art of creating `` The Kid '' was one of fits and starts , with initially important characters like Dan 's father ultimately cast aside and the depiction of the baby 's mother -- a homeless teenager named Melissa -- carefully considered and reconsidered .
11Aiming to appeal to a wide audience , the creators also wrestled with how explicitly to render both the graphically sexual jokes in the book and the politics of gay adoption , which the creators -- most of them gay men -- did not want to shy away from in the musical .
12`` One of the great parts of the book was that it was political without being political , that it tells a story of two guys creating a family without having to shove the politics of that experience in America down audience members ' throats , '' said Scott Elliott , the director of the musical and the artistic director of the New Group .
13`` But we were also conscious of the delicacy of turning a popular book , particularly one man 's deeply felt memoir , into a piece of theater . ''
14For every book that has successfully inspired a musical , like `` Les Miserables , '' `` The Phantom of the Opera '' and `` Wicked , '' there are many more musicals that have met with mixed results in trying to faithfully adapt the sprawling plot , subplots and array of characters from popular novels .
15Recent musicals like `` A Tale of Two Cities , '' `` High Fidelity , '' `` James Joyce 's the Dead , '' `` Ragtime '' and `` The Color Purple '' sought in various ways to pack a novel 's worth of ambitions into two-and-a-half-hour shows ; in response , theater critics often judged the shows to be overstuffed .