How La La Land and Showman’s Greatest Songwriters Pasek and Paul Helped Turn Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile into a Full-Fledged Musical

Every generation seems to have a songwriting duo that composed the soundtrack to the most beloved musicals of their time. For the current one, these names are clearly Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who collaborated to compose the music for the very popular works Dear Evan Hansen, The Earth and The greatest showman. Their latest project is next movie 2022 Lyle, Lyle, Crocodileor they adapted the children’s story into a great musical about a singing croc.

When CinemaBlend recently visited Sony Pictures studios in Los Angeles, Calif., to get a first look at the live-action/animation hybrid musical, the film’s co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck explained how Pasek and Paul have realized Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile their next song and dance feature film. In the words of Gordon:

We learned a lot about musicals from Pasek and Paul, who are masters at this and it’s a much more effective narrative storytelling structure. Characters can accomplish growth in a single song that would take 10 minutes in a normal movie. So we come out of a much more narrative cinema. It was interesting to see how quickly and efficiently the audience is willing to move with you.

As the directors shared with CinemaBlend and a small group of other outlets, they had never done a musical before, previously collaborating on comedies like Blade of Glory, The switch and Office Christmas Party. However, they had a major talent in the form of the songwriting duo, which helped them realize that much of the storytelling would be done through the film’s music, most of which is sung by Shawn Mendes as the singing crocodile. Speck then said this:

And I think their choice in the beginning was to make it diegetic. We didn’t know what that word was, but what it means is that the singing is actually happening while it’s happening. So that if I start singing now, you hear me unlike a world where I have a bluebird on my finger and everyone is singing. Both are valid, but I think their choice because it was performative for Lyle was to make the music feel like it was actually happening… And that’s different from what they did. So I think that was an exciting challenge for them as well, but what they’re doing, what’s really amazing, is they’re writing their music and they’re sharing throughout the process, more musical, more lyrical moments. And then they actually just take a piano and a guitar and they set up their iPhone and they’re like, ‘Okay, that’s kind of what we were thinking.

When the characters of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile break out in song, they’re actually supposed to sing, rather than in other musicals, where it doesn’t always necessarily happen that way. For the fall release, much of Lyle’s character is a talented singing croc, and the numbers played are in his service, whereas in something like Oscar-winning musical The Earth, sometimes it’s more symbolic than physical. Gordon also said this:

So you’d be on set, you’d be like, boy, I hope these songs are good, and then you’d get this like a gold coin.

The directors shared that there are eight original songs and a few covers in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile composed by Pasek and Paul, making it a musical in its own right. The film also stars Javier Bardem, Constance Wu and Winslow Fegley, who are also among the major musical numbers, such as the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile the trailer also teased.

After the catchy catalog of the duo, of which The greatest showman press “It’s me” and The Earth‘s “City of Stars”, we’re curious which one Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile the songs will tell with the audience. The family film hits theaters on October 7.

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