There have been plenty of musicals adapted from films, but with the announcement that Audrey Niffenegger’s best selling novel The Time Traveller’s Wife is being transformed into a musical, we look at other books that have made a successful transition to the stage.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker: it really is no wonder that this Pulitzer Prize winning novel was transformed into a musical. Filled with drama, anguish and impressive female leading character Celie – who is more than certainly one of the strongest female characters ever created. It was really highlighted in the Curve Theatre’s recent concert revival of its 2019 production that this is a story that stays with you whether its by page or by stage.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire: given the immense popularity of the musical, it can be difficult to remember that this retelling of The Wizard of Oz was based on Gregory Maguire’s book that was based on another book by L. Frank Braum. If you are missing the musical, then it is worth reading both the books that it is based on – but particularly Maguire’s which gives a strong back story for Elphaba.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugothis is certainly one of the most popular book to stage adaptations to be featured here, particularly given how long the musical has lasted in the West End. So what is it about this story? Well I think its because it is a story that is filled with a diverse range of characters dealing with a huge range of issues set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. The drama of the story lends itself naturally to songs filled with power and passion.

Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon: also known as the musical The King & I, this story is based on the true story of Anna Leonowens, who travelled to Siam to teach the children of the Siamese King Mongkut. Worth a read if you are looking to experience the story of the King & I in a different way.

Tales of the South Pacific by  James A Michener: going onto inspire the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, this book sweeps the reader to this exotic land. Filled with stories and characters all set against the backdrop of World War II, it feels like it is worth a read if you are a fan of the musical.

These are just a few in a wide selection of books to go onto inspire stage musicals – so we will have revisit this again in the near future for more page to stage adaptations.

By Emma Clarendon


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