This post started because of my latest obsession with a musical – Hamilton. Having been lucky enough to see it in previews in December of last year, I wanted to know more – more about the man, more about the history and more about the musical – so I naturally turned to our library catalogue. I found a fair few books – novels, Young Adult fiction and, although I am in no way musically able, scores if I wanted to see the songs on the page. This got me thinking – what other musicals and plays take their inspiration from the written word?
Many I knew – the biggies like Phantom of the Opera , Les Miserables and Mary Poppins – and have read over the years (full disclosure, I may have skimmed bits of Les Mis, but the thing is huge!). Some I have always loved and after seeing a production, have bought copies of the source material – this illustrated version of T S Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s book of practical cats’ is one of my favourites as is the recently published picture book version Skimbleshanks (my favourite song from the show)
Some though, I was not aware of – did you know there was a musical version of ‘Carrie’? Others I only found out more about when I did some delving – West Side Story being inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for example, or that the ‘Commitments’ film was based on the Roddy Doyle novel.
I guess it’s not really surprising that many of the plays and musicals that light up the West End and Broadway are adapted to light up our cinema screens and vice versa. Many of the plays/scores are available in the Warwickshire Music and Drama Collection so if you’re anything like me and like to read along to the music, you can request to your hearts content!
‘Into the Woods’, ‘Phantom’ and ‘Les Mis’ all spring to mind as recent big screen adaptations while production of the film version of ‘Wicked’ is rumoured. Based on Gregory Maguire’s reimagining of the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, this is one I cannot wait to see.
So I’ve mentioned a few of the more obvious examples, but what have I missed? Let me know in the comments and help me to continue expanding my love of musicals and theatre.