There are a multitude of examples of books that have been turned into movies, but there have been some that first took to the stage before hitting the big screen. Growing up, my parents took me to a bunch of performances at local theatres as well as several traveling Broadway performances. Through them all, I grew to love both the music and the storytelling ability that these performances were able to create on stage. When I was a little older, I got a chance to read the books that inspired the musicals and plays that I had enjoyed so much as a child and I would encourage others to take a chance and read some of the wonderful books that then made their way to the main stage.
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
This is probably my absolute favorite musical with a wide range of emotions, beautiful music, and riveting, interwoven stories that all take place during the tumultuous time during the French Revolution and its immediate aftermath. Many have seen the musical or the film that stars Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, and others, but the book by Victor Hugo brings another layer of depth to the wide assortment of characters that made me feel the suffering and pain of these various characters so much more.
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
The iconic music that accompanies Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical adaptation of the French mystery novel by Gaston Leroux is unavoidable for anyone who has seen several stage performances. Originally printed in the newspaper before being compiled into a book, The Phantom of the Opera focuses on some mysterious happenings of an opera house in Paris that seems to surround a shadowy figure. Delving into the mystery and obsession that seems to combine Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Phantom of the Opera is a story that is captivating from the beginning to end.
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Immensely popular since it hit the Broadway stage, Wicked brings about a different perspective on the classic tale of The Wizard of Oz. Centering on the upbringing and life of the Wicked Witch of the West, given the name Elphaba, and how she became the rival of the Wizard of Oz in L. Frank Baum’s story from the early 20th century. This version of the story provides an alternative to how Elphaba is viewed and speaks to how in every story, there are varying perspectives and sometimes the person who seems to be a villain in one version can actually be the hero in another.
If you have already had a chance to read the three I've highlighted, try some of these other titles and film adaptations.
You may have seen them on Broadway, but have you read the book that inspired the theatrical performance?