Obsessive List of Books that Should be turned into Musicals

One of my favorite book based musicals

What makes a book a good candidate for musical theater?

  • plenty of action
  • fresh material
  • intense emotion
  • where bursting into song at the drop of a hat isn’t awkward 😉

Here is my list of books that I think would make for a fantastic musical experience.

  1. Hadassah by Tommy Tenney – This book tells the story of Esther through the eyes of her descendants. The powerful portrayal of a young Jewish girl forced to become the wife of a king who will save her people from extinction. The movie did a great job of telling the story but song might be a better way to communicate some of the raw emotion of the situations Esther ends up in.
  2. The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma – H.G. Wells? Check. Funny Narrator? Check. Time Travel? Check. Con men? Check. Overly emotional and dramatic characters? Double check. Tons of Great Roles for Men? Check. I think you get the point 😉
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss – I’m shocked this one hasn’t been done yet! There are already some great songs associated with the story. Add in a few more and bam! Instant musical!
  4. Songmaster by Orson Scott Card – The way this book talks about music alone makes it musical worthy. The whole time I was reading, I wanted to hear the music going through the author’s mind at the time. I can’t even imagine how powerful a musical based on this book would be! Some of the scenes might be difficult to transfer to the stage but if they could figure it out…
  5. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson – I know I’m getting some very puzzled looks right now. People are going what is she thinking? Sweeney Todd is what I’m thinking. A musical about a whole town who sacrifices one person just because it is the way it has always been. The turmoil of having to give up your life, your friend, your family member, etc. How people deal with the grief. This would require some expanding by a talented writer but it would be a powerful story.
  6. Fairest of All by Serena Valentino– What made Snow White’s stepmother hate her so much? is the basic idea behind this book. It’s a powerful story and I love seeing fairy tales from the villain’s point of view 🙂
  7. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – A book about a spider saving the life of a pig. Great stuff. With the stylized musicals about animals that Disney has done as a template, this could make a great musical. If it is done well.
  8. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett – The story of a little girl who has it all, losing her life completely but never giving up hope. It’s a great story but finding a young actress to play Sara might prove difficult.
  9. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas – A musical all about getting revenge on the people who wronged you. The only trick would be cutting down the source material while allowing the story to still make sense. This one would be a LONG musical but has the potential to be the next Les Miserables if done correctly.
  10. Matilda by Roald Dahl – Okay, I debated putting this one on the list but decided to for the purely selfish reason that  would love to see this as a musical. I don’t know how many others would, but to me, this would be great fun with songs worked in. Good luck finding a kid to play the title role though. **note – after writing this article I found out that there is a musical based on this book but it hasn’t made it to the US.

What do you think? Love my list? Hate it? Did I miss one (or more) that you thought should be included?


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