From the page to the stage: 8 musicals based on books

These world-famous musicals were all originally inspired by works of literature.

02/07/2018
2 minutes to read

You've seen the shows, you can sing along to all the songs, but did you know that these award-winning musicals were all inspired by works of literature?

The Phantom of the Opera

by Gaston Leroux

Book cover for 9781509826674

A story of strange happenings and a mysterious 'phantom' who lurks in the shadows of the Paris Opera House, Gaston Leroux's gothic novel was adapted for the stage by Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1986. Since then, The Phantom of the Opera has run for over 16,000 consecutive performances, becoming the longest-running Broadway show of all time.

Alexander Hamilton

by Ron Chernow

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Lin Manuel Miranda cites Ron Chernow's 2004 800-page biography of Alexander Hamilton – which he picked up on a whim at an airport bookshop – as the inspiration for his multi-award winning musical about the extraordinary life of one of America's Founding Fathers.

Les Misérables

by Victor Hugo

Book cover for 9781909621497

Since premiering in Paris in 1980, the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic French novel has been performed to over 70 million people in 44 countries and translated into over twenty languages. 

Matilda

by Roald Dahl

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Adapted for the stage by comedian and performer Tim Minchin, Matilda: The Musical has all of the same humour, and horror, as Roald Dahl's classic children's book about an extraordinary young girl and the gruesome grown-ups who surround her.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

by Ian Fleming

Book cover for 9781909621442

Ian Fleming's only children's book was adapted for the West End in 2002, with the musical production of the story of Caracatus Potts and his flying car earning itself a place in the record books. Chitty, who was built especially for the London Palladium's stage at the cost of £750,000, was declared by Guinness Book of World Records to be the 'most expensive stage prop ever'.

Oliver Twist

by Charles Dickens

Book cover for 9781509825370

The Tony award-winning musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist opened in the West End in 1960 and has since been translated into and performed in over twenty languages, including Japanese, Dutch and Estonian.

The Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum

Book cover for 9781509881963

Inspired by Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz, Gregory Maguire's 1995 reimagining of the story of the Wicked Witch of the East proved the inspiration for a musical of the same name; which has been running on Broadway since it opened in 2003. A film adaptation of Wicked is currently in production.

Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

by T. S. Eliot

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Another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical inspired by literature, the idea for Cats and its cast of feline characters came from T.S. Eliot's 1939 whimsical poetry collection, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.