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musicals based on books

Musicals Based on Books which you can watch in London’s West End

For decades, production houses have been adapting books for TV shows and films. However, many people often forget that stage shows are also adaptations. In fact, musicals are often inspired by books.

Here are the best musicals based on books which you can watch in London.

Musicals Based on Books

1. Les Misérables

Les Misérables is a musical adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel. Written in 1862, the writer was inspired by the 1832 June Rebellion in Paris. Victor Hugo is also the renowned author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Unlike the musical, the book is much darker. There is a lot more kidnapping and murdering by the Thenardiers.

The musical tells a different story. Set amid the political and social struggles of 19th Century France, it tells the story of Jean Valjean. The former prisoner is being pursued by Javert, his policeman nemesis. In fact, Javert has been pursuing Valjean for decades.

Their epic cat and mouse journey takes them through the gritty Parisian sewers, the French fields and more. As one of the longest-running musicals globally, it tells a story of sacrifice, love, passion, redemption and broken dreams.

The musical includes numbers such as “Do You Hear The People Sing”, “On My Own”, and “One Day More.” However, its best song is “I Dreamed A Dream, ” made famous by numerous artists from Susan Boyle to Katherine Jenkins. Directed by Cameron Mackintosh, more than 120 million people watched the musical.

Catch the show at the West End – Sondheim Theatre.

Musicals Based on Books

2. Wicked

Another popular musical is Wicked. Celebrating fourteen spellbinding years, it’s based on Gregory Maguire’s novel. The musical reimagines the characters and stories created by L. Frank Braum in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

It tells the story of a profound but unlikely tale between Glinda, a popular girl and Elphaba, the shy girl. Glinda is a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular. On the other hand, Elphaba is a smart, fiery young woman who possess extraordinary talent. However, she is born with green skin and misunderstood.

The two young women first meet as sorcery students, and when they encounter the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their lives change. They embark on different paths, and their journeys see them achieve their destinies. Glinda becomes the Good, while Elphaba, the shy but misunderstood girl becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.

Wicked is a two-time winner of the Olivier Audience Award. As the 9th longest-running musical in West End history, over 55 million people watched it worldwide. This includes 10 million people in London alone.

The running time for the show is 2 hours and 45 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. It’s recommended for children 8 years old and up. Catch the musical at the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Musicals Based on Books

3. The Phantom Of The Opera

Based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 French novel, the Phantom of the Opera is a haunting love story. It tells the tale of the Phantom living beneath the majesty and splendour of the Opera House in Paris.

Shamed by his physical appearance, the Phantom haunts the public areas and backstage. However, he ends up falling in love with Christine Daae, a young chorus singer.

The Phantom transforms the chorus singer into a star. His love for her grows so strong that eventually, he asks her to spend her life with him. However, she’s rescued. The Phantom becomes devastated and vows revenge.

The musical has won more than 70 major theatre awards. They include three Olivier Awards in the West End and seven Tonys. It’s also been the winner of the Olivier Audience Award. Currently in its 35th year, the musical continues to captivate its audience and grossed more than $6 billion worldwide.

Over 140 million people have already watched the stage musical. Music is by Andrew L Webber and lyrics by Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart. The musical is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Musicals Based on Books

4. Matilda the Musical

Experience the much-loved tale of Matilda, the extraordinary child with abusive parents. Based on the 1988 children’s novel by the same name by Roald Dahl, the musical narrative centres on the 5-year-old girl.

Matilda Wormwood is a child with an incredible talent for learning. Her uncaring parents do not care for their daughter’s education or for her. However, she excels intellectually and even discovers that she has the gift of telekinesis.

Every time her parents treat her badly, she teaches them a lesson and even her tyrannical headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. The musical began its twelve-week trial run at Stratford-upon-Avon. Staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company, it received its West End premiere in 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre.

Due to its popularity, the musical has won seven Olivier Awards, including the Best New Musical. It’s the longest-running production to play at the Cambridge Theatre. Directed by Matthew Warchus, it’s adapted for the stage by Dennis Kelly, the renowned writer. His previous plays include Osama The Hero and the Gods Weep.

Music and lyrics are by Australian comedian and musician, Tim Minchin. His beloved songs include the School Song. Catch the musical at the Cambridge Theatre.

Final Thoughts

London’s West End is home to amazing musicals inspired by books. Shows like Les Misérables, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, and Matilda turn great stories into unforgettable musical experiences.

Whether you love books or enjoy musicals, these shows in London are perfect for seeing famous stories come alive on stage.

Holly Jay

I Love Musical Theatre and made the Theatre Queen Blog To Share My Experiences, Reviews & Theatre News.