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10 Musicals Adapted From Novels

Inspiration for musicals comes from a wide variety of sources, from Disney movies, to comic strips, to rock band tributes, to biblical stories. One of my personal favorite sources of inspiration for musical theatre is the novel. Here are 10 popular musicals adapted from novels.

1. Phantom of the Opera


Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wildly successful musical The Phantom of the Opera was adapted from the 1909 novel of the same name.

2. Les Miserables


The world-famous musical Les Miserables, or Les Mis, was adapted from Victor Hugo’s 1862 tome.

3. Ragtime


Ragtime is a gorgeous musical based on a work of historical fiction by E.L. Doctorow.

4. Woman in White


Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White was adapted from Wilkie Collins’ 1859 mystery novel.

5. The Secret Garden


Frances Hodgson Burnett’s childhood classic The Secret Garden, first published in 1910, was turned into a beautiful musical by Lucy Simon.

6. Wicked


Although the sweet-natured Elphaba in Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked bears little resemblance to the one in Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same title, the musical still shares plenty of elements with the book.

7. Oliver


If you were a child who grew up doing a lot of musicals, it’s likely that you at some point at least auditioned for Lionel Bart’s Oliver musical, adapted from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

8. Cats


This is a fun one. Andrew Lloyd Webber, who seems to be making this list a lot, adapted his musical Cats from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a book of poems written by T.S. Eliot in 1939.

9. The Color Purple


The Color Purple musical, by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray was adapted from Alice Walker’s 1982 epistolary novel.

10. The Phantom


I couldn’t resist throwing this one in. The Phantom musical, by Maury Yeston, is an entirely different musical than The Phantom of the Opera but was adapted from the same novel by Gaston Leroux. Maury Yeston’s Phantom was first presented in 1991, a few years after Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much more popular production.

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