The West End is packed full of original pieces of theatre however perhaps some of our best loved shows are those based on books. Their rich stories keep us hooked not wanting them to end, this is what makes them so engaging and perfect for adapting to the stage. So with World Book day just around the corner (2nd March) we celebrate some of our favourite shows based on novels;
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo (1862)
Starting with the West Ends longest running musical (32 years!) and joint winner of this year’s What’s On Stage’s ‘Best West End Show’ award. Les Miserables is based on Victor Hugo’s much older 1962 epic of the same name which plot, like the musical, follows Jean Valjean’s quest for redemption through revolutionary France.
If you haven’t already “heard the people sing” this fantastic story about the barricade, join the fight and get tickets here…
Matilda, Roald Dahl (1988)
Similar to Les Miserable, Matilda, has strived in its many mediums, from Tim Minchin’s and the RSC’s fantastic musical to the much loved 1996 film starring and directed by Danny DeVito (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) but the superb story originally derives from the 1988 novel by much celebrated children’s author Roald Dahl. Dahl is the father to many other stories that have graced the London stage such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr Fox.
Witness the genius of Roald Dahl, Tim Minchin and the RSC with Matilda The Musical. Our Exclusive Family of 4 Ticket is returning for Tuesday to Thursday performances from until 13th March 2017
Woman In Black, Susan Hill (1983)
The chilling Woman in Black has frightened many an audience on the West End over the past 25 years. It even ventured to the silver screen in the form of the 2012 film adaptation starring the enchanting Daniel Radcliffe which led to a 2014 sequel, Woman in Black II: Angel of death, expanding Susan Hill’s Woman In Black mythos. Hill’s gothic novel however sticks to a more traditional narrative compared to Stephen Mallatratts’s ingenious meta stage adaptation focusing on lead character Arthur Kipps who relives his encounter with the horrific Woman in Black.
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame (1908)
Mole, Rat, Badger and the illustrious Toad of Toad Hall have been in our hearts since Kenneth Grahame’s book, originally published in June 1908. It was in its 31st printing when A.A. Milne finally adapted Willows for stage in 1929 and then it took a whopping 95 years after its original inception in 2003 to be adapted into a musical by Julian Fellows.
The Wind in the Willows has had many incarnations over the years including in Monty Python and Disney’s 1996 film of the same name and has even had various animated retellings such as our favourite, the 1983 stop motion and BAFTA award-winning reworking.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L.Frank Baum’s (1900) / Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1996)
Wicked, the only show on this list that is an adaptation of a book which is an adaption of another book, the recent joint winner of What’s On Stage’s ‘Best West End Show’ alongside the aforementioned Les Miserables was re-penned for the stage by Grammy and Academy award winner Stephen Schwartz. Based on Gregory Maguire’s ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ (1996) which in turn was a reimagining of the characters The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the good from L. Frank Baum’s beloved 1900’s ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. Fun fact: He named the character Elphaba as a play on the author’s name (L – El Frank – Pha Baum – Ba) name.
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