Guys, I love Broadway. I completely missed my calling singing under the bright lights. What was I thinking, choosing band over choir and theater? *le sigh*
Unsurprisingly, many of my favorite musicals are based on books. Are you shocked? I know you’re shocked. So just in case you’re looking for something to listen to or something to read or BOTH, here are some of my favorite musicals based on novels.
Yes, novels. No, I’m not including Hamilton. Sorry, we can talk about that masterpiece another time.
5. West Side Story
It’s no secret that I love Romeo and Juliet, and West Side Story is just as powerful, if not more so. My bookish friends might not realize that I am a huge Leonard Bernstein fan. I thought about including Candide in this list, just to show off, but it’s really more of an opera, and who am I kidding? I just love the overture. (band nerd!) The amazing thing about West Side Story is that it is STILL so relevant! The racism, the gang violence, the music! If you’ve never watched the movie I highly recommend it, though be ready for some white people portraying POC.
4. The Phantom of the Opera
While I can’t stand the book, leaving Phantom off this list would have been a CRIME. I’ll be honest, I first fell in love with Phantom when the movie came out. What can I say, I was a high schooler, it was my first exposure! While I appreciate the direction the movie went with the music, I will never get over the way Andrew Lloyd Weber continues to get people to sit through a literal opera. If you think you hate opera, that it’s boring and the singing is annoying, you are WRONG! Go watch Phantom.
3. Les Miserables
Be still my heart! I love everything about Les Mis! I love the book as well, but I think the musical does an excellent job of paring down the text while still remaining true. You get less of the character backgrounds, but the development is all still there. And the MUSIC! It gets stuck in my head for days! I will be singing On My Own at the top of my lungs in the car until the day I die.
2. Jekyll and Hyde
I bet you didn’t know there was a Jekyll and Hyde musical! You’re missing out. It’s not a particularly faithful adaptation, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is more of a short story than a novel, so the musical-makers had to add a lot. But I loved that they included strong women in the story (a must for Broadway) and I love love love the music. You try adding harpsichord to your pit orchestra and making it sound amazing!