Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where Bookishness and Thespianism Collide

It all started off as a discussion of what movies would make the best musicals, the topic then moved to movies would make the worst musicals (Star Wars the Musical anyone?). Then of course, being bookishly inclined I started thinking of what books would make good musicals.

I'll warn you right now, I am an English Major and one of my minors is Theatre, so this entire post with be a theatre/book geek fest. Just so you know and are fairly warned ahead of time.

This was originally going to be a Top Ten Tuesday, until I realized (i. e. I was told) that not many people are as geeky as I am in this respect and it would make a difficult list for others to duplicate. (We will, however, be doing a Top Ten Tuesday about books that SHOULD be movies).

We already know there are several books that have been made into successful musicals, Wicked for example. It made an excellent musical. (In my opinion anyway, but it happens to be my favorite musical. When I finally got to see it performed, I started crying when I heard the opening song.... I digress.) The Secret Garden has also been made into a musical, I'd venture to say it's better than both the book and the movie.

Here are a few of the books I thought might make a good musical.

The Outsiders- If this was done properly, it could be very powerful. I'm thinking a rock type of music. Something similar to West Side Story, without the cheesy dance-fight. (Which I'll admit, is kinda cool. But I'm a geek like that.)

Tuck Everlasting- Loved this book. The movie was good too, though. The style and storyline of the book already feel like a musical, minus the music. I really think that a great musical score could emphasize the magic and the story and give more depth to the characters if they were given the right songs to perform.

Pride and Prejudice
- This has already been turned into a musical-- twice. Both of them flopped. I still hope to see this as a successful musical I think it could be great!

Secret Life of Bees- I think this would make a powerful musical. Maybe something similar to The Color Purple?

Anne of Green Gables
- (This has already been done as well, but badly.) Love the books and I love the first two parts of the TV version. Can't you just picture this as a musical? Imagine Rachel Lynde with some kind of song that shows off her rather prickly personality and her way of knowing everything that happens? Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more. Oops. Wrong musical.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy- This is such a wacky novel, why not turn it into a musical? I think it would be hilarious. Something similar to Monty Python's Spamalot.

To Kill a Mocking Bird - I could see this being incredibly powerful if it was well done. Something similar to Les Miserable.

Memoirs of a Geisha I could see this being not only very powerful, but beautiful. The imagery in the book was gorgeous, can you imagine how wonderful it would look on stage? Pair that with an great score and you've got yourself a pretty amazing musical.

So those are just a few books I thought would make good musicals, I also thought of a few that would make terrible musicals.

Such as...

The Hunger Games- It would be terrible! I mean, really, could you see any of these characters suddenly bursting into song?

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
- Do I really have to say anything? It would be... well bad. Just bad.

The Abhorson Trilogy- Those who have read it will understand.

Anything by John Grisham.

Ender's Game- Uh, it's not going to happen. Not only would the weightlessness for most of the novel be difficult to replicate on stage, I just can't imagine the characters singing. Ever.

Any book by Steinbeck.

So those are just a few of my ideas. It gives you a glimpse into how my mind works (which might have been a frightening experience for some). When I read a novel I think would work as a musical I immediately switch into actor/director mode. I can see how I'd lay out the stage, the type of music I'd want, how I'd block (block meaning the movements the actors make) the scenes, the costumes, everything.

So what about you? Any books you think would be great musicals? Or have a few in mind that would be terrible?

Tell me what you think!


  1. I have a couple, although they are kind of 'musical' books to begin with:

    I just read a YA book - Will Grayson Will Grayson, and the finale is a musical!

    Bel Canto by Ann Patchet will be awesome too, but it maybe melodramatic.

    Love this post so much!!

  2. I think one of Terry Pratchett Discworld novels done in Spamalot's tongue-in-cheek musical style would be worth seeing.

  3. They're making a musical out of American Psycho, which sounds to me about the worst idea ever! So... much... bleeding...

  4. I could definitely see The Outsiders as a musical! And I would probably say no to anything by Stephen King - I would have a hard time being freaked out if murderers bursted into song mid-killing.

  5. OMG, I can't imagine Katniss breaking out in song while running for her life or shooting something, that would be horrible!
    I think Vampire Academy would also make a horrible musical.
    I think you're right about Memoirs of a Geisha, that would be beautiful!

  6. LOLLLLL at the idea of the Hunger Games being a musical. That would totally ruin it.

    I definitely see potential for P&P - I saw it performed as a play and really enjoyed it, and of course the Bollywood version (Bride & Prejudice) has already been made.

    I also remember seeing Anne of Green Gables performed and really enjoying it, but that was many years ago when I was a kid...not sure what I would think if I saw it again now!

  7. I once saw a Romeo and Juliet musical in Britain that I think was only open two weeks. It was pretty terrible. I think there were roller skates involved too....

  8. This was a good list, both for the good and the bad. I would have loved to have seen A Secret Garden.

    I know I'm a broken record when it comes to Charles De Lint, but I think many of his books would make beautiful musicals. His books are filled with fairies, art and music anyway.

  9. This list cracks me up. Did you know that Jane Eyre and The Scarlet Pimpernel have both been made into musicals?

    I agree that The Hunger Games would be terrible as a musical. It's just too grim. I can't immediately think of any books I'd turn into musicals, though.

  10. I love this post!

    I think the Outsiders would make a great West Side Story-esque musical (complete with cheesy fighting!)and while I could never picture how it would be done, I would absolutely go for a Hitchhiker's musical.

    I'd like to see an Ender's Game musical, if only because of the ridiculousness it would be. I like my mental image of the buggers singing...

  11. I think I disagree about the bad book-to-musical possibilities. ANY story could make a good musical if it can be put on the stage in the first place, in my opinion. It really just depends on the music and the abilities of the actors. I was actually in a musical version of Jekyll and Hyde, but that was wildly different from the novella. But I still really like it, because I love the music. That's really what does it for me.

    And The Secret Garden's soundtrack is great. I own it. :)

  12. My comment was eaten... :(

    I only really had two points.
    1)I'd LOVE to see someone perform The Scarlet Pimpernell. I love the music!

    2)WHen I tried to think of good book musicals, I immediately thought of A Very Potter Musical which is made of so much win. The music is so catchy!

  13. What a great concept. I would love to see Tuck Everlasting and To Kill a Mockingbird as musicals. I'm not sure which books would be good musicals, but I kinda of think Eat, Pray, Love might be an interesting one ;)

  14. The whole time I was reading this post I was thinking what a terrible musical that Harry Potter would make, but it's just popular enough that I'm sure producers every where have spent years salivating over that idea.

    Then when I saw Julia's link I was like, "Please, no!" But it does make a good joke.

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  17. Dracula, the Musical?

    I can see the fiend bursting out into song as he pauses at her, but amusing to think of.

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  20. Actually, I'm pretty sure Dracula is a musical. Isn't it?

  21. So sorry for the multiple posts, my internet explorer just went haywire on me, and for some odd reason, it posted several times. I'm at a loss. Sorry!

  22. The idea of a Hunger Games musical just makes me giggle...from now on whenever I am feeling down I might just imagine Katniss dancing around with a bow and possibly a dead animal...there I go giggling again...
    Seriously though it would be terrible and completely defeat the point of the book. It is definitely something the Capitol would approve of which makes it all around bad.

  23. BookQuoter- I'll have to check that book out! And thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the post!! :)

    Holly- Hmmm... I like that idea!

    Laura- Seriously?? Um, wow. That will be... interesting.

    Short Story- haha, ya. I don't think Stephen King's stuff is exactly musical material.

    Daisy- I know huh? It would be so beautiful!

    Danya- You saw Anne of Green Gables? I wonder what adult audiences thought of it?

    Erin- Um... Wow. Romeo and Juliet the musical with roller skates. Makes me shudder a bit. It lasted two weeks? lol

    Midnyte- I've never heard of Charles De Lint, I'll have to check out his works!

    Liz- Yes, I did know that! I didn't particularly care for Jane Eyre (the musical at least, loved the book) but the Scarlet Pimpernel is one of my favorites!

    Red- Thank you! And the image of singing buggers... LOL. Now I want to see that!

    Tahleen- That's a good point. Jekyll and Hyde is a brilliant musical, amazing music. And, yay, more love the The Secret Garden!

    Julia- I really want to see it performed too! When I first bought the CD that's all I listened to for about a month. And the Very Potter Musical, lol. I've been hearing about that for years now.

    Jayme- Eat Pray Love would be interesting to see!

    French Lily- You're right. I'll bet there are already scripts out there for it, hopefully hidden away so no one sees them. :D

    Jenny O and Tahleen, yup. it's a musical. Didn't run for very long though.

    Anna- LOL. I now have an image of a dancing Katniss. Now I'm laughing. And it's so true about the Capitol approving of it. A dancing Katniss... *snicker


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