Musicals That Need to Be Adapted Into Movies



Musicals and theatre have a long history in the movie world. Silent films began to lessen in the 1930s, and as talkies became more popular, it seemed only natural Broadway musicals would be adapted for cinema. 1930s Hollywood was absolutely in love with musicals. During this time, choreographer Busby Berkeley created showgirl line dances, and musical films like The Wizard of Oz were released. Since then, movies like La La Land, based on an original script, and the Broadway musical Singin’ in the Rain have graced the big screen.

Nowadays, Hollywood loves to adapt scripts already made, whether novels or Broadway plays. Audiences saw fan favorites like West Side Story, In the Heights, and Dear Evan Hansen adapted into movies with varying degrees of success. Some Broadway shows are also inspired by cinema. Indeed, Disney shows and Moulin Rouge! have their roots in the movies. 2023 is about to see the Off-Broadway musical Dicks hit the big screen, and the musical version of The Color Purple will hit theaters in December. With new musicals and talent produced each year, there are still some shows that need to be adapted for movies. Here are some of the best musicals that need a movie adaptation.

10 Six

The musical Six

Six has been taking the musical world by storm ever since it debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world. Six reclaims the stories of King Henry VIII’s six wives, but with a twist: it’s presented in the form of a pop concert. The musical has been professionally picked up by West End and Broadway, drawing in large audiences for a tale actively rewriting the history of these women.

Each queen takes a turn telling her story; their ultimate goal is to compete to see who was treated the worst by their husband. Each queen has inspiration within a contemporary pop singer, thus dictating their style and presentation. As a film, Six adds nuance to history and depictions of women.

9 The Book of Mormon

The Cast of The Book of Mormon the Musical
Scott Rudin Productions

Co-created by the genius minds that brought the world South Park, the religious satire musical The Book of Mormon centers on two Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionaries who set out to spread the message of their faith to the people of Uganda and convert them to the Mormon religion. The overly-eager Elder Price and his socially awkward companion Elder Cunningham quickly discover how difficult this task may be, as the citizens of the village are more busy dealing with major issues like HIV/AIDS, poverty, famine, and violence.

The Book of Mormon originally starred Frozen‘s Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells (who should definitely reprise their roles for a potential film) and was a smash hit during its premiere run on Broadway in 2011, winning a whopping nine Tony Awards as well as a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. It has since gone on to make over $700 million and is both one of the longest-running and most financially successful Broadway shows of all time.

8 Spring Awakening

Lea Michelle and Jonathan Groff in Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known
HBO Documentary Films

Based on the classic Frank Wedekind play of the same name, the coming-of-age rock musical Spring Awakening chronicles the blossoming romance between two angsty teenagers in 1891 Germany as they explore their sexuality and attempt to navigate the many anxieties and hurdles that come with transitioning from an adolescent to an adult. Young lovers Wendla and Melchior find their lives completely transformed when they reconnect and fall in love, professing their thoughts and feelings via an exhilarating pop-rock score.

Related: Best Musical Movie Adaptations

Spring Awakening does a phenomenal job of capturing the awkwardness and anxiety that come with growing up while also exploring self-discovery, and a film version would be poignant and refreshing to see. The musical won eight Tony Awards during its original run, and a big-screen adaptation has been entertained over the years, though nothing has yet to come from it.

7 Jagged Little Pill

Jagged Little Pill
Matthew Murphy

Jagged Little Pill is a musical that has it all. Set to music by Alanis Morissette, it delves into the life of an idyllic suburban family. On the surface, all seems perfect: the mother and father’s relationship is going smoothly, he just got a promotion, their eldest son is planning to go to Harvard, and their daughter Frankie makes beautiful art. But outside of this perfect image, everything is going wrong. No one in the family is happy and is suffering through their unique trauma, addiction, and identity issues, yet none want to acknowledge that something is amiss. The musical offers musings on pain, healing, and empowerment, making it a solid choice for a film.

6 Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Universal Pictures Limited 

Famed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice joined forces to create the enduring sung-through musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, inspired by the Biblical figure from the Book of Genesis that tells the story of Joseph as he is sold into slavery and eventually becomes the second-in-command to the Pharaoh after facing unfathomable hardships and adversity. Donny Osmond starred in the direct-to-video stage version of the musical, but a proper feature-length film would dazzle audiences with its breathtaking visuals, lively soundtrack, and intriguing story.

5 Next to Normal

Next to Normal

Next to Normal is a musical about mental health and how it affects an entire family; the matriarch of the family, the main character, suffers from worsening bipolar disorder. The medication she’s taking isn’t helping her; she no longer feels anything, whether it’s joy or pain. They’re also causing physical side effects, which impair her ability to function in her everyday life. The impacts of her illness begin to impact the family as a whole, leading to the main conflicts in the musical. Next to Normal won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and, a decade later, the themes and messages are still relevant today.

4 Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde
The Cultural Critic 

Fans of the Gothic horror genre flocked to the theaters to witness Robert Louis Stevenson’s iconic novella on stage with Jekyll & Hyde, which is jam-packed full of chaos, murder, and mayhem and depicts the epic internal struggle between the brilliant doctor and unhinged madman after a scientific experiment goes horrifically awry.

Related: Mads Mikkelsen’s 15 Best Movies, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

While David Hasselhoff did portray the legendary literary character in a 2001 made-for-TV film, fans of both the musical and the story itself deserve a proper Hollywood adaptation, and there is no denying the musical would make a phenomenal monster movie that would definitely deliver on the thrills and chills.

3 Caroline, or Change

Caroline, or Change
Broadway Direct 

First workshopped in 1992, Caroline, or Change revived on Broadway after seventeen years. In 1963, a Black Louisiana maid named Caroline works for a white Jewish family. Caroline is older and has four kids of her own, but she has been a maid for twenty-two years because that’s all she can do. The show offers a glimpse into the life of a working-class Black woman who only wants to provide a different life to her kids than the one she had, and thus she accepts the situations she’s in as a necessity for survival. Caroline, or Change offers a critical perspective often not found in mainstream media and theatre, so to adapt it with film with more Black creatives involved would bring an unseen slice of history forward.

2 Hadestown

North Country Public Radio 

When Hadestown appeared on Broadway in 2019, it stole the people’s hearts. The lyrics of Hadestown were written by Anaïs Mitchell. The original version of the musical debuted in Vermont and Massachusetts in 2007. Since then, it climbed to reach the Theatre District of New York City and consistently impresses. It retells the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a musical format while interweaving the romantic love story of Persephone and Hades. Set in the 1930s with a steampunk-style New Orleans, the gritty tones of the musical bring life a classic myth and love story that would be magical in a movie


1 Hamilton


Hamilton was the biggest musical release of the decade. Lin Manuel Miranda’s reimagined tale about the life and exploits of Alexander Hamilton completely changed the presentation of live theatre musicals. Incorporating rap-based and people of color in casting shook the Broadway and theatre world by storm, creating a legacy that rewrites what America was and can be. If Hamilton is adapted, it would be a tour de force, something grand if done properly. With war, romance, and a story about rising from the bottom of society, it has something for everyone.

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