concord-theatricals-2019-1200-sq.png

Established in 2012, our online magazine is for those who make theatre happen.


U.S. Social


U.K. Social

27 Plays & Musicals for Book Lovers

27 Plays & Musicals for Book Lovers

From A Tale of Two Cities to The Phantom of the Opera to Fun Home, literary adaptations are a proud theatrical tradition. Celebrate this Book Lovers Day with a list of 25 Concord Theatricals titles sure to pique the interest of any book worm.

  1. Anne of Green Gables Adaptations (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    The Anne of Green Gables book series was written by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, with the first book published in 1908. Written for all ages, Anne of Green Gables is considered a classic of 20th century children’s literature.

    The Story:
    Anne of Green Gables
    chronicles the story of Anne Shirley, an orphan girl who is sent to live with two middle-age siblings who thought they were adopting a boy to work on their farm, Green Gables. We follow her adventures as she works her way into the hearts of the Cuthberts, and the small community of Avonlea.

    The Play(s):
    The book series began receiving film adaptations as early as 1919, and has several stage adaptations including Anne of Green Gables and Anne & Gilbert. You can view all of the adaptations here.

  2. American Psycho (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis initially caused some controversy within the literary world upon its paperback release in 1991. The idea of the “designer serial-killer” was deemed to salacious for most readers. In Germany, the book was declared as “harmful to minors,” and was distributed in shrink-wrap in Australia. While society was not yet ready accept American Psycho as a commentary, rather than a celebration, of the sexist, violent world of Wall Street, Patrick Bateman was soon to get a makeover in the 2000 film adaptation starring Christian Bale.

    The Story:
    American Psycho follows 26-year-old investment banker, Patrick Bateman, during the Wall Street boom of the 1980s. Obsessed with his looks and power, Bateman masquerades as a yuppy but hides his darker desires. While he and his friends party at the most exclusive clubs and eat at the best restaurants, Bateman’s mask of sanity begins to slip after killing his colleague, Paul Owen.

    The Musical:
    The musical adaptation of American Psycho came to Broadway in 2016, after its 2013 world premiere at London’s Almeida Theatre. With music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik and a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the musical was hailed as “so smooth, so rich, so ruthless. A carnal carnival of song and dance” by The New York Times. You can check out the musical here.

  3. Baker Street (Tams-Witmark)

    The Book:
    The stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are some of the most lasting pieces of fiction of the 19th century. All set between 1880 and 1914, the first Sherlock Holmes story appeared in print in 1887. Mostly narrated by his friend and partner, Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes solves four novels and 56 short stories- worth of mysteries from his residence at 221B Baker Street.

    The Story:
    The musical Baker Street is a combination of three Sherlock stories: “The Final Problem,” “The Empty House,” and “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Set during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, Sherlock and Watson must solve a heinous crime involving murder, jewel theft, deception, explosives, and — worst of all — show business.

    The Musical:
    With book by Jerome Coopersmith and music and lyrics by Marian Grudeff and Raymond Jessel, this 1960s musical made its way to Broadway under the direction of the legendary Harold (Hal) Prince. It featured such hits as “Leave It To Us, Guv,” “What A Night This Is Going To Be,” and “I’d Do It Again.” Click here to check out the show.

  4. Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    The Hound of the Baskervilles is the third of four Sherlock Holmes novels, and one of the most beloved. Like many novels of the time, it was originally serialized in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902 before it was later compiled into a complete book.

    The Story:
    Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson return again, this time to the moors of Devonshire to investigate a murder with supernatural origins. Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead on his estate, attributed to a heart attack. But the look of sheer terror on Sir Baskerville’s face leads the locals to believe that he was the victim of a demonic hound that stalks the moors. Sherlock dismisses the legend as he investigates despite the howling in the night and the strange sightings in the hills.

    The Play:
    Master of comedy, Ken Ludwig, is the latest to adapt this classic story. Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery is a murderously funny adventure. The male heirs of the Baskerville line are being dispatched one by one. To find their ingenious killer, Holmes and Watson must brave the desolate moors before a family curse dooms its newest heir. Watch as our intrepid investigators try to escape a dizzying web of clues, silly accents, disguises, and deceit as five actors deftly portray more than forty characters. Does a wild hellhound prowl the moors of Devonshire? Can our heroes discover the truth in time? Join the fun and see how far from elementary the truth can be. Check out the hilarious play here.

  5. Be More Chill (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    The 2004 YA novel Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini is a first-person tale about high school student Jeremy Heere who swallows a pill-sized super computer called the SQUIP. Vizzini had a short but prolific career before he passed away at the age of 32. His novels to this day help his readers cope with mental illness and Be More Chill became a viral sensation after the musical of the same name premiered in 2015.

    The Story:
    Jeremy Heere hasn’t had the easiest time in high school. Considered a “loser” by the popular students and a frequent victim of bullying, more than anything, Jeremy wants to go out with drama-club member Christine. But realizing that he needs to get cool before she will even notice him, Jeremey swallows a pill called The SQUIP which will instantly make him cooler. But what will happen when he finally has to perform in the play?


    The Musical:
    The 2015 musical sensation Be More Chill was skyrocketed from Two River Theater all the way to Broadway thanks to the throngs of young fans that supported the show’s progress. The musical with music and lyrics by Joe Iconis, and a book by Joe Tracz, features such fan-favorite hits as “I Love Play Rehearsal” and “Michael in the Bathroom.” Click here to explore more.

  6. Ben Hur (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ is an 1880 novel in eight parts by Lew Wallace. Considered one of the most influential Christian books of the 19th century, it was a best-selling book in the United States, even out-selling Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

    The Story:
    The story tells the adventures of the fictional Jewish prince, Judah Ben-Hur, who is enslaved by the Romans and becomes a charioteer and a Christian. His adventures progresses alongside the tale of Christ, and similarly to Jesus’ story, explores themes of betrayal, conviction, redemption, love, and compassion.

    The Play:
    The stage adaptation by Patrick Barlow condenses the epic tale so that it can be told by just four actors. The story follows an amateur theatre troupe as they produce the massive tale of the fictional Jewish prince and merchant Judah Ben-Hur. He falls to galley slave and rises to champion charioteer within Jerusalem during the life of Jesus Christ, while the actors struggle along through the piece as rivalries form and offstage romances interfere. Complete with chariot race, sea battle, and stage combat, Patrick Barlow weaves his compressed style popularized by The 39 Steps into one of the largest stories ever told. You can find out more here.

  7. By Jeeves (The Musical Company)

    The Book:
    ”Jeeves” is the name of a fictional valet in the popular comedic stories by P. G. Wodehouse. Jeeves is the quintessential competent and intelligent servant to the bumbling and idle aristocrat, in this case, Bertie Wooster. Jeeves and Bertie appear in 35 short stories and 11 novels by Wodehouse, first appearing in print in 1915.

    While the name “Jeeves” has become synonymous with butlers, a valet is responsible for an individual, while a butler is responsible for a household. However, the character of Jeeves is a compliment to butlers and valets both.

    The Story:
    Jeeves and Bertie get into many kinds of adventures, usually due to Bertie’s poor judgement. In the musical By Jeeves, Bertie Wooster’s banjo mysteriously disappears just as he is about to give a concert in a church hall, but his quick-witted and unflappable manservant Jeeves suggests that he entertain his audience by relating the hapless romantic misadventures of his circle of high-society London cronies. An impromptu theatrical extravaganza unfolds, with Jeeves serving as writer, composer, director and props master.


    The Musical:
    By Jeeves was originally going to be a musical by the power-duo Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. After Rice dropped out of the project, the incomparable Alan Acykbourn came on for book and lyrics. The short-lived West End premiere began in 1975, and later would be redone for the stage in 1996 which received three Olivier Award nominations. Put on your own Jeeves adventure here.

  8. Cabaret (Tams-Witmark)

    The Book:
    The Berlin Stories, a collection of two novellas by Christopher Isherwood Goodbye to Berlin and Mr. Norris Changes Trains was published in 1945, and is the basis for the Broadway hit Cabaret. Goodbye to Berlin (1939) in particular informed the musical, and is a semi-autobiographical, episodic story about Isherwood’s time in Weimar-era Berlin. Throughout the book, we meet the caring landlady, Fraulein Schroeder, the English cabaret performer Sally Bowles, Natalia Landauer the teenage, Jewish heiress, and Peter and Otto, a gay couple struggling to define their relationship as tensions grow within Germany. The novella would shine a spotlight on the groups who would be targets of the Nazi regime, and was described by George Orwell as "brilliant sketches of a society in decay.”

    The Story:
    Though Goodbye to Berlin and the many different versions of Cabaret have alternate plot points, the basic story is roughly the same: Cliff Bradshaw (Christopher Isherwood), an aspiring novelist, arrives in Berlin to take part in its thriving arts scene and complete his book. While writing, he meets the seductive and vivacious Sally Bowles, a cabaret performer. The two strike up a romance leading to an unintended pregnancy. Despite unclear paternity, Cliff is ready to marry her and raise the child, but Sally is not quite ready to be tied to parenthood. As Cliff leaves Berlin, the Nazis are on the rise, and we reflect on all the characters we have met who we know, in retrospection, will soon be victims of the violent white-supremacist dictatorship that would claim the lives of millions.

    The Musical:
    Cabaret originally premiered in 1966 and starred Joel Grey as the Emcee. It was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won eight including Best Musical. However, Cabaret would go on to include a few more revisions. Famously, the controversial lyric in “If You Could See Her Through My Eyes,” where the Emcee sings “If you could see her through my eyes/She wouldn’t look Jewish at all,” was added back in for the 1972 film starring Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles. The play was then revived and re-worked between London and New York in the years following, finally ending with the famous 1998 version which starred Alan Cumming as the Emcee. You can license the Original 1966 version, the revised 1987 version, and the 1998 version of Cabaret through Tams-Witmark.

  9. Cats (The Musical Company)

    The Book:
    When T.S. Eliot was not writing poems about the horrors of WWI, or the terror in the decision to eat a peach, he was writing about — yes — cats. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats is a whimsical collection of poems published in 1939 all about the particular personalities of our favorite feline friends. Written throughout the 1930s, “Old Possum” was the pen name Eliot assumed in letters to his godchildren. The poems would later be the lyrical basis for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash-hit Cats, though we have been singing about the Jellicle Ball since the 30s.

    The Story:
    Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats is a series of character pieces about some of our favorite cats like Mr. Mistoffelees, Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat, Old Deuteronomy, and Macavity: The Mystery Cat. For the sake of a more thorough narrative, in the musical Cats, the Jellicles gather for the Jellicle Ball where one cat will be voted upon to go to the “Heaviside Layer” and be reborn as a new cat. Each cat gets a moment to introduce themselves, shine a spotlight on their particular feline quirk, and perhaps state their case as to why they deserve to be reborn.

    The Musical:
    It is famously known that Andrew Lloyd Webber loves cats. Growing up, Lloyd Webber was very fond of not only his own cats, but of the Eliot poems themselves. He began composing music for the poems in 1977, but it wouldn’t be until 1981 when it would open on the West End, and then transfer to Broadway in 1982. Cats ran for 18 years on Broadway, a record that has only been beaten by Lloyd Webber’s own The Phantom of the Opera. With classic hits like “Memory” and “Jellicle Cats,” the musical is slated for release as a major motion picture in December, 2019. Get ready to believe by clicking here.

  10. Cinderella (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    ”Cinderella” is a timeless fairytale with countless versions, editions, and adaptations. However, one of the earliest and most popular versions came from a seventeenth century Frenchman named Charles Perrault who penned Cendrillon, ou la Petite Pantoufle de Verre (Cinderella, or The Little Slipper of Squirrel Fur) in 1697.

    The Story:
    Cinderella is a young woman forced to spend her days serving her cruel stepmother and vain stepsisters. Cinderella dream of a better life, and with the help of her Fairy Godmother, she is transformed into a princess. She is whisked away to the royal ball to meet the Prince, under the condition that she leaves at midnight when the magic will wear off. Though it’s love at first sight, Cinderella runs away from the ball leaving behind a glass slipper. The prince searches high and low for her, and when he slips the slipper back on her foot he knows he has found his true love, and the two live happily ever after.

    The Musical:
    Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella was the most widely viewed program in the history of television to date. Its recreation in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true, and so was a second remake in 1997 which starred Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother. Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella made its Broadway debut in 2013 with a new libretto by Douglas Carter Beane, and earned nine Tony nominations. To find out more, click here.

  11. Flower Drum Song (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    The Flower Drum Song is a best-selling novel by C.Y. Lee originally published in 1957. The book was rejected by a dozen major publishers until it was saved by an 80-year-old reader for Farrar, Straus and Cudahy who read it while on his sick bed, and simply wrote “read this” before passing away.

    The Story:
    In San Francisco’s Chinatown of the late 1950s, nightclub owner Sammy Fong’s traditional family has arranged a picture-bride for him from China in hopes that he will end his pursuit of a dancer. His bride, Mei Li arrives, shy and at sea in a world she doesn’t understand, she cannot seem to click with the assimilated Sammy. However, she may be perfect for Sammy’s friend, Wang-Ta, whose traditionalist father is fighting a losing battle with his kids against rock n’ roll, baseball, sports cars and the typical trapping of the modern American life-style. The story is part generational conflict and part bittersweet romance, with most everyone pairing up with their true love in the end.

    The Musical:
    Rodgers and Hammerstein’s stage adaptation Flower Drum Song was directed by the legendary actor and dancer, Gene Kelly. It made its Broadway debut on December 1, 1958 and ran for 600 performances over a year and a half. The film of Flower Drum Song was released by Universal in 1961 and garnered five Academy Award nominations. To view the original version of Flower Drum Song, click here. For the revival with an updated book by David Henry Hwang, click here.


  12. Fun Home (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was the first graphic novel by cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Bechdel rose to prominence with the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in which the famous media criteria “The Bechdel Test” was born. Fun Home is an autobiographical story about Bechdel’s closeted father and her relationship with him as she grew up and came to terms with her own identity as a lesbian. After its publication, it was a New York Times best-seller and a massive critical hit.

    The Story:
    Fun Home is a non-linear autobiography of Alison Bechdel and her family told in the wake of her father’s death. Alison’s mother was an actress, her brother her friend, and her father the unrelenting, strict patriarch obsessed with house restoration and books. Alison explores growing up as a gay woman in a house with a father who was closeted, and how sexuality and literature were her means of communication with him. The title derives from the family funeral home, lovingly called the “Fun Home” within the family circle. Fun Home is ultimately about seeing your parents for who they are as you grow up.

    The Musical:
    The musical Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron first premiered at The Public Theater in 2013 and transferred to Broadway later in 2014. A stunning adaptation hailed as “a rare beauty, extraordinary and heart-gripping” by The New York Times, the musical went on to win 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Fun Home also made history as the first musical to win Best Score and Best Book of a Musical by an all-female writing team. Find out more here.

  13. It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman (Tams-Witmark)

    The Book:
    Superman, the classic DC Comics series has been on going since the 1930s. The Man of Steel has gone through many iterations and series, including The Justice League comics, and countless films and television series. The sheer volume of Superman stories makes him a literary figure on the scale of King Arthur.

    The Story:
    As with other serialized characters, details and adventures may vary, but the basics are always the same: Superman was born on the planet Krypton and given the name Kal-El at birth. Before Krypton was destroyed, Kal-El’s parents sent him to Earth in a small spaceship, saving the young hero’s life. His ship lands in the fictional American town of Smallville, and is adopted by the farmers Johnathan and Martha Kent, who then name the baby Clark. As Clark grows up, he develops superhuman strength, impervious skin, and the ability to fly. His parents tell him his abilities should be used for the good of humanity, and Clark begins to fight crime and adopts the alias “Superman.” To protect his identity, he moves to the city of Metropolis, works as a journalist for The Daily Planet, and dons the clever disguise of wearing glasses. Superman in his adventures fights villains like Lex Luthor, pursues the heart of Lois Lane, and befriends other heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman.

    The Musical:
    The 1966 musical It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman is a campy, dynamic, and larger than life spectacle that explores America’s favorite superhero in a new way. When Nobel-Prize losing scientist Dr. Abner Sedgwick declares revenge on the world for dismissing his genius, only one man can stop him: Superman. Meanwhile, Daily Planet writer Lois Lane struggles to make sense of her rocky romance with the superhero, and Lois’ ambitious coworker Max vows to make a name for himself by unveiling the Man of Steel’s secret identity. Can Superman save the day again? With music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams, and book by David Newman and Robert Benton, the original production was directed by Hal Prince and went on to receive three Tony nominations. Go on your own adventure by clicking here.

  14. The King and I (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    Anna and the King of Siam is a semi-fictionalized biographical novel published in 1994 by Margaret Landon. The novel is based on The English Governess of the Siamese Court and Romance of the Harem, two memoirs of a young widow, mother, and Englishwoman, Anna Leonowens.

    The Story:
    It is 1862 in Siam and Anna Leonowens and her young son arrive at the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Anna has been summoned by the King to serve as a tutor to his many children and wives. In order to do more business with the West, the King seeks Anna’s guidance to change his image, if not his ways. With both keeping a firm grip on their respective traditions and values, Anna and the King grow to understand, and eventually respect one another.

    The Musical:
    The idea for the stage adaptation was originally brought to Rodgers and Hammerstein by leading lady, Gertrude Lawrence, after she saw the film Anna and the King of Siam. She went on to star in the original Broadway production which opened in 1951 and ran for three years and 1,246 performances, winning five Tony Awards including Best Musical. Twentieth Century Fox would release the motion picture of The King and I in 1956. For more, click here.

  15. The Light in the Piazza (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    The Light in the Piazza was originally a 1960 novella by Elizabeth Spencer. The tale of mother-daughter tension inspired several adaptations, including the 2005 Broadway musical.

    The Story:
    It’s the summer of 1953, and Margaret Johnson is on vacation in the Tuscan countryside with her twenty-six-year-old daughter, Clara. While sight-seeing, Clara meets the handsome Fabrizio and quickly begins a whirlwind romance with him. But Margaret, extremely protective of her daughter, attempts to keep Clara and Fabrizio apart, not only because of their cultural differences but because of a family secret that would be revealed: Clara is not quite all that she appears. Considering whether to inform Fabrizio and his family of the truth about Clara, Margaret realizes that it could possibly spoil her daughter’s one true chance for happiness.

    The Musical:
    Opening in April 2005, The Light in the Piazza was a critical success for writers Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel. Originally starring Kelli O’Hara as Clara, the musical garnered 11 Tony award nominations, and walked away with six. Find out more about this beautiful musical here.

  16. Man of La Mancha (Tams-Witmark)

    The Book:
    El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha or simply, Don Quixote is a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes published in two parts between 1605 and 1615. Considered the most influential book of the Spanish Golden Age, it is often labeled as the first “modern novel.”

    The Story:
    Alonso Quixote is a Spanish noble from La Mancha who reads so many chivalric romances he decides to become a knight-errant to revive chivalry. With his squire Sancho, they roam the countryside seeking adventure and glory.

    The Musical:
    One of the most successful musicals of all time, Man of La Mancha frames the Don Quixote adventure within the Spanish Inquisition. The author, Miguel de Cervantes, sits in prison awaiting trial. When his fellow prisoners set up a mock-trial, Cervantes presents his defense as a play: the story of Don Quixote. We are then transported to Quixote’s adventures, beginning with the rousing “Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote).” The celebrated score by Mitch Leigh features lyrics by Joe Darion and book by Dale Wasserman. Man of La Mancha was nominated for seven Tony Awards in 1966 and walked away with five including Best Musical. Check out more by clicking here.

  17. Marvel Spotlight Plays (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    Squirrel Girl, Thor and Ms. Marvel are all serialized properties within the Marvel Universe. Thor is the eldest of the three, telling the adventures of the mythical Norse god who happens to live on a planet called Asgard began in 1962. Squirrel Girl began in 1991 about heroine Doreen Green with the ability to talk to squirrels. If you thought that would be too silly to be a real superpower, the ability to talk to squirrels proves to be an effective tool against super-villains. Lastly is Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel as of 2014 (though the Ms. Marvel series had been going with Carol Danvers since the 1960s). Kamala Khan has been regarded as Jersey City’s Peter Parker. The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, Kamala happens upon her shape-shifting powers when she falls into a mysterious mist. In the aftermath of her origin, she assumes the mantle of Ms. Marvel after her hero, Carol Danvers, becomes Captain Marvel.

    The Story:
    Serialized stories are as old as literature itself, and Thor, Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel have a myriad of epic adventures. But the Marvel Spotlight Plays are a little different. They are stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

    Squirrel Girl Goes to College: A Squirrel Girl Play: Doreen arrives at Empire State University to make new friends – and protect them from super villains – by keeping her super hero identity a secret. But when a beloved computer science professor suddenly disappears, can Doreen trust her friends with her inner squirrel so she can save the day?

    Hammered: A Thor & Loki Play: As Thor struggles with the stress of final exams, his brother Loki finds himself under a different sort of pressure. Neither are beneath pranks in the endless competition for their parents’ favor. But underneath all the thunder and mischief, these two Princes of Asgard discover a bond that will last millennia.

    Mirror of Most Value: A Ms. Marvel Play: Kamala attempts to boost Ms. Marvel’s fledgling super hero profile by writing her own fan fiction. But when building a fandom becomes an obsession, Kamala’s schoolwork and relationships begin to suffer. To become the Jersey City hero of her dreams, Kamala must learn to accept herself just as she is – imperfections and all.

    The Play:
    The three new plays were a joint creation between Marvel and Concord Theatricals in 2019. The Marvel Spotlight Plays are an all-new way to experience some of the greatest heroes ever! A series of plays developed for teenagers, Marvel Spotlight explores the humans behind your favorite Super Heroes as they balance mastering their newfound powers while facing the real-world challenges of young adults. Marvel tells the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The plays premiered at International Thespians in Lincoln Nebraska to great acclaim. Find out more at marvelspotlightplays.com.

  18. Murder on the Orient Express (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    Murder on the Orient Express is a mystery novel starring Hercule Poirot by the queen of who-done-its, Agatha Christie. The novel originally appeared in print in 1934 to great critical acclaim. One reviewer even said that the crime would have been perfect had not the incomparable Poirot been aboard. Murder on the Orient Express is perhaps Christie’s most well-known story, boasting numerous television, radio, and film adaptations, and — of course— the stage adaptation by Ken Ludwig.

    The Story:
    Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

    The Play:
    Ken Ludwig tackles yet another classic, this time with Agatha Christie’s famous mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. The stage version premiered at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ in 2017 to great acclaim. Even on stage, Murder on the Orient Express is just as thrilling as it is on the page. Find out more here.

  19. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is a Russian epic about the Napoleonic invasion, and considered one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time. War and Peace centers around five aristocratic families and the effect the war had on Tsarist society. The book was originally serialized in The Russian Messenger from 1865 to 1867, and published in its entirety in 1869. A complicated work of literature, it revolutionized the modern novel packing more human experience into a work of fiction than ever before attempted.

    The Story:
    While the entirety of War and Peace covers plots encompassing five total families, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 centers around a particularly salacious slice of the novel. Young and impulsive Natasha Rostova arrives in Moscow to await the return of her fiancé from the front lines. When she falls under the spell of the roguish Anatole, it is up to Pierre, a family friend in the middle of an existential crisis, to pick up the pieces of her shattered reputation.

    The Musical:
    Dave Malloy’s musical, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 began its life at Ars Nova in 2012. Set in an actual circus tent, audience members of the original downtown run were seated at tables, given vodka and oysters, and transported into an immersive contemporary musical about scandal, love, and kindness. The musical transferred to Broadway in 2016, starred Josh Groban as Pierre, and was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. Check out more here.

  20. The Phantom of the Opera (The Musical Company)

    The Book:
    Le Fantôme de l'Opéra is a novel by Gaston Leroux, originally serialized in Le Gaulois from 1909 to 1910. The classic Gothic horror was inspired by rumors Leroux had heard from the Paris Opera. Though the underground lake beneath the Palais Garnier is real, the rumors of the Phantom himself are so blurred between the book and history, no one is sure what started where. All that is certain is, as Leroux said on both his deathbed and in his prologue, he believed the “Opera ghost really existed.”

    The Story:
    Christine Daaé, the daughter of a famous violin player, is an orphan and a ballet dancer at the Paris Opera. Her father’s dying promise was the send an angel of music to watch over her, a promise that seems to be true as every night Christine is visited by a mysterious man who teaches her to sing beautifully. All is well until Christine’s childhood friend Raoul arrives, and quickly begins to court her. In his jealously, the Phantom kidnaps Christine and brings her to his underground labyrinth where he composes brilliant, but otherworldly music. Though he loves Christine, the masked figure exercises a reign of terror over all who inhabit the Paris Opera House.

    The Musical:
    Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful pieces of entertainment of all time, produced in any media. Directed by Hal Prince, with sets and costumes by Maria Björnson and starring Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, Phantom opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre on October 9, 1986, where it continues to captivate audiences after 30 years and more than 12,000 performances. The Broadway transfer officially opened at the Majestic Theatre on January 26, 1988, where it remains to this day. It is the longest-running show on the Great White Way in history.

    Phantom won the 1986 Olivier and 1988 Tony Awards for Best Musical, with Michael Crawford taking home Best Actor in a Musical at both ceremonies. The show has played to over 140 million people in 35 countries in 166 cities around the world, winning over 70 major theatre awards, grossing an estimated $6 billion. The original cast recording was the first in British musical history to enter the charts at number one and worldwide album sales now exceed 40 million. A 2004 film adaptation, helmed by Joel Schumacher and starring Gerard Butler in the title role, Emmy Rossum as Christine Daaé and Patrick Wilson as Raoul, grossed $154 million worldwide. Click here for even more.

  21. The Secret Garden (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was first published in book form in 1911 following its serialization in 1910. Considered a classic of English children’s literature, it is one of Burnett’s most popular novels, and has garnered several stage and film adaptations.

    The Story:
    Orphaned in India, 11 year-old Mary Lennox returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies and the "Dreamers", spirits from Mary's past who guide her through her new life, dramatizing The Secret Garden's compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal.

    The Play(s):
    As stated above, The Secret Garden has had several stage adaptations created over the years. One of the most well-known is the 1991 musical by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon. The Broadway musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards and walked away with three, including Best Book of a Musical. The 1991 hit show gave us such classic songs as “Lily’s Eyes” and continues to be a popular title with professional and amateur groups alike. Click here for even more.

  22. Show Boat (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    Edna Ferber published the novel Show Boat in 1926. The novel was inspired after a lukewarm reception of an out-of-town tryout of Ferber’s play Minick (co-written with George S. Kauffman), the show’s producers quipped that they would be better off renting an old-fashioned showboat and performing in small towns along the river. Ferber took this quip and began researching the history of showboats and the people who lived and worked on them, eventually spending several days on the family-operated showboat, the James Adams Floating Theater.

    The Story:
    Taking place between 1880 and 1927, the story follows the lives, loves, and heartbreaks of three generations of show-folk as they go from Mississippi, Chicago, and on to Broadway. The primary plot revolves around Magnolia, the naive daughter of the showboat captain, as she marries a gambler and moves with him to Chicago. His gambling continues landing the couple in heaps of debt, and soon he deserts Magnolia and their young daughter. Meanwhile, Magnolia’s best friend, Julie, is arrested on charges related to interracial marriage, and she is sent into a downward spiral of despair. The passing of time reunites Magnolia and her now-grown daughter with their family on the showboat as well as with Magnolia’s husband who returns to offer a hopeful second change at familial fulfillment.

    The Musical:
    No one was prepared for the musical adaptation of Show Boat written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Show Boat completely broke the mold of musical theatre, not only in its subject matter and use of an interracial cast, but in its vivid characterization and rich and varied score which invented the concept of songs progressing the plot. Indeed, Show Boat was a radical departure from the vaudeville-influenced revues that had dominated Broadway up until then; it was a legitimate drama, told through song. The musical premiered on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Theatre on December 27, 1927, where it ran for 77 weeks and a total of 572 performances. Since its premiere, there have been several updates and revivals, all of which you can view here.

  23. The Sound of Music (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    Published in 1949, Maria Von Trapp’s memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers narrated the details of Maria’s eventful life, giving us the beautiful story of a would-be-nun who met the love of her life under the most unlikely of circumstances.

    The Story:
    The story follows young postulate (a nun who has not yet taken her vows), Maria, who is sent to work as a governess for the children of the widowed naval captain, Georg Von Trapp. Her growing rapport with the children, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the Captain and they eventually marry. But the family is forced to flee their beloved homeland of Austria as the Nazi invade and demand the Captain’s service in their navy. They successfully escape, and form the Von Trapp Family Singers.

    The Musical:
    Mary Martin was first introduced to the life story of Maria Von Trapp after seeing a German-language film about the family. She was so inspired by it, she and her husband Richard Halliday wanted to create a stage-play around the Von Trapps. But what is a story about Maria and the Von Trapp family without music? Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were originally approached to create Austrian-style folk music to include in the play. But since Rodgers and Hammerstein were at the top of their game, with their names alone selling a show for years, they were permitted to take the story and create a full-blown musical. And thus, The Sound of Music was born. One of the most treasured hits to come out of the musical is the love song “Edelweiss” which would be the last song Oscar Hammerstein would pen before his death on August 23, 1960.

    The Sound of Music opened on Broadway in November of 1959 and starred Mary Martin as Maria, and Theodore Bikel as Captain Von Trapp. It went on to win five Tony awards including Best Musical. The film adaptation starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer won five Academy awards and became one of the most popular movies of all time. The musical’s popularity is such that if you go to Salzburg, Austria today you will still see throngs of fans taking Sound of Music tours, and taking pictures at the iconic sites of the film. For more, click here.

  24. South Pacific (R&H Theatricals)

    The Book:
    Winner of the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Tales of the South Pacific is a collection of 19 chronological short stories about the Pacific campaign during World War II, written in 1946 by James A. Michener.

    The Story:
    Set on a tropical island paradise, the story follows two love stories threatened by the dangers and prejudice of WWII. Nellie, a nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of Emile’s children was an island native and, unable to see beyond her own bigotry, refuses Emile’s proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Joe Cable denies himself the fulfillment of a future with a Tonkinese girl with whom he’s fallen in love due to the same prejudices that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission that claims Joe’s life, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, thus confronting — and conquering — her prejudice.

    The Musical:
    Written by the power-house team of Rodgers and Hammerstein, the stage adaptation premiered on Broadway in 1949 and went on to win 10 Tony awards, a Grammy award, and the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Several of South Pacific' s songs have become iconic musical standards, including “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy,” and “Younger than Springtime.” A film adaptation was released in 1958 garnering three Academy Award nominations. To license the show, click here.

  25. A Tale of Two Cities (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a historical novel published over 31 weeks from April to November of 1859. It was originally serialized in Dickens’ own literary periodical called All Year Round. It is cited as one of the best-selling novels of all time with over 1,000 print editions having been created.

    The Story:
    Two men in love with the same woman. Two cities swept up in revolution. One last chance for a man to redeem his wasted life and change the world. A Tale of Two Cities is focuses on the love triangle between young beauty Lucie Manette, French aristocrat Charles Darnay and drunken English cynic Sydney Carton - all caught in the clutches of the bloody French Revolution.

    The Musical:
    In 2008, A Tale of Two Cities the musical transferred to Broadway. With book, music and lyrics by Jill Santoriello, the classic story of love, revolution, and redemption is what the Associated Press called, "the return to the era of big blockbusters such as Les Miserables, Phantom, and Miss Saigon.” For more, click here.

  26. Tuck Everlasting (Samuel French)

    The Book:
    The 1975 novel Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt is a classic of modern children’s literature. It has sold over five million copies and has boasted both a Disney film adaptation and a Broadway musical as well as three audiobooks.

    The Story:
    Eleven-year-old Winnie Foster yearns for a life of adventure beyond her white picket fence, but not until she becomes unexpectedly entwined with the Tuck Family does she get more than she could have imagined. When Winnie learns of the magic behind the Tuck’s unending youth, she must fight to protect their secret from those who would do anything for a chance at eternal life. As her adventure unfolds, Winnie faces an extraordinary choice: return to her life, or continue with the Tucks on their infinite journey.

    The Musical:
    The musical adaptation of Tuck Everlasting with music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, and a book by Claudia Shear and Tim Federle premiered at the Alliance Theater in Georgia in 2015 before transferring to Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in March 2016. Though its Broadway run was short-lived, it has been adapted into a TYA version and continues to teach children about the value of life in all its stages around the country. Click here for even more.

  27. The Wizard of Oz (Tams-Witmark)

    The Book:
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is one of the most lasting children’s books of all time. Originally published in 1900, Oz captured the imagination of the nation, and became a mega-hit. Oz went on to a long series of sequels and separate stories within the world, though the most famous continued to be The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The most notable differences between the book and its many adaptations is not only the presence of the un-named Witch of the North (Glinda is the Witch of the North in the film, but the Witch of the South in the books), but the donning of silver — not ruby — slippers.

    The Story:
    Dorothy Gale is just a typical farm-girl from Kansas who dreams of life beyond her colorless world. When a tornado hits, Dorothy, in her house, lands in the the strange land of Oz— on top of the Wicked Witch of the East. In order to get back home, Dorothy is sent on a quest to see the Wizard in Emerald City. While traveling, she makes friends with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, all with requests for the Wizard themselves. But will they be able to escape the treachery of the Wicked Witch of the West who seeks revenge for her sister’s death, and the possession of the silver/ruby slippers? All is not what it seems in the land of Oz, but above all, there’s no place like home.

    The Musical:
    The Wizard of Oz has long been subject to adaptation, as early as the first moving pictures in fact. In 1939, MGM studios set into production a musical version of The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland which would become a cornerstone of 20th century cinema and a classic never far away from the public conscience. In 1987, R.S.C produced a faithful stage adaptation of the MGM film and included such famous hits as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “If I Only Had a Brain/A Heart/The Nerve,” and “We’re Off to See the Wizard (Follow the Yellow Brick Road).”

    Additionally, the MUNY created a version of The Wizard of Oz which while incorporating some of the more classic songs from the MGM film, is plotted based on the original novel. Countless other Oz stage adaptations have been created, including many represented by Samuel French. Click here to check out the RSC version, inspired by the MGM film.

_

With so many books to choose from, it’s easy to make a library out of a season.

For more from Book Lovers Day, click here.

And for licensing rights to these and many more titles, visit:

samuelfrench.com
tamswitmark.com
rnh.com
themusicalcompany.com

The Global Stage: Passport to Vienna

The Global Stage: Passport to Vienna

Judy and End of the Rainbow: Playwright Peter Quilter from Stage to Screen

Judy and End of the Rainbow: Playwright Peter Quilter from Stage to Screen