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From Pages to Musical Stages: Books That Inspired Musicals

Different art forms have always inspired more art. Classic paintings have inspired novels, stories have inspired paintings, images have inspired music, and novels have inspired musical productions. Here is a list of some famous musicals based on books that you may find familiar.

  1. Hamilton


Currently Broadway’s most famous newcomer, Hamilton is a hip-hop musical based on the life of founding father, Alexander Hamilton. The musical, with the music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, was based on the book Alexander Hamilton by historian Rob Chernow. After reading the book, Miranda started working on a project called The Hamilton Mixtape, which years later turned into Hamilton. The show’s cast recording recently won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Album and is a favorite for the upcoming Tony Awards.

  1. Cabaret


This raucous show was based on a book series titled the Berlin Trilogy by Christopher Isherwood. The story in its core is very dark, as it is set in 1930s, the Nazis’ rise to power, with issues of abortion thrown in. This musical is best known for Liza Minelli’s interpretation of the title song.

  1. Wicked

Adam Garcia, Helen Dallimore Miriam Margolyes and Company in the London production of "Wicked" @ Apollo Victoria (opening 27-09-06)©Tristram Kenton 09-06 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355 email:

This was based on a book written by Gregory Maguire entitled Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. It is the first book of a series set in the magical land of Oz. The book series is a spin-off of Frank L. Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz. The book tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Glinda and Elphaba. The former comes from an upper-class family, while the latter is considered the black sheep of her family. The events in Wicked lead up to Dorothy’s visit to Oz.

  1. Gypsy

GYPSY by Sondheim, ;          , Music - Stephen Sondheim, based on book by Arthur Laurents, Director - Jonathan Kent, Choreography - Stephen Mear, Designer - Anthony Ward, Lighting - Mark Henderson,  The Savoy Theatre, London, 2015,  Credit: Johan Persson -

Based on the 1957 book Memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the musical tells the story of the famous striptease artist but focuses more on her mother, Rose. Her mother is considered “the ultimate show business mother.” The musical tells of Rose’s efforts in raising two daughters to become performers.

  1. Les Miserables

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo’s four-volume story about the legacy of the French Revolution inspired one of the world’s longest-running and most critically acclaimed musicals. Les Miserables, set in the eighteenth century, tackles the story of various characters and their struggles in life. The story starts off when an ex-convict, named Jean Valjean, was shown mercy by a priest who set him free after stealing the church’s silver, only asking him to change the course of his life for the better. Les Miserables is the longest-running musical on the West End.

  1. Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera

Gaston Leroux’s ghost story was adapted by musical genius Andrew Lloyd Webber and turned it into arguably one of the world’s best musicals. The musical tells about an unknown resident of a Paris opera dubbed as the Phantom, who causes trouble if his instructions are not followed. These instructions mostly involve an ingénue dancer named Christine, whom the Phantom has taught how to sing. The musical is currently considered the world’s longest-running musical. It recently celebrated 30 years onstage.



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