- Some of the most famous Broadway musicals were inspired by or adapted from hit films.
- Musical adaptations of “Beetlejuice” and “Tootsie” opened in 2019.
- “Hairspray” was based on John Waters’ movie of the same name.
- Glenn Close starred in the musical version of “Sunset Boulevard.”
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
From “Sunset Boulevard” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” to “Hairspray” and “Billy Elliot,” some of the most successful Broadway musicals were inspired by or adapted from hit movies.
Just in time for the Tony Awards, INSIDER rounded up some iconic films that were adapted for the Broadway stage.
The musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” opened on Broadway in 2019.
Tim Burton’s 1988 comedy-horror flick “Beetlejuice” officially arrived on the Broadway stage in 2019. The film tells the story of a recently deceased couple (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) who haunt their former home with help from a crass spirit named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton).
Australian singer-songwriter and actor Eddie Perfect wrote the tunes for the stage version, which stars Alex Brightman in the title role. The film and its cast are nominated for multiple Tony awards this year.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Santino Fontana plays the lead role in the 2019 Broadway adaptation of “Tootsie.”
Santino Fontana, who appeared as Greg on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” on the show’s first two seasons, plays Michael in the musical. David Yazbek, the Tony-award-winning composer of “The Band’s Visit,” wrote the score.
As queer theatre critic Christian Lewis wrote for American Theatre, “Although there are no trans characters in the musical, trans people are the butt of every joke, a silent specter of mockery, as the whole musical revolves around a never-ending ‘man in a dress’ gag, a trope that’s rooted in transmisogyny (hatred of trans women).”
Tina Fey adapted her “Mean Girls” screenplay for the 2018 Broadway musical.
Released in 2004 and frequently quoted by movie fans, “Mean Girls” revolves around new-girl Cady (Lindsay Lohan) and the Plastics, the queen-bee crew she befriends at her high school.
For the 2018 musical version, Tina Fey adapted her own screenplay for the stage. Fey’s husband Jeff Richmond wrote the score with lyricist Nell Benjamin.
Gary Marshall’s classic “Pretty Woman” opened on Broadway in 2018.
“Pretty Woman,” Gary Marshall’s 1990 film about a businessman (Richard Gere) and a sex worker (Julia Roberts) who fall in love is a romantic comedy. Canadian songwriting duo Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance wrote the score for the 2018 Broadway adaptation.
After the book received two film adaptations, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” became a Broadway musical in 2017.
In 1971, Roald Dahl’s 1964 book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was adapted into the famous film, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.
In 2005, it was adapted into a film once more under the title “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.
Many years and two films later, in 2017, this chocolate-filled story was adapted for the Broadway stage with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Australian comedian Tim Minchin wrote the score for the musical adaptation of “Matilda.”
Australian comedian Tim Minchin, who also wrote the score for the musical adaptation of “Groundhog Day,” provided the music and lyrics. The Broadway musical has won multiple Tony awards.
The cult-classic Disney film “Newsies” became a Broadway hit in 2011.
Beloved by audiences but not so much by critics, the 1992 movie-musical film “Newsies” is loosely based on the real-life 1899 newsboys’ strike in New York City, when kids who were selling newspapers began fighting for their rights and protesting the publishing giants who treated them poorly.
The Broadway adaptation of “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” features a score of hit pop songs.
The 1994 Australian movie “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” chronicles the escapades of two drag queens and a transgender woman as they travel to a remote resort town to perform in a show.
In 2011, “Priscilla” opened as a Broadway musical featuring a score of hit pop songs like “It’s Raining Men” and “Say A Little Prayer.”
The ballet drama “Billy Elliot” became a musical with tunes by Elton John.
Elton John crafted the music for the show, which featured three young actors who shared the role of Billy. It has won 10 Tony Awards.
The energetic, empowering vibe of “Legally Blonde” made it a natural fit for Broadway.
Reese Witherspoon charmed viewers as Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde,” the 2001 movie about a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex. The movie’s energetic, empowering vibe was a natural fit for Broadway, with a musical adaptation opening in 2007.
To find a replacement for Laura Bell Bundy, who originated the role of Elle, the producers worked with MTV to host a reality show called “Legally Blonde: The Musical – The Search for Elle Woods.” Out of 24 contenders, a contestant named Bailey Hanks won the part and began performing as Elle Woods in 2008.
Before “The Colour Purple” became a musical in 2005, it was a novel and a film.
Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning 1982 novel “The Colour Purple” focuses on Celie, a black woman living in the southern United States in the 1900s and the hardships she overcomes.
The 2015 Broadway revival featured Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson, and Danielle Brooks.
“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” inspired the funny musical “Spamalot.”
Parodying the legend of King Arthur, 1975’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was written and performed by the eponymous British comedy group.
A Tony-award-winning 2005 stage adaptation called “Spamalot” brought the movie’s madcap Arthurian antics to Broadway.
Set in the ’20s, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” became a musical in 2002.
Julie Andrews played Millie in the film, with Sutton Foster stepping into the role on Broadway. Jeanine Tesori, who also wrote the music for “Fun Home,” composed the score.
“Millie” won six Tony awards, including the honour for best musical.
John Waters’ “Hairspray” was turned into a Broadway musical in 2002.
Set in the ’60s, John Waters’ 1988 comedy “Hairspray” follows Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) as she auditions for a teen dance show and helps fight racial segregation alongside black students from her school.
Marc Shaiman, who most recently penned the score for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” wrote the music and lyrics for the 2002 Broadway adaptation.
The musical adaptation of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” opened in 2001.
“The Producers,” Mel Brooks’ 1967 film about two Broadway producers (Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) who scheme to get rich from a flop, was turned into a musical in 2001. It starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
Winning 12 Tony awards, the musical version of “The Producers” became a poorly-received movie in 2005, with Lane and Broderick reprising their roles.
The 1998 Broadway adaptation of “Footloose” features songs from the movie’s soundtrack.
The show incorporates music from the movie’s soundtrack, such as the tracks, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” and “Holding Out for a Hero,” as well as songs that were written just for the musical.
Glenn Close originated the role of star Norma Desmond in the 1994 Broadway production of “Sunset Boulevard.”
The 1950 film “Sunset Boulevard” focuses on the relationship between a failed screenwriter named Joe Gillis (William Holden) and Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a former silent-film star. A musical adaptation with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber opened on Broadway in 1994.
Glenn Close originated the role of Norma in the Broadway production (and won a Tony for her performance) and reprised the part in the 2017 revival. Close is reportedly in talks to play Norma once more in a movie adaptation of the show.
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