Imagine an adaptation of your favorite novel but instead of seeing it onscreen (big or small) you see it onstage paired with a catchy soundtrack and you see your favorite characters in-person and they’re in tap shoes and singing out their lines from the book. When adapted from the right novels that have the potential to be performed for the big stage (not just screen), they would make for great plays as well as memorable musicals that would be all the talk of Broadway, even for years to come.
From the success of the musicals based on Ned Vizzini’s novel Be More Chill and the first novel of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson And The Olympians series, we can’t help but dream of what other books would be the next hits on Broadway!
So, here are three books that just might hold the potential to be eventually—if not instant—instant Broadway classics.
Also, even though I’m sticking to only three for this list, I would like to mention Adam Silvera’s novel They Both Die At The End, a tale that is about two queer teens in NYC, daring Rufus and reserved Mateo, who have only 24 hours to live and devote their remaining time to living them to the fullest, and will be getting the small screen treatment on HBO. This is a book that, with the right actors portraying the polar-opposite leads and heart-wrenching soundtrack, would have all the thespians in tears…
Image via The AV Club
But anyway, aside from that honorable mention, let’s get on to the actual list!
1. Let Me Hear a Rhyme – Tiffany D. Jackson
Image via Amazon
The plot summary of this novel is this: Steph, a young aspiring hip hop artist, was murdered and to honor his memory, his two friends Quadir and Jarrell and sister Jasmine all decide to promote his music under a new name “The Architect” and pretend that he is still alive to receive credit.
If you think that it sounds kind of familiar, then it does. It bears a little bit of a resemblance to the 1989 movie Weekend At Bernie’s, in which two young insurance corporation employees both find their boss Bernie dead and pretend that he is still alive to deflect any suspicion.
In fact, the novel, though published this year in 2019, takes place in the 90s, which was not too far off from when the movie came out (the book is set in ’98, which is ’89, the movie’s release date, in reverse)!
If this book were to be adapted to the stage, it has to have a killer hip hop soundtrack, which of course fits with the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in which the teenagers reside and the music that Steph had created for the world to hear. Also, given this Weekend At Bernie’s-inspired plot, the comedic chops from the actors playing these characters, when on-point, are bound to get laughs from the audience while jamming out to the musical’s hip hop chops. In this novel’s case, above all else, the music is everything, so when and if adapted as a musical, the musical world can surely provide!
2. The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo
Image via Amazon
This book is about a young Harlem girl named Xiomara, who grew up using her fists to show her dominance and hide any vulnerability she may have but grew fascinated by words, all of which she is forced to keep to herself—about her own faith and identity in this world—as her mother is forcing her to obey the laws of church, yet the pull towards poetry within her is all too strong…
This one may be tricky to pass as a musical, given that it is mainly about poetry, which is slightly different from music, but with a strong underlying score behind her words, it would definitely be a show to remember.
3. The Prince and the Dressmaker – Jen Wang
Image via Amazon
And finally, this graphic novel, which is a very educated way of saying comic-driven novel, is about a prince named Sebastian whose passion is to show off the prettiest dresses and does so under the alias Lady Crystallia.
Given that the plot sounds very similar to Anastasia and Cinderella, both of which, of course, were a musical, the show for this work would be first and foremost focused on the costumes as it is about a dressmaker, which would come as no surprise.
Don’t worry, Prince Sebastian/Lady Crystallia, you will soon be the belle of the ball in this musical as you were in the paneled pages…
So, do you think these works of YA fiction deserve to be adapted into musicals? Can you think of any others? Do you think maybe Be More Chill should be adapted into a movie as well? (I know I do!)
Whatever the case, you cannot deny theatre’s influence on our and other countries’ cultures, but sometimes, theatre could use a little push, and it’s just one of the many mediums that lit fiction latches onto in order to adapt into something that can really captivate an audience and be something truly memorable…
Featured Image via Forbes