Many, many musicals nowadays are adaptations of books or movies. And while some should have just stayed the way they originally were (*cough, cough* "Mean Girls"), many of these stories are so much better in musical form. Here are some musical adaptations that I think are even better than the original work!
1. "Legally Blonde"
This might be a bit controversial, but I enjoy the musical even more than the movie (and I love the movie). The story just lends itself perfectly to the musical form, especially with Elle's bubbly personality. The upbeat music really adds to Elle's peppy nature. Also, this musical is the definition of girl power, especially the "Legally Blonde (Reprise)" song.
2. "Les Misérables"
I tried so hard to read this book. Some lovers of the musical affectionately call it "The Brick" because of how thick and dense it is. The story is good, but few have the patience to get through it all.
However, the musical is epic. The opening chords are earth-shattering and that intensity stays throughout the show. Each song is another work of art. The music enhances all the emotions and themes already in the book, making it a more full and satisfying experience.
I haven't seen the entirety of this movie, but what I did see was kind of awkward and poorly acted. But the songs in the musical version add a whole new depth to the story (and honestly makes the story all the more messed up). There are songs, like "Seventeen" and "Our Love Is God," that wouldn't be nearly as powerful if they had just been acted rather than sung.
(Note: This video is of the UK / West End cast because I couldn't find a legal live recording of the original Broadway cast. But the UK cast is just as amazing as the original.)
I don't even want to think about a version of "Hairspray" without the song "You Can't Stop the Beat." These songs have become iconic over the years, far outshining the original movie from 1988. If you are going to make a dance movie, making it a musical with plenty of dance number opportunities is really the way to go.
I tried reading this book too and it was decent, but it didn't make nearly as much of an impact on me as the Broadway musical did. Just like with Hairspray, songs like "Defying Gravity," "Popular," and "For Good" have become huge.
The musical gets to explore some themes more deeply with the music, while the book is more complex and geared more toward adults. So both versions have their own positive things to offer.
I have loved the "Anastasia" animated movie since I was a child, but as an adult, I love the musical even more. In this version, they did away with the idea of Rasputin as the villain (and a zombie wizard type thing?) and made it more accurate to actual Russian history, which didn't take away from the story at all. Also, there are tons of new songs that they added for the musical specifically and they are absolutely magical.
Photo Credit: YouTube