Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Friday: Guest Post From Trishajennreads: Five Broadway Musicals You Didn't Know Were Based On Books

Hello world! I’m Trisha from trishajennreads. Aside from novels, I also really like dance and theatre (I was a total bunhead when I was a kid and even thought about trying to go professional as a dancer).

So, what better way to celebrate my collection of loves by exploring Broadway musicals you didn't know were based on books?! So many plays and movies are based on novels and, sadly, audiences don’t always realize this.

Here are five pretty well-known musicals that, surprisingly or unsurprisingly, depending on your level of knowledge, are based on books.

Fiddler on the Roof

We’re all familiar with the shoulder shake from the movie version. But Joseph Stein didn’t write the original story of Tevye trying to live out his Jewish traditions and find good marriages for his daughters.

The story of Tevye was originally penned by a man named Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich. Better known by his pen name, Sholem Aleichem, he wrote a series of short stories written in the form of a fictional memoir called Tevye the Dairyman or Tevye and his Daughters written in 1894.

The Phantom of the Opera

Also super well known, not many know this play is based on the novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra written by Gaston Leroux. The story of the ghost haunting the Paris Opera House was originally published in serial format between September 1909 and January 1910. It was published in novel form in English in 1911.

The original story is apparently much darker than the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage version that we all know so well. It’s called Gothic Horror Literature and I’m tempted (but also scared) to pick it up and read it to see.


Syncopated, ragged rhythms make this hybrid style of music a blend of sounds that became popular at the end of the 19th century. This musical debuted in the 1990s but is based on a 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow.

Ragtime weaves real historical figures in and out of the lives of the fictional characters to discuss ideas of fame and success, racism, violence, and family. The story focuses on three separate and very different families and how their lives intersect in early 1900s New York. There is the wealthy white family, the working class black family, and the Eastern European immigrant family.

The Pyjama Game

It’s only a 7 ½ cent raise, but the workers of Sleep-Tite pyjama factory are denied the request to bring their wage up to par with other similar workers. Mix in a little romance and some union politics and you’ve got yourself quite the conundrum.

The musical, which premiered in 1954, is based on the novel 7 ½ Cents by Richard Bissell. Bissell adapted it for the stage himself.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

A comedy about a serial killer. This is a fairly new musical, winning Tony awards in 2014. But it is based on a 1907 novel called Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal written by Roy Horniman. Again, I must reiterate, it’s a comedy about a serial killer, with musical numbers. Of all the musicals I’ve listed here, I really, really want to see this one!

What is your favourite musical adaptation?

*images from

Trisha Jenn Loehr is a professional bookworm–okay, she’s a professional communicator who loves to read and dreams of one day reading novels all day long and getting paid for it. She blogs about writing and bookish things at She’s a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach too. Oh, and she also loves tea and pretty things. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and find her bookish designs on RedBubble.

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