13 Musicals Based on Movies You Probably Haven't Seen

A while back, I did a blog post about novels that musical are based on. And I've done posts about cool movie musicals. But it occurred to me that, as much fun as it is reading a musical's source novel, it's just as much fun seeing a musical's source movie -- for all the same reasons. It's so cool to see the choices made in adapting the story from one medium to another. I remember when we did Passion in 1996, it helped me enormously both to read the original novel and also to see the original film. I picked up a lot of subtle but rich detail we could use in the show.

For the purposes of this post, I'm assuming that you've seen the more famous movies that have becomes stage musicals, like Saturday Night Fever, All About Eve, Big, Beauty and the Beast (and its many siblings), Billy Elliott, Urban Cowboy, Young Frankenstein...

Here are a bunch you probably haven't seen. In the following baker's dozen, when the adapted musical has a different title from its source, the first title is the musical, the second is the film.

You're probably least likely to have seen the foreign films on this list, but they're all really wonderful...

Passion / Passione d'Amore

King of Hearts

Sweet Charity / Nights of Cabiria

Nine / 8 1/2

A Little Night Music / Smiles of a Summer Night

I'm also betting you haven't seen most of these quirky indie movies that were turned into stage musicals...

Eating Raoul

Little Shop of Horrors

No Way to Treat a Lady

This last bunch were mainstream movies, but a long time ago. So whether or not you've seen them probably depends on your age or whether or not you're a film buff...


Zorba / Zorba the Greek

Whistle Down the Wind

Sweet Smell of Success


I'll also bet you haven't seen quite a few of these stage musicals, am I right? Me neither! After all, how often do any of us get a chance to see the stage musicals King of Hearts, No Way to Treat a Lady, Eating Raoul, or the massive pop opera Metropolis? Almost never. But now at least, you'll have some more items to add to your bucket list.

And if you run one of the many amazing small theatres around our country, consider producing one of these shows. I know the ticket sales might be iffy, but they're all such cool pieces of theatre.

As I finish writing this, I suddenly realize, I guess for the first time, how many dozens -- hundreds? -- of cool musicals I will never get to see. The sooner we get a time machine, the better -- imagine those theatre trips!

Long Live the Musical!