5 Odd Book-to-Musical Adaptations We’d Like to See


This spring, a brand-new romantic musical will be hitting Broadway, and it’s got a pretty familiar name: The Bridges of Madison County. Even if you didn’t check out the 1995 film starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, certainly you know the book by Robert James Waller (or, at the very least, remember the recognizable book cover sitting on your mom’s bookshelf). Across the pond, another surprising musical is hitting London’s West End: Doctor Who star Matt Smith will step into the role of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, based on the controversial book by Bret Easton Ellis. Both novels got the big-budget film adaptations that brought them larger audiences, but it’s surprising to see these two odd books get turned into musicals. With that in mind, here are a few other books from the same era that could probably do, well, fine on Broadway.


Are you longing for the emotional realness of Rent but hoping for more heroin use? A Trainspotting musical is just the ticket. Just think of the amazing stage magic that the creators could employ — the baby crawling all over the ceiling, perhaps doing a jig above the audience, and of course they’d have to do something incredibly shocking with the explosive diarrhea scene. But the real draw here, obviously, would be to get Iggy Pop involved to write the score and the lyrics.

The Prince of Tides

Everyone loves a little Southern melodrama, and the dual-plot device in Pat Conroy’s novel (later adapted to film by director Barbra Streisand) would be perfect on stage — just take a look at the warmly received Big Fish, which just opened on Broadway. Of course, this one is a bit of a downer; I can’t imagine anyone being into watching (spoiler alert!) an entire family getting raped by a redheaded giant.

The Cider House Rules

Look, if Broadway can go in for singing Nazis, I see no reason why we can’t have a charming old fellow singing about abortions in a put-upon Maine accent. But the real attraction here, clearly, are all of those orphans! Broadway loves a big production number full of precocious kids, particularly those with the sadness of those unwanted New England kids. Can’t you just see those little guys tying themselves to cleaning supplies and shouting, “We are the PRINCES of MAINE, we are the KINGS of NEW ENGLAND!”

Waiting to Exhale

Terry McMillan’s novel about a group of African-American women got the big-screen treatment in the mid-’90s, and I’ve always said it’d make a good musical. I mean, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds wrote all of those songs for the soundtrack, and they’re just sitting there! Plus, all I’ve ever wanted was to hear a full orchestra-backed rendition of “Not Goin’ Cry” while a white Mercedes is set ablaze on stage. There’s no reason we can’t make this happen.


Where are those dulcet tones coming from? Well, from the brightly made-up killer clown, of course, who will also do a soft-shoe that’ll steal your heart. (Then he’ll eat it.) Again, Stephen King’s epic It has everything: kids, flashbacks, the ’50s, giant man-eating spiders. Take this as my personal request, Julie Taymor, for you to come back to Broadway and reclaim your crown after that unfortunate Spider-Man business. Also, go ahead and cut quite a lot of the plot out of there, because a four-hour horror musical seems like it’d be a lot to take in.