Books that go from page to stage are nothing new, but it would be wrong to say that a series like Goose bumps obtaining a musical adaptation was expected. With an original production premiering in 2021 and a Broadway cast featuring Alex Brightman from beetle juice fame, one only has to wonder which book series is next to get the theatrical treatment.
Dozens and dozens of children’s books and children’s literature have entered the scene over the centuries. Of Little woman at Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, the theater has been a welcoming environment for a variety of different stories for young and old.
ten Harry Potter by JK Rowling
If it’s true that JK Rowling wrote a Broadway play in the form of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it was divisive as some fans expected more from the series they had grown up with. That being said, the early books in the series might as well have suited the scene.
Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone would probably do better on stage, especially if he was treated the same as Peter and the Starcatchers. The magic and wonder that millions of readers felt when they first opened the pages of The Boy Who Lived is absolutely worth bringing to a live audience.
9 An Earthsea Magician by Ursula K. LeGuin
On the other hand, if readers/viewers are looking for something different but just as magical, An Earthsea magician presents its own wizard with a much more epic feel. It may not be the easiest work of fiction to adapt, but a talented director can shake things up.
A game based on anything earthsea should look like a Greek drama, maybe even with masks. The saga of Ged and his time at the wizarding school isn’t exactly something audiences might expect from Hogwarts, but it’s a coming-of-age tale that’s as moving as it is intelligent and thought-provoking.
8 Dies Drear’s House by Virginia Hamilton
Not all YA literature has to be sweet and fancy. In fact, some books for young readers can be more mature and intense than many adult novels. Concrete example, Dies Drear’s House by Virginia Hamilton is a haunted house story that desperately needs more attention.
Mysterious things begin to happen when a historian and his family move into a plantation house that was once an Underground Railroad stop. In a story about a house with secret passageways, the ghosts of two trapped slaves, and a mysterious guardian who lives in a cave, a play inspired by the book would be unforgettable Southern Gothic, despite its Ohio setting.
seven Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
For fans who want something with a little more pizzazz than Goosebumps, scary stories to tell in the dark has a lot of material that would be absolutely wonderful and gruesome if brought to life. While Guillermo Del Toro’s film will no doubt disturb many viewers’ sleep, a stage version could provide a new anthology of popular horror.
The books are perfect for black-box theatrical adaptation, bringing audiences closer and closer to the stories as these scary stories unfold one by one. With modern theatrical techniques like puppetry, immersive scenography, and other advancements, this could be one of the most intense theatrical experiences around.
6 A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
With games like The woman in black and Something bad this way comes, it’s safe to say that Gothic literature generally makes for interesting and engaging theater. That being said, there are few Gothic stories as beloved by young readers as Lemony Snicket’s. A series of unfortunate events.
With Neil Patrick Harris already a star of stage and screen reprising the role of Count Olaf, a stage adaptation of at least the early novels to the movie adaptation with Jim Carrey could very well be possible. The staging should be incredibly creative, but it’s certainly likely.
5 Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
If King Kong can get his own Broadway musical, so can Clifford the Big Red Dog. Along with receiving its own live-action movie and animated series, Clifford’s scarlet face has been a fixture in children’s literature for decades. A stage adaptation would certainly not be out of the question.
The plot doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, the idea of a colossus-sized dog living in New York already lends itself well to the Broadway scene. However, the script would have to be marvelous for it to be commercially successful.
4 The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury is no stranger to stage or screen, but an adaptation of The Halloween Tree would be absolutely perfect for the stage. While some liberties may have to be taken to make it more practical, time travel through Halloween’s past with the magical and mysterious Mr. Moundshround would be absolutely brilliant.
It’s a story that lends itself to so many creative interpretations. The set can be as intricate or as simple as desired, but it definitely needs that singular pumpkin-covered tree that ties the story together.
3 Busytown Series by Richard Scarry
The Busy World of Richard Scarry has covered decades of children’s books, a TV show, and even a handful of spinoffs, but a tried-and-true musical has yet to be seen. The potential is definitely there, especially with such a large and eclectic cast of lovable characters like Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm.
Busytown itself could come to life on stage, and with so many books, characters, and storylines, the possibilities are virtually endless. That being said, it might be difficult to narrow down a singular story in Scarry’s bibliography of over 300 titles.
2 The Van Allsburg Books by Chris Van Allsburg
The name “Chris Van Allsburg” may not be familiar to some, but his titles certainly are. Responsible for creating books like Zathura, Jumanji, and The Polar Express, many of his works have inspired the world of cinema, but not so much the world of the stage.
So far, Jumanji is the only one to have received a stage version, but there are plenty of others who deserve the treatment. The Polar Express could be a holiday musical, and widow’s broom could be absolutely haunting. Either way, the sets would be something for the record books. Granted, these should stay closer to the source material than the movies, but that doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a specific audience for them.
1 M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
Fantasy genius Neil Gaiman has already seen three of his works turned into plays, four if the operatic version of Coraline is taken into account, but they are not exactly the most suitable for children. That’s not to say they aren’t great, but it does have a slew of stories that would be great for the stage in M is for magic.
The collection of stories spans the gauntlet of different genres, including mystery, comedy, and horror. The case of the four and twenty blackbirds, the price, and Chivalry would all be absolutely wonderful if they were adapted to the scene, especially the last story about a knight, an old lady, and the Holy Grail.
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