The top 10 West End musicals that are adapted from films

By | Posted on 27-Nov-2018

The top 10 West End musicals that are adapted from films

Bringing some of the catchiest songs from the movies to the stage, many films have been adapted for theatres across the world. According to an article in The Stage, shows with storylines taken from popular culture sell nearly five times better than original stories, with film-based stage adaptations attracting the largest West End audiences. Movies from the golden age to recent family favourites have influenced many shows, bringing some of the catchiest songs with them. We take a look at productions that have been successful on the silver screen and in theatres.

West End musicals based on films

The Wedding Singer

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore starred in the 1998 movie The Wedding Singer, following 1980s vocalist Robbie Hart who is dumped at the altar. Struggling to fall in love, he just wants to be swept away by the woman of his dreams, but can this happen? Bringing this love story to the stage, Strictly Come Dancing star Kevin Clifton will take on the role of Robbie in The Wedding Singer at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre.

Pretty Woman: The Musical

Based on the 1990 movie of the same starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, don’t miss out on your chance to see the West End premiere of Pretty Woman: The Musical. Fall in love with Vivian Ward and Edward Lewis once more, as romance blossoms in unexpected circumstances in this sensual musical, featuring original music by Bryan Adams.

Sister Act

Whoopi Goldberg starred as lounge singer Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act, first seen in cinemas in 1992. Transforming a convent’s choir to raise their voice, Sister Act is a tribute to the power of sisterhood, friendship and music! After stunning audiences on screen, the film was adapted for stage and received its West End premiere in 2009. In a brand new production for 2020, don’t miss Whoopi Goldberg reprising her iconic role at the Eventim Apollo, playing for just one month!

The Prince of Egypt

Based on the Book of Exodus as later told in the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, the musical adaptation will receive its British premiere at the Dominion Theatre. Featuring the chart-topping song ‘When You Believe’, join Moses in an unbelievable embodiment of human spirit and compassion as he saves the Israelites from persecution. Rising up to free his people, see how the course of millions of lives changed forever at The Prince of Egypt, opening in 2020.


Brought to theatres with a touch of Ultra-Clutch, the 1988 musical-film Hairspray was adapted for the stage by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the duo behind Sister Act and The Addams Family. As in the film, Tracy Turnblad secures a coveted spot dancing on The Corny Collins Show, but her superiors challenge her progressive views. The production opened in the West End in 2007, playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre for two and a half years.Hairspray will return to London in 2020, starring Michael Ball as Edna Turnblad.

School of Rock


Before the fictional story of Dewey Finn taking on the role of a substitute teacher at Horace Green was brought to life on stage, it was told in a film. Released in 2003, Jack Black played the lead role, accompanying a class to put down their pens and notepads and pick up their musical instruments in a heartfelt story with plenty of music. Creating his own curriculum, Dewey Finn transforms the class into a rock band, signing them up to a local Battle of the Bands competition in order to get a high grade. Hear the film’s original songs performed on stage, as well as new material written for the stage adaptation at School of Rock currently playing at the Gillian Lynne Theatre.

The Lion King

Lion King

Released in 1994, The Lion King is one of the highest-grossing films for Disney but is also one of the most successful stage adaptations in history. First opening at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway in 1997, The Lion King then transferred to the West End in 1999. The story of Simba becoming King of the Pride Lands is currently ongoing at theatres on both sides of the pond, as audiences are transported to the Serengeti to see their favourite animated animals come to life. Elton John brought his musical touch to the production, creating the music for the show with iconic songs including “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. With colourful costumes and puppets bringing the pride lands to life, The Lion King has become a staple of musical theatre, as audiences young and old fall in love with the young cub. Take our quiz on The Lion King to see how much you know about the show.

9 to 5

Known for her country tunes including “Jolene”, Dolly Parton penned the score for 9 to 5, which first opened on Broadway in 2009. The musical follows the story of three headstrong female colleagues, as they come up with inventive ways to kill their boss. The show ran for under a year on Broadway and is currently bringing a country whirlwind to the West End, starring Bonnie Langford and David Hasselhoff.

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

Nominated for 13 Oscars and considered to be one of the Disney greats, Mary Poppins finally received the stage treatment in 2004, premiering at the Prince Edward Theatre in London. Audiences were stunned at the lovable nanny flying into the theatre, as she brought magic into caring for Jane and Michael Banks while meeting Bert, a jack of all trades. Featuring Disney songs including “Feed the Birds” and “Step in Time”, the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” show ran for over three years, closing in 2008. Mary Poppins returns to the West End in 2019, starring Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins and Charlie Stemp as Bert.


Adapted from a 2007 film by Adrienne Shelly, Waitress follows Jenna Hunterson, a young woman from a small town who faces an unwanted pregnancy. Her creative outlet is her pie making, so when she sees a pie-making competition in a local town with a cash prize, she enters in the hope of starting a new life for her and her child. Led by an all-female creative team with music from Sara Bareilles, the show opened on Broadway in 2016.