The top 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
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.
The Prince of Egypt
Based on the Book of Exodus as later told in the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, the musical adaptation receives 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. Audiences are loving The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre.
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 2021 at the London Coliseum, starring Michael Ball as Edna Turnblad.
The 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.
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 returned to the West End in 2019, starring Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins and Charlie Stemp as Bert and received six Olivier Award nominations.
Bring it On
As one of the greatest cheerleading films of all time, it’s no surprise that Bring it On would be adapted into a musical. It’s a high-energy musical complete with cheerleading stunts and unbelievable routines, where squad captain Campbell is forced to move to a rival school. But, when unlikely friendship catapults Campbell back into contention, will she achieve the impossible?