There are hundreds of classic and popular children’s books which have been adapted for others formats. Many children have the pleasure of enjoying their favorite books converted into plays and musicals and this format allows their favorite tale to be brought to life in a whole new way. Below we’re picked out three very popular books for children which have been adapted very successfully for the stage.
It’s impossible to start anywhere but Matilda. Roald Dahl’s perennially popular 1988 novel was adapted into a multi-award winning musical. The musical had an initial trial run at Stratford-upon-Avon in late 2010 and reached the West End by November 2011. It’s Broadway premier took place at the Shubert Theatre in April 2013.
Matilda brings to life all the unforgettable characters from Dahl’s novel. From Matilda herself to evil Miss Trunchbull and her neglectful parents. It’s a true celebration of literature as well as Matilda’s magic powers. The musical has remained hugely popular and in 2012 it won seven Laurence Olivier wards – the most awards any single musical has won. The show currently has runs both in London and New York with the show heading to Sydney, Australia in 2015.
War Horse was an innovation in theatre when first launched. A masterpiece in huge puppetry it took puppets somewhere that people had never before imagined. The play itself is based upon Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name. The novel looks at the role of one particular horse, purchased by the Army to serve in France in the First World War, despite the protestations and desperation of his young owner to get him back.
War Horse on stage was adapted for stage by Nick Stafford and directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. Life-size horse puppets were crafted specifically for the show by the Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa and the term ‘horse choreography’ was coined by Toby Sedgwick who planned the movement of the puppets around the stage. War Horse won two Laurence Olivier Awards in 2008 for Best Set Design and Best Theatre Choreographer.
Mary Poppins is one of the most famous characters of all time. She has become such a household name that many people don’t even know that she began life as a character in a novel. The original novel Mary Poppins was written by Julian Fellowes and published in 1934 and seven further novels featuring Mary Poppins were published. It became famous as a Disney film in 1964 and was finally adapted successfully for stage in 2004.
Mary Poppins the Musical is based heavily on the Disney film with snippets of Fellowes’ novels. It was developed by the Walt Disney Theatrical company and opened in the West End in December 2004. Just two years later it hit Broadway. Between these opening dates it picked up two Laurence Olivier awards for Best Actress and Best Theatre Choreographer in 2005. Like the other two shows we’ve mentioned redevelopments and tours of Mary Poppins are ongoing in London and New York as the show remains a huge hit.
These are just three of many fabulous famous shows that use children’s books as their inspiration.