Keeping up with theater trends, lately I have noticed how many musicals, and especially those for children, have found their source material in books. This obviously isn’t unheard of, although many book-based musicals are actually book-based-movies-turned-Broadway-show, like Mary Poppins or Spider Man. However, there are a few new shows out that have skipped the movie step and gone straight to stage (although perhaps in off- and off-off-off Broadway).
The most famous of these (and VERY VERY highly recommended by moi) is Wicked, adapted by Gregory Macguire’s novel of the same name. While it is technically a book for adults, and the storyline of the novel is bogged down by political commentary*, at the heart of the musical is a story of acceptance and finding out who you are. Elphaba’s journey, along with G(a)linda, the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion are something every teenager can relate to.
For the younger crowd, Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical, based on Julianne Moore’s picture book recently opened. I got the inside scoop on this book while interning at Bloomsbury Children’s Books and if the musical is anything like the book, it’s a gem. I only wish I had a few kids to take to see the show, so I wouldn’t be the only adult unaccompanied by a kid in the theater.
In London, Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvelous Medicine recently opened, and perhaps it will make it’s way to New York like so many shows do.
And Scholastic just announced the traveling show, Clifford the Big Red Dog: A Big Family Musical, which will be performed in sixty cities around the country. It’s just in development stages, but it’s something exciting to look forward to!
So, for kids young and old, there are plenty of choices for a theater experience. Read the book, then see the show. It’s a match made in musical heaven.
* And for the record, although Wicked wasn’t my favorite ‘fairytale’ adaptation of Gregory Macguire’s, the strongly plotted sequel, Son of a Witch, makes reading the first one worth it.