World Book Day – Musicals

World Book Day is here and to celebrate, we thought we would take a look at the musicals that started off life as a book.

So here are four musicals that are now on in London’s West End, that were originally books. Can you come up with any more?

Les Misérables

World Book Day Musicals Les Miserables

Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is considered to be one of the greatest 19th century novels written. This huge book which covers the 17 years leading up to the June rebellion in Paris in 1832 has been the subject of a variety of adaptations in film, books, radio, cartoons, plays and even games! Although it follows the story of several 19th century characters, the prime narrative source is provided by the life of escaped convict Jean Valjean.

Link to the musical –


Wicked Theatre Breaks

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was written by Gregory Maguire in 1995 written by Gregory Maguire. Set in Oz in the years immediately prior to Dorothy’s arrival and then during her adventures there, it takes an alternative view of events, telling the story of a girl, Elphaba (LFB – the initials of the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L Frank Baum) who grows up different to everyone else around her and how she copes with being an outsider!

Link to the musical –



Matilda is Roald Dahl’s story of an extraordinary young girl, unwanted by her parents and victimsed at school, who fights back against her evil headmistress (Miss Trunchbull) and releases the pupils of Crunchem Hall from a life of cruelty and servitude. Matilda was written in by Dahl in 1988 with illustrations by Quentin Blake. In 1998 it was voted “Nation’s Favorite Children’s Book” in the BBC Bookworm Poll.

Link to the musical –

War Of The Worlds

War of the Worlds

HG Wells wrote The War of the Worlds in 1897. It has not been out of print since! Set in Southern England it tells the story of a Martian invasion though the eyes of two brothers. The idea of the book came to Wells when he moved to Woking in Surrey and mused what it would be like if martians were to invade. However popular the novel is, it is probably the radio adaptation of 1938 that is most famous. It starred Orson Wells and caused widespread panic with many listeners believing the play to be news reports of actual events!

Hopefully the audiences at the Dominion Theatre will not be as paniced!

Link to the musical –

There are several more musicals now showing in London, or coming soon to London’s Theatreland soon that have their roots in literature – can you spot them all in our pages?

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