Broadway Reading List

By: Lauren Hufford & Amelia Manley

We thought it would be fun to put together a little reading list for other book and theater enthusiasts, so here are some memorable shows that started out as books.


Les Misérables is a French novel by Victor Hugo that was published in 1862. The musical version debuted in 1980 in Paris and lyrics were written by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer with music by Claude-Michel Schӧnberg.


Fiddler on the Roof was inspired by a series of stories by Sholem Aleichem. The stories center around Tevye and his five daughters, their Jewish and cultural traditions, and the eviction of Jews from their village. In 1964 the stories were transformed into a musical by Jerry Bock, for music; Sheldon Harnick, for lyrics; and Joseph Stein for the book.


The String of Pearls: A Romance was a penny dreadful serial in 1846 and 1847 written by James Malcom Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest and was put into book form in 1850. It follows the antagonist of the story, Sweeney Todd. In 1973 the serial was transformed into a play by Christopher Bond titled Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 1979 it debuted as a musical thriller. Music and lyrics were written by Stephen Sondheim and the book by Hugh Wheeler.


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was an American children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. Baum wrote the lyrics and book for the 1902 Musical version of his book and the music was written by Paul Tiejens. The well-known film version of the story came about in 1939.


Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West written by Gregory Maguire in 1995, adapted from L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Maguire created a revisionist view of the Land of Oz and the characters within, making this novel more suited for an adult audience. Wicked the musical premiered on Broadway in 2003 with lyrics and music by Stephen Schwartz.


The original story of Christine Daaé first appeared in a serial in Le Gaulois 1909-1910, written by Gaston Leroux. Then story was later adapted into a novel volume in 1910 named le Fantôme de l’Opéra, which was later adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his 1986 musical with lyrics by Charles Heart and Richard Stilgoe.


Matilda, a precocious 5-year-old with the gift of telekinesis and a love of reading, originally came from the 1988 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. With music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin, Matilda the musical made its West End premiere in 2011, winning seven Olivier awards. It premiered on Broadway in 2013.


Camelot is based upon T.H. White’s four part book The Once and Future King, written in 1958. The original 1960 production ran for 873 performance racking up four Tony awards with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.


The hustling and bustling Story of Sky Masterson originated from the short stories by Damon Runyon “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure.” The Guys and Dolls music and lyrics were written by Fran Loesser with the musical premiering in 1950. This also spawned a 1955 movie adaptation starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.


Mary Poppins started with eight children’s books written by P.L. Travers from 1934 to 1988. The series was adapted into a musical film by Walt Disney in 1964. From there it was adapted again into a 2004 musical by Cameron Mackintosh, with music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers. The movie Saving Mr. Banks (2013) was also inspired by the bewitching nanny, but it focused on the writer of the series, P.L. Travers.

2 thoughts on “Broadway Reading List

  1. I have seen some of these musicals live like Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Mis.

    I think the adaption of Wicked as a musical works better as a musical because the storyline is more family friendly and home to a better message and the characters are easier to emotionally connect to.

    The musical of Les Mis is faithful to its novel. Both works are masterpieces in their own way, both are inspirational and covered with emotions. There may be slight characterization differences, but still faithful to each other.

    As for Phantom of the Opera, I only saw the musical and loved it for its haunting, but beautiful nature. But never plan to read the book only because of knowing it is more gothic and terrifying and would not rather not read a book like that.

    I love the way musicals tell a story due to the combination of songs, dance, and spectacle. Those elements help you get full integrated into the plot especially in the musicals that you fall in love with and form an emotional connection to.


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