Five books turned theater performances

Graphic by Noemi Gonzalez.

Graphic by Noemi Gonzalez.

I am always so fascinated by the idea that someone’s artistic idea can inspire and transform into other media. This is often the case with songs influencing new songs, plays inspiring movies and even paintings spurring on movies.

One of my favorites is when a book becomes a movie. That is the world I grew up in; it’s such a hit-or-miss enterprise, but it’s an exciting thought. Whenever I read a book I love, I think, “Man, this would be a great movie.”

Even more powerful, is when a book becomes a play or musical. When a novel is transformed into a movie, we are able to see close-up emotions and impressive angles. With theater, the emotions are raw and pure, night after night on stage. The set isn’t as put together as a movie, but it leaves just enough room for your imagination.

 

 

Below, I am counting down my top five favorite books turned play (or musical):

5. Frankenstein

I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the actual show online, but this show is haunting and amazing from what I could see. The original novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley juxtaposes clear-cut characters with ambiguously motivated ones. I think this adds to the allure of creating a stage show of it. Also, I know how we all feel about Benedict Cumberbatch.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird

Watching Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” onstage is to be filled with absolute love and pain. There’s a peace and calm that emanates from the stage, but the injustice can be felt brewing underneath the bright and happy lighting.

3. The Color Purple

My very first ASU experience was assisting backstage in preparations for a showing of “The Color Purple,” the beautiful novel by Alice Walker. The music makes you want to dance, and that same sense of activism, and life, permeates the entire show.

2. The Phantom of the Opera

Ladies and gentlemen, I did not expect to find a full video of the Royal Albert Hall “Phantom of the Opera” performance, but I have. And I may die happy. The novel, originally written in French by Gaston Leroux, was transformed into a musical of epic proportions. The music pierces straight into your heart, and the staging is dusty (in a pretty way) and beautiful.

1. Les Miserables

In 2011, I had the privilege of seeing “Les Miserables” at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. I cried. The book is about the people, their struggles and their redemption. The play honors those concepts with a large ensemble and wonderful music. It was a night I will never forget, and it is a musical that I hope will live on for generations.

Let me know your favorite book turned play (or even your favorite novel turned movie) at arabusa@asu.edu or on Twitter @marie_eo!