Broadway superfan? While books and musicals are completely different experiences, there are some great stories performed on stage that started out as reading material. Musicals are typically enjoyed in a loud theater with a group of people, but books can feel more personal and are a way to dive a bit deeper into an already beloved story.
Books are always going to be slightly different than their musical counterparts, but the essence of the story is still the same, and you can start to view the characters in a more profound way through spending more than two hours with them. And it doesn’t hurt that enjoying these books only requires a library card rather than a trip to New York and expensive tickets.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Wicked has been an immensely popular musical since it’s Broadway premiere in 2003. The play, a revisionist history of The Wizard of Oz that follows the green-skinned Elphaba, who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West, is based on the first novel in a series by Gregory Maguire. Maguire’s takes on fairy tales are fun yet slightly creepy, and Wicked walks the reader through extensive detail about Elphaba’s childhood. It also dives deep into political allegories that are a bit darker than the musical. So why not take a break from our current climate and spend a bit of time in a magical one instead?
Of course, the book was also based on a movie, which was based on a book, so go back and read L. Frank Baum’s original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz when you’re done!
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo’s classic novel inspired the Broadway hit. Les Misérables isn’t a read for the faint of heart—it’s a long read that will probably last you all winter (unless you go with the abridged version which is also highly regarded). But reading about Jean Valjean’s plight seems like the perfect thing to do on a chilly day.
You may be surprised at how unlikeable some of your beloved musical characters are in the book. (For example, the young revolutionary and Cosette’s love interest, Marius, is less than a charmer, and the innkeepers, the Thénardiers, are pretty terrifying) but it’s interesting to see the ways in which the complicated relationships between characters are later brought to life through music. If you love the book, complete the trifecta by watching the recent film adaptation with Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman!
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhorn
Okay, so the musical Anastasia is technically based on the animated movie. But I Was Anastasia is the perfect book to read if you’re obsessed with all things Romanov and can’t get enough of the newer musical’s soundtrack. The book follows the tale of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the grand duchess and contrasts her story with that of the real Anastasia. The book jumps around in history and tries to answer the question of what really happened to Anastasia Romanov, although the ending isn’t quite as uplifting as the musical’s. It’s the perfect page-turner for history buffs or anyone with a fascination with real-life princesses.
So what’s holding you back? Stream your soundtrack of choice, and get to reading!