The Best Movie-to-Musical Theater Adaptations

Ever since the 1940s, critics have been predicting the death of the movie musical. What they didn’t see coming was the movies-turned-musicals phenom and how big it would become (or just how much we’d love seeing our fave flicks in live action). Behold our essential list of Broadway and off-Broadway shows—including must-sees for your next trip to the theater.

mean girls pink
Mean Girls

‘mean Girls’ (2017)

See the Broadway musical version of comedy goddess Tina Fey’s 2004 cult film classic. Grab your girl gang and head straight to the theater for the ultimate TBT show. It’s a night of comedic genius with a stage so pink, it makes Pepto-Bismol seem beige. Finally, “fetch” is going to happen!

grey gardens
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‘grey Gardens’ (2006)

The first Broadway show based on a documentary film, this play drew raves for its portrayal of the complex mother-daughter relationship and took on the lives of two eccentric women living in a crumbling East Hampton mansion.

the producers
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‘the Producers’ (2001)

Comedy legend Mel Brooks’s satirical 1967 film became a Broadway smash, winning 12 Tony Awards and running for thousands of performances. If you didn’t catch it on Broadway, do yourself a favor and watch the 2005 film to see the magical chemistry between Nathan Lane’s bumbling theatrical producer and Matthew Broderick’s witless accountant.

the lion king
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‘the Lion King’ (1997)

Based on the animated 1994 Disney classic, this production is constantly touring globally. The puppets-based story of lion cub Simba’s struggles on the African savanna was a major cultural moment when it debuted–it won six Tony awards including Best Musical. It went on to earn more than a billion dollars.

beauty and the beast
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‘beauty And The Beast’ (1993)

Disney’s hit 1991 animated musical about an enchanted prince became 1994’s Broadway phenomenon, with costume designer Ann Hould-Ward winning a Tony for effectively bringing the magic of animation into the real world. (For example, Belle’s ballgown weighed 45 pounds and had to be hoisted off her and stored in the rafters.)

little shop of horrors
Danny Martindale / Getty Images

‘little Shop Of Horrors’ (1982)

A low-budget 1960 film about a human-eating plant became an Off-Broadway hit in 1982. In 1986, the film was remade, directed by Frank Oz. Then the show returned to the stage, debuting on Broadway in 2003. The wacky story, small cast and catchy tunes make this darkly funny story a favorite high school musical production.

dana dickey
Dana Dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...
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