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Screen-to-Stage Adaptation

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Blank Paper: ...More recently, musicals have been based on movies like My Favorite Year, Footloose, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Big, Saturday Night Fever, The Wedding Singer, The Full Monty, The Producers (inhales) Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hairspray, Beauty and the Beast, Billy Elliot, Spamalot
Jeff: Wow! So movies make good musicals?
Blank Paper: Well, they make musicals.

It's usually the case that hit plays get turned into movies. But more and more nowadays, the opposite is happening, with films being translated for the stage. Some say it's a sign of intellectual bankruptcy in theatre. Hollywood has the same problem, but there are a lot more new successful movies in the last two decades than new successful plays. So the stealing ends up being one way.


These are usually musicals even when they weren't in the first place (see All Musicals Are Adaptations); Adaptation Decay usually occurs here. Movie musicals are also frequently adapted for the stage, and these tend to acquire additional songs in the stage version.

This trope can be taken one step further, by going from movie, to stage musical, to Recursive Adaptation movie-of-the-stage-musical.

Inversion of The Film of the Play.

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    Film musicals adapted for the stage 

    Stage musicals based on non-musical films (original film in parenthesis if necessary) 

    Non-musical stage adaptations of movies 
  • Marcel Pagnol's 1930s "Marseille Trilogy" started with the films adaptations of two plays, Marius and Fanny. Then he wrote a third film, César, in 1936. Said film was adapted into a play in 1946.
  • Calendar Girls: Originally a true story, the tale of a group of WI members' creation of a nude calendar to benefit a local cancer ward was first made into a film, and then the film was adapted by Tim Firth into a stage play.
  • Clue on Stage: A 2018 stage adaptation of the 1985 cult comedy classic (based on the board game), using Jonathan Lynn's original script with alterations done by Hunter Foster, Eric Price, and Sandy Rustin. The stageplay follows the same basic plot and script as the movie, with a few new changes — Mrs. Peacock is now a religious zealot in addition to being the corrupt wife of a senator, Professor Plum's lustful tendencies have been expanded into him now believing himself to be God's gift to women, and — most notably — there are no alternate endings, with the movie's third ending being the only one used here.
  • How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968): The public domain status, and relatively low budget the film had makes it an easy and convincing transfer onto stage.
  • The 39 Steps is a Played for Laughs adaptation of the 1935 film The 39 Steps that uses just four actors! (Although it was originally a novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps.)
  • The Man from Earth
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again: Created for amateur stagings in The '80s, this is a Pragmatic Adaptation that scales down the action but preserves the style and tone of the film.
  • Point Break Live! is a tongue-in-cheek retelling that uses an audience member to fill Keanu Reeves's role (dialogue is provided on cue cards).
  • 12 Angry Men: Technically, it was a play before it was a movie. However, it started as a teleplay on CBS' Studio One program, and the two versions have almost exactly the same script. The movie has an extra, very short, intro scene.

    Stage adaptations from other sources 

Stage musicals based on manga and/or anime (these tend to be series of musicals that follow successive story arcs):

Special Mention

Stage adaptations from other sources:

  • The Addams Family: officially adapted from the original comic strip rather than TV show, though the producers did obtain permission to use the show's famous Theme Tune in the score.
  • Dragnet: stage play based on the famed police procedural franchise adapted by James Reach, using as its story a Locked Room Mystery done on the radio as "The Big Bible" and later on TV as "The Bullet".
  • Happy Days: a New Musical
  • Kingdom Hearts actually has unofficial stage adaptations done in Germany by the performing group Tsuki no Senshi. They did adaptations for the original Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and Kingdom Hearts II.
  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
  • It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman
  • In the 1980s there were two stage adaptations of The BBC Scotland sitcom City Lights, starring the original cast.
  • Doctor Who stage plays include Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday (1974) and Doctor Who — The Ultimate Adventure (1989). The earliest—and possibly Ur-Example—is The Curse of the Daleks, written by Terry Nation and David Whitaker, from 1965. The episode "Midnight" was also adapted to the stage in a small student production.
  • In Japan, some particularly popular games have received screen-to-stage adaptations of their own, such as Persona 4 Visualive, which adapts a chunk of the game's story to stage; and Phantasy Star Online 2 -ON STAGE-, which features an original story based on the game.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants received a Broadway musical, The Spongebob Musical, with a score composed by many famous artists, including Aerosmith, They Might Be Giants, The Flaming Lipsnote , John Legend, Lady Antebellum, and David Bowie.
  • Ensemble Stars! On Stage tends to be a mix of event adaptations and original interquels.
  • Touken Ranbu has both a stage play and a musical.


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