Whether you were in your school’s production of Les Misérables, proudly call yourself a Renthead, bow down to Sondheim, or play Hamilton noooon-stop, we can all agree that musicals are magical. Awesome attire, dance moves for days, and who doesn’t love listening to that cast recording on repeat?
But you know what else is equally as magical as a musical? A freaking book. More specifically, a freaking young adult book. So our question is this: why haven’t producers been looking to adapt any YA books for Broadway? Sure there have been plenty books adapted in song and dance (even American Psycho got its own musical!) but one literary genre that has been sorely overlooked for the adaptation world is YA. Okay? NOT OKAY. NOT OKAY AT ALL. To rectify this, we have put together a list of some young adult novels we think would make absolutely stellar musicals. WORK.
1. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Considering how High School Musical proved high school to be good setting for breaking out into song, and adding in how freaking adorable and honest this book is, it’s almost a crime if we never get to see a musical version of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda! The theater is already a setting in this book plus we need a song about Oreos stat.
2. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
As another beautifully honest book about Willowdean, a fat and fabulous girl who enters her hometown’s beauty pageant. Dumplin’ is practically a musical as is. The sets could be the high school, the fast food joint, Harpy’s, and the pageant itself. Can you imagine the fabulous pageant costumes? All those mums! There could be musical versions of Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls, Dolly Parton’s Jolene and 9 to 5 and we can totally picture the lead song being called “If you’ve got it. Flaunt it.”
3. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
With wacky 1500s customs, those jaw-droppingly gorgeous gowns, and the plentiful laughs in this hilarious, fictional version of Lady Jane Grey’s teen years, this book needs to be made into a musical stat! My Lady Jane would basically be like the TV show Galavant in its humor and musical stylings (seriously watch this video if you are unfamiliar with this vastly underrated show.) Basically, we just want Mel Brooks to write all of the song numbers.
4. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Could you imagine a musical that was a mix of Center Stage and Black Swan and Pretty Little Liars? There are already stages to perform on, not to mention drama aplenty, in this raw tale of what it’s like to compete at a prestigious ballet school. Just add some songs to the cuter moments, and heart wrenching ones, and the Tiny Pretty Things musical would be a hit no doubt!
5. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Keeping in mind that Cruel Beauty is a sexy and dark Beauty and the Beast retelling––and that was already a musical––adapting this to the stage wouldn’t be hard at all. It would be so beautiful with the same actor really testing his skills by playing both Ignifex and Shade.
6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Cinder is another case of a fairytale retelling, this time for Cinderella, that would lend itself well to a musical adaptation. I’m not sure what I’d want to see more: complex high-tech sets depicting New Beijing, a feisty, over the top performance from the evil Queen Levanna, or a grounded, tear jerker from our beloved cyborg mechanic, Cinder. Oh and we think the music should all be written by Daft Punk.
7. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Meet the residents of Ketterdam. The leads in Six of Crows will sing and dance for you while robbing you of everything you own. Can’t you imagine this clearly? Kaz on stage asking, “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?” *music starts*
🎶””Knife to the throat?”
“Gun to the back?”
“Poison in his cup?”🎶
8. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
This A Thousand and One Nights YA retelling deserves to be adapted for those lush, alluring desert settings alone. Romance? Check. Drama? Scimitar sword fights? Of course! Not to mention how mesmerizing it would be to hear Shahrzad’s nightly tales in musical form.
9. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
In this phenomenally funny graphic novel, as sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Who else thinks Sir Goldenloin would try to sing just a little bit louder than everyone else? Plus, a comedic duet between Nimona and Lord Blackheart is everything we never knew we needed in life.
10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
This angels and demons fantasy set in Prague could potentially be the most elaborate and artistic stage production of all time. Plus, Karou and Zuzana would absolutely slay in sassy musical performances! No need to mention Akiva, don’t all angels have heavenly voices? And we’re already dying to see the costumes and makeup needed to pull off the chimaera.
11. The Selection by Kiera Cass
Singer isn’t just a last name for America in The Selection series, that girl has a set of pipes perfect for the stage. This young adult dystopian version of The Bachelor would have a massive cast and so many opportunities for large group dance numbers. There would be more poofy ball gowns in this than in The King and I!
12. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
There have already been a few versions of The Wizard of Oz to successfully hit the stage, so adapting this Wizard of Oz retelling where Dorothy is now the ridiculously evil dictator of Oz is a no brainer. With the action and stakes raised quite a bit this time around, Dorothy Must Die is potential Tony material! (If you want to see a version of this book brought to life, check out this AMAZING video we produced.)
13. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
We’d like to see this book about a bunch of teen beauty contestants who crash land on an island in any sort of adaptation. The entire Beauty Queens set will just be a rotating island so we can get musical numbers and dance sequences on the beach, in the jungle, the pirate ship, etc. We can’t wait for that all-girl opening number where they sing about being stranded without their hairspray. Dear John Waters, please make this into a musical right now!
14. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park is set in the 80s, so the costumes and music are practically there already. The entire soundtrack could be versions of songs by The Smiths and instead of CDs being sold at the concession stand it’d be cassette tapes. It would have three settings: the bus, Eleanor’s home, Park’s home. Ending: Park reads the postcard and opens his mouth to speak. Curtains up.
15. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
The Crown’s Game is set in Imperial Russia so right away we can picture the stage featuring lots of deep, rich colors and swirling patterns reminiscent of St. Basil’s cathedral and just think of the elegant, glittering, romantic costumes! They could even model some of the sets off the 2012 Anna Karenina movie starring Keira Knightley!
What other YA books do you think would make great musicals? Share your suggestions with us in the comments below!