The 25 best film-to-musical adaptations

Our top transfers from the silver screen to the Great White Way.

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  • Silence! The Musical (2005)

    Silence! The Musical (2005)

  • Monty Python's Spamalot (2005)

    Monty Python's Spamalot (2005)

  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982)

    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982)

  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005)

    Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005)

  • Mary Poppins (2004)

    Mary Poppins (2004)

Silence! The Musical (2005)

Silence! The Musical (2005)

25. Silence! The Musical (2005)
Goofy, spoofy adaptations of films that have no business being musicals—Jurassic Park, Debbie Does Dallas, The Evil Dead, etc.—are a staple of the Fringe Festival and other scrappy showcases, and the best of them is this silly-smart takeoff on The Silence of the Lambs (with a book by [title of show]'s Hunter Bell). Good news, singing-cannibal fans! The show will return this summer with most of its original cast—including the hilarious Jenn Harris as sibilant-impaired FBI agent Clarice Starling.—AF

24. Monty Python's Spamalot (2005)
Eric Idle "lovingly ripped off" the classic 1975 comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail by taking a couple of favorite Python tunes—"Knights of the Round Table" from Holy Grail and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from The Life of Brian—and spinning a show around them (with additional songs by him and John DuPrez). Although not as funny or anarchic as the Python original, Spamalot was catnip for the fanboys.—DC

23. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1982)
A wholesome rustic musical predicated on dubious sexual mores—the plot centers on a family of hicks who are civilized by the gals they have kidnapped to marry—this tuneful adaptation of the 1954 movie lasted just five performances on Broadway. But subsequent rewrites have made it a favorite of regional and community theaters, if not women's-studies seminars.—AF

22. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005)
Composer-lyricist David Yazbek's second film-to-musical project adapted the 1988 caper-comedy starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. Taking his cue from the story's Riviera setting, Yazbek wrote a bunch of bouncy, cocktail-hour numbers that borrowed from Europop, swinging big band and brassy show tunes. Henry Mancini's theme to The Pink Panther seemed woven into the DNA of the score. Norbert Leo Butz easily stole the show in the Martin role, bringing the house down with the ode to greed, "Great Big Stuff."—DC

21. Mary Poppins (2004)
Mary Poppins had one of the longer gestation periods on this list. Producer Cameron McIntosh actually secured the rights to the original children's novels from author P.L. Travers in 1993, but it took him several more years to figure out how much to borrow from the books and how much from the iconic 1964 Disney film. Of course, the look and overall plotting of the final show (which retains the beloved Sherman Brothers score) hews very closely Robert Stevenson's vision of enchanted Edwardian London.—DC

Users say

4 comments
David
David

Alright, own up. Who had the putrid taste to think Mamma Mia qualified as good, but that Toxic Avenger should be skipped over? Come on, out with it.

Sandee
Sandee

Oh God, how could I forget: My Fair Lady (from Pygmalion)

Sandee
Sandee

Oh you youg'uns have no sense of history: Oklahoma (from Green Grow the Lilacs) Carousel (from Lilliom) Purlie (from Purlie Victorious) A Little Night Music (from Smiles of a Summer Night) West Side Story (from Romeo and Juliet)