Movies that have been adapted into Broadway musicals
Learn more about all of the movies that have been made into Broadway musicals.
Some of Broadway's most popular musicals all share a common theme: They're based on films. Whether it's a blockbuster hit or an indpendent film, Broadway musicals based on movies often bring a new audience into the theatre, as well as chart-topping hits to the stage. Discover all the movie musicals on Broadway you can see now, as well as recent musicals that have entertained Broadway audiences.
Movie musicals you can see on Broadway right now
Disney took audiences to “A Whole New World” with the 1992 animated film, as Aladdin and Jasmine went on their quests to find true love. The genie must have used one of his wishes on visiting Broadway though, as the stage adapatation of Aladdin premiered at the New Amsterdam Theatre in 2014. Aladdin follows the same storyline as its preceding film; the lovable street urchin Aladdin uses the Genie to win his princess, while Jafar seeks out the throne for himself. Broadway and Disney fans rejoiced together at the new musical additions, including songs like “Proud of Your Boy" and “These Palace Walls”.
A live-action film adaptation of Aladdin was released in 2019, starring Will Smith as the Genie. In turn, it’s popularized the musical once more, with many “Arabian Nights” to come on Broadway.
In 1994, Disney took us to the Serengeti via the silver screen, thanks to The Lion King. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet and with a powerful soundtrack to boot, The Lion King was destined for Broadway. Eventually, The Lion King made its Broadway premiere in 1997 and continues to dominate the Great White Way today.
Both the film and musical share the same storyline; young lion cub Simba journeys through the savannah to become King of the Pride Lands and succeed his father, Mufasa. They also share the same music, with songs such as “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” gaining commercial success outside of the theatre. The Broadway “Circle of Life” isn’t complete without experiencing The Lion King.
The Lion King is currently suspended at the Minskoff Theatre. Get The Lion King tickets on New York Theatre Guide.
Baz Luhrmann’s 1999 movie Moulin Rouge defines opulence. Set in the world-famous Parisian cabaret, audiences gushed over Christian and Satine’s relationship, set to a romantic soundtrack including “Come What May.” It’s not just the acting that wowed us though, the iconic can-can costumes and stunning scenic design went on to win Academy Awards. So, when the stage adaptation of Moulin Rouge: The Musical was announced, the production quickly became one of the most-anticipated musicals of the century. The musical stays true to the film, bringing the Parisian nightlife scene to Broadway. But, there’s an extra sprinkle of Broadway magic in the musical, including over 70 separate pop songs in the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.
Moulin Rouge: The Musical is currently suspended at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Get Moulin Rouge: The Musical tickets on New York Theatre Guide.
From page to film to stage, Mrs. Doubtfire definitely gets around. In the 1993 film, Robin Williams gave an Academy Award-winning performance as the newly divorced Daniel Hillard, who hatched a cunning plan to dress up and be hired as his kids Scottish nanny. After a world premiere in Seattle, Mrs. Doubtfire was due to open on Broadway in 2020, starring Rob McClure. At the moment, the Broadway premiere is postponed, but “help is on the way” to getting Broadway back, thanks to Mrs. Doubtfire.
It’s not just older films that are the inspiration for musical hits. The 2016 indie movie Sing Street was adapted for the stage soon after, premiering at New York Theatre Workshop in 2019. Based on John Carney’s film, the stage production sees Conor, an sixteen-year-old Irish boy discover how music can be an artistic escape. There’s music and lyrics by Carney in the stage show too, with a book by Enda Walsh. After the 2019 premiere, Sing Street was due to open on Broadway in 2020. At the moment, the Broadway premiere is postponed, but we can’t wait for this thrilling musical to be back in New York.
Movie musicals previously seen on Broadway
9 to 5
There was no “stumblin’ to the kitchen” for this Broadway musical. The 1980s workplace drama was perfect Broadway fodder; a group of female employees coming together and standing up for what they believe in was guaranteed to appeal to theatregoers. 9 to 5 opened at the Marquis Theatre in April 2009, with Megan Hilty playing Doralee, the role made famous by Dolly Parton. Receiving dozens of award nominations, the show couldn’t translate them into wins, with 9 to 5 closing in September 2009. Check out our review of 9 to 5.
When The Band’s Visit premiered in 2007, it was praised for its hard-hitting storyline, exploring the relationship between Arabs and Israelis. The Band’s Visit tells of an Egyptian police band ushered to the Israeli desert after a bureaucratic mixup, using their music to inspire a new community. A decade later, the sounds were heard at Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre, winning 10 Tony Awards. The band’s visit wasn’t fleeting though, instead continuing to make music for 18 months. Read our review of The Band's Visit.
It was a beautiful “Day-o” when news of a Beetlejuice musical was announced. Based on the 1980s horror comedy, the musical follows the relationship between Lydia Deetz and a ghost with a penchant for a striped suit. Beetlejuice features songs made famous by the original film, including “Jump In The Line” and “The Banana Boat Song,” as well as new music by Eddie Perfect.
After a world premiere in Washington D.C, theatre fans called “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice” for a Broadway transfer and that’s what happened! Alex Brightman played the striped suit ghost at the Winter Garden Theatre, with Beetlejuice nominated for eight Tony Awards. Sadly, coronavirus forced the musical’s early closure, but this ghost will hopefully be back one day. Read our review of Beetlejuice.
Bring It On: The Musical
Sporting rivalries took center stage in the Broadway premiere of Bring It On: The Musical, based on the 2000 movie. Truman High and Jackson High both want to win a cheerleading trophy, doing whatever it takes to come first. But with rivalries coming off the field, the teams quickly realise what they need to focus on - themselves. After a world premiere in Atlanta, Bring It On transferred to St. James Theatre, only playing for six months. But, the musical did put a certain composer on the map, named Lin-Manuel Miranda. Read our Bring It On review.
Catch Me If You Can
Not all musicals follow the good guy. Inspired by the 2000s crime film starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Catch Me If You Can flew onto the stage, landing on Broadway in 2011. The film and musical’s premises are similar, telling the true stories of Frank Abagnale, the con artist who assumed multiple identities to get by. Broadway audiences wanted to "Live in Living Color" when the musical opened, with reviewers calling Norbert Leo Butz a “song and dance man that makes you want to join the party.” Sadly, Frank Abagnale couldn’t keep up the identities for too long on Broadway, as Catch Me If You Can only ran for six months at the Neil Simon Theatre.
Transforming St. James Theatre into a winter wonderland, audiences walked into Arendelle thanks to the stage adaptation of Frozen. Based on the 2011 Disney animation, the Broadway musical follows a similar story: Anna and Kristoff must rescue their sister Elsa, who runs away after her coronation fearing her powers. There was nothing to fear with Frozen though, especially with anthemic songs like “Let It Go” and “Monster,” written for the musical.Sadly, Frozen is now closed on Broadway. Global productions are still in the works though, including shows in London and Melbourne. Read our review of Frozen.
First came the 1988 musical comedy, making a star out of Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad. Fifteen years later, the stage adaptation of Hairspray came to the Neil Simon Theatre and a contemporary musical classic was born. Set in 1960s Baltimore, Hairspray tackles themes of race, segregation, and identity politics all through a dance show, with newcomer Tracy Turnblad revolutionizing "The Corny Collins Show." Marissa Jaret Winkour made her Tony Award-winning Broadway debut as Tracy, along with Harvey Fierstein as Edna and Matthew Morrison as Link. After the 2003 musical, a new film adaptation of Hairspray was released, lending itself to the musical developments as seen on stage. Nobody can stop the beat when Hairspray comes to town. Read our review of Hairspray.
We all know the infamous gigantic gorilla that causes destruction wherever it goes. So, when the musical adaptation of King Kong came to Broadway, fans went rampant through Manhattan to get their hands on a ticket. Loosely inspired by the 1933 King Kong movie, the musical sees an actress named Ann and a friendly filmmaker try to discover the beast, with Ann and King Kong forming a new friendship.
For the Broadway musical, a company of puppeteers (collectively dubbed the King’s Company) operated Kong’s limbs, but all the technical marvels weren’t enough to keep the eighth wonder of the world on stage. King Kong played for nine months at the Broadway Theatre, but the show “is a visual feast [that] marks a new era of what’s possible.”
Theatre definitely got “so much better” when Legally Blonde came to town. Considered to be one of the greatest female-driven comedies of all time, the 2001 movie follows Elle Woods’s journey to becoming a kick-ass Harvard lawyer. So, when Elle Woods came to Broadway, she immediately became a theatre icon. An original score was added by Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe, with numbers including “Positive” and “Bend and Snap.” There wa even a reality television competition to discover the next Elle Woods. For all the musical’s hype though, the show only ran for 15 months at the Palace Theatre. Read our review of Legally Blonde.
On Broadway, we wear pink. Or at least that’s what Mean Girls does. Based on the 2004 Tina Fey comedy, high school drama becomes synonymous with animals fighting for survival in this Broadway musical, following a naive Cady Heron who just wants to get through high school. Due to the film’s constant popularity, Mean Girls became an instant stage hit of modern times. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has meant that Mean Girls won’t return to the August Wilson Theatre, but the musical definitely made fetch happen. Read our Mean Girls review.
These energetic newspaper boys definitely knew how to “Seize the Day!” Based on the 1992 Disney film, the dramatization of New York City newsboys cartwheeled, flipped and spun its way onto the Nederlander Theatre, with Jeremy Jordan as leader Jack Kelly. Even though it’s a lesser-known Disney movie, Alan Menken’s music weaved its way into our hearts; songs like “Carrying The Banner” and “King of New York” featured on the Tony Award-winning score. But, just like the ever changing news stories, Broadway shows change too, with Newsies closing in 2014. Read our Newsies review.
Julia Roberts and Richard Gere gave iconic performances in the nineties romcom Pretty Woman as Vivian and Edward. So, when audiences finally stepped onto Rodeo Drive via the Nederlander Theatre in Pretty Woman: The Musical, excitement was in the air. Staying true to the original movie, the musical features a book by Pretty Woman screenplay and director Garry Marshall & J.F. Lawton, with new music by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Pretty Woman didn’t make a big… no… huge… impact on Broadway though, closing after a year. Read our Pretty Woman review.
Musicals tend to focus on hopeful, heartwarming stories with endearing characters. Not The Producers though. The Mel Brooks storyline sees a theatre producer and his accountant create the worst musical known to man. Its Broadway adaptation was laden with industry jokes, as well as gags and stereotypical caricatures which ensured it stood out from all other musicals. So much so, The Producers broke theatre records at the time, winning 12 Tony Awards. The Producers also broke St. James Theatre box office records too, showing just how much audiences love their films on stage. Read our The Producers review.
What would you do to score the role of a lifetime? That’s a question that Michael Dorsey asks himself in Tootsie, reinventing himself as actress Dorothy Michaels to keep acting. Coincidentally, the 1982 comedy was also revamped with its Broadway musical adaptation, with Santino Fontana winning his first Tony Award in the lead role. Critics hailed Tootsie an “old-fashioned musical comedy” but the musical only ran at the Marquis Theatre for nine months.
Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 Waitress film was posthumously released, following a young waitress who dreams of a new life. Although Waitress didn’t break any cinema records, its charm made it perfect for adapting into a musical, with Waitress premiering in 2015. An all-female creative team worked on the production including music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. Waitress eventually transferred to Broadway’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre in 2016 and ran for four years, with stars including Todrick Hall, Jordin Sparks, and Jessie Mueller all performing in the musical. Read our Waitress review.
Photo credit: Jacqueline B Arnold, Robyn Hurder, Holly James and Jeigh Madjus (Photo by Matthew Murphy)