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Get reading: Six novels that have been adapted for the stage

If one of your new year's resolutions was to read more, then this list may be just what you're looking for

By • London

So one of your new year's resolutions was to read more, but how can you possibly fit in reading whilst getting your theatre fix too?

Don't worry we've got it under control, here are six novels that have been adapted for the stage and currently showing in London. Dig out that bookmark, put the kettle on and sit back with one of these little beauties.


1. American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis

Tickets have sold out for this new musical based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, but we are pretty sure that it will end up transferring to the West End. So in the meantime get the book and maybe even watch the film, before you know it you'll be watching Matt Smith show off his business card whilst hacking someone to death with his jazz hands.

American Psycho Fact: In the novel, Elizabeth gives Patrick Bateman the nickname "Batman". Christian Bale who played Bateman in the film went on to play Batman in the Dark Knight trilogy.


2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

The first of two Roald Dahl novels in this list, it's hard to believe that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory first hit the shelves in 1964 (in the US, 1967 in the UK). Two film adaptations saw Gene Wilder play Willy Wonka in 1971 and Johnny Depp take the helm in 2005. The musical (which is nominated for several WhatsOnStage Awards) premiered last year with Douglas Hodge playing the famous factory owner.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Fact: Comedian Spike Milligan was Dahl's first choice to play Wonka, his second choice was Ron Moody, who had just starred as Fagin (another dubious role model for naughty children) in the film Oliver!


3. Matilda - Roald Dahl

Matilda appeared on our bookshelves much later than Charlie Bucket, more than 10 years later in fact, published in 1988 and adapted to film in 1996.

A musical version of the novel, written by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin and commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, premiered in November 2010. This version is also nominated for Best West End Show in the WhatsOnStage Awards.

Matilda Fact: Roald Dahl based many of his most famous characters on people he knew in real life. Miss Trunchbull was inspired by a duo of scary people from his days at St. Peter's Prep from 1925-1929. The Matron of the school "disliked small boys very much indeed," he said, and the Headmaster wasn't afraid to use his cane on students.


4. The Commitments - Roddy Doyle

The Commitments, originally called The Partitions, is a novel by Irish writer Roddy Doyle published in 1987. A tale about a group of unemployed young people in the north side of Dublin, Ireland, who start a soul band. The novel was adapted for film in 1991 and for stage in 2013, currently playing at the Palace Theatre and starring WhatsOnStage nominee Killian Donnelly.

The Commitments Fact: Despite initially looking to hire another writer to write the book for the musical, Doyle ended up writing the show himself.


5. From Here to Eternity - James Jones

Loosely based on Jones' experiences in the pre-World War II Hawaiian Division's 27th Infantry, From Here to Eternity was a best-seller and well known for its successful movie adaptation.

Nominated for four WhatsOnStage awards, the production premiered in the West End in 2013 with music and lyrics by Stuart Brayson and Tim Rice and a book by Bill Oakes.

From Here to Eternity Fact: The novel as we know it today is a heavily censored version of the original, after Jones' publisher removed a large amount of profanity and references to gay prostitiution. The uncensored version was published in 2011, some 60 years after it was initially released.


6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

Collapsing ceilings aside, Mark Haddon's novel about a 15-year-old boy with an autistic spectrum condition has won more than 17 literary awards, including the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, sold more than 10 million copies and grossed £14 million in 2004 alone.

The National Theatre's acclaimed production won Best Play in the 2013 WhatsOnStage Awards and it's lead actor, Mike Noble, is currently nominated for Best Actor in a Play in this years awards.

Whilst the production waits to move into the Gielgud in June, why not take the opportunity to read the book if you haven't done so already!

Curious Incident Fact: When asked about Christopher's illness in the book, Haddon has said, "I wish I'd never allowed the publishers to put the word ‘Asperger's' on the cover of Curious Incident. It became an issue book, and I found myself repeatedly saying: it's not really about Asperger's, it's about difference. It's about acceptance of others. It's about that sidelong, Martian view of the world."


Do you have any favourite books that have been adapted for the stage? What books would you like to see adapted in the future?

Tags: Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryMatildaThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeFrom Here to EternityAmerican PsychoTheatreThe CommitmentsReadingBooks


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