Ten Movies That NEED To Be Stage Musical Adaptations (And Yes, Most Of Them Are Animated)

Patrick Connolly

The Nightmare Before Christmas—It’s impossible to describe why it needs to go to Broadway in a paragraph without heading into “rant territory”. So in order to control my temper, the best way to describe why it’s on this list would be to jot down the many, many things that make it absolutely appropriate for Broadway.


--Halloween AND Christmas
--Seasonal classic status
--Jack Skellington. Can you imagine the guy playing the role?
--What’s This? What’s THIS? WHAT? IS? THIS?
--The set design. I mean, good lord, just think about it.
--The costume and make-up designers. They would go absolutely, positively bonkers with it.
--Oh, and did I mention DANNY. GENIUS. ELFMAN???

I’m sure I’m missing a lot, so please, leave your thoughts about it in the comment section.

Anyways, moving on.

Cats Don’t Dance—You’ve probably never heard of this film, and sadly, it’s because this film isn’t as popular as other animated films made in its era. It should have been, honestly, and I believe this film would be adapted into a killer musical production for the stage. Aside from the film being an enormous part of my childhood (and even that sounds like an understatement, if you ask me), the film has plenty of qualities that make it all set for Broadway. For one thing, the title alone pretty much sells itself; it almost sounds like a title for an upcoming Cole Porter production—a title that would have probably been released after Kiss Me Kate’s departure on Broadway. There’s an old fashioned musical sensibility this film has that would be easily translatable for the stage. And honestly, how awesome would it be to see “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” performed on the stage? It would blow audiences away with each performance. A few songs would have to be tweaked in order to make it even more entertaining, but it could easily be doable. 

The Prince of Egypt—I don’t know if they’re going with the plan to put this on Broadway once the One-Act starring Norm Lewis is finished, so that’s why this is on the list. But good lord, do I want this to be on Broadway so much. This would be a PERFECT fit for it. I can imagine how absolutely awesome it would be to stage the sequence with Moses parting the Red Sea. And my word, how unspeakably beautiful would it be to hear those songs performed; if it’s how I envision it to be, I can imagine Norm Lewis perfecting “Through Heaven’s Eyes” to its ultimate potential. Though maybe that’s because Norm Lewis and Brian Stokes Mitchell both have incredibly similar voices to me. I don’t know. And my oh my, how the audiences would be BLOWN AWAY by how “The Plagues” is constructed for the stage. It would be a sight to see. Overall, I would LOVE to see this get the Broadway treatment. Stephen Schwartz would be most certainly be pleased.

Rushmore—This is the most unique choice on the list for me, considering that a.) the film is not animated and b.) I’d never thought I would be putting something like this on the list in the first place. Yet, here we are. I saw this film a few years ago, and not only do I think it is my favorite of Wes Anderson’s filmography; I also am quite surprised that this film hasn’t gotten the stage treatment yet.  Some of the film focuses on Max Fischer’s skills as a playwright, and we actually get to see Fischer’s productions come to life right before our eyes. I could imagine somebody like Tim Minchin—the songwriter for Matilda the Musical—writing the songs for the musical; there’s something about the quirkiness of the material that would feel very suitable for Minchin’s style. Wellp, here’s hoping this film gets its due.

The Polar Express—You would think that a classic story like The Polar Express would get its due for the Broadway Stage by now, wouldn’t it? Apparently not. Some say that it would be a rather impossible feat to put a story like this on stage, but much like Julie Taymor’s astounding vision for The Lion King, a little bit of strong imagination goes a long way in the end. Sure, you may need more of a budget than usual, but it could lead to many, many rewards. Drawing inspiration from Chris Van Allsburg’s beautiful illustrations wouldn’t hurt either (was that a pun illustrated with intent?), but providing your own vision for how to make the magic happen would be essential. Yes, you would definitely use some of Alan Silvestri’s beautiful songs and compositions (“When Christmas Comes To Town” is my personal favorite song from the film), but writing brand new original songs that could become the next “Christmas Song” or “Have Yourself A Little Merry Christmas” would be as incredible as hearing the ringing bells of Santa’s sleigh. As Mr. Groban once sang, you have everything you need if you just believe.

Cars—Okay. I know what you’re thinking: CARS?? A MUSICAL ABOUT CARS?? YOU’RE INSANE. And….well, yeah I normally am insane, so that’s not necessarily a critique against my personality. But here’s the thing: about a few months ago, I had this rather crazy vision for a musical adapted from the 2006 hit PIXAR film; coincidentally, I read an article on this blog that talked about how more musical events should be performed in an arena-style theater, and this made my vision for a musical adaptation come sparking like fireworks in my head. If there ever is to be a production of Cars someday, it should be held in an arena-style theater structured similarly to Daytona Speedway (although not EXACTLY like a speedway as the actors would be too far away, but you get the jist). The actors performing as the car characters would be wearing uniquely designed roller skates that would look like wheels, as well as puppeteering the movements for the car’s eyes and mouths. It would also stay true to the film’s soundtrack, with songs by Randy Newman, James Taylor, and the works, as well as original songs that are created for the musical. So yes, I hear ya: the idea sounds crazy, but sometimes, greatness comes from crazy.

Enchanted—Alan Menken + Stephen Schwartz’s Songs + An Affectionate Spoof on Disney Fairy Tales = An Unqualified Success. So why hasn’t it gotten the stage treatment yet? Granted, it could be because that the whole concept of fairy tale characters entering the real world has been DONE TO DEATH, but there’s something unique about Enchanted that would be a perfect fit for the stage. Disney would have a ton of fun with making this musical literally come into a reality, and I’m sure there would be plenty of actors who could be great choices for characters such as Giselle, Prince Edward, Robert, and many others. Heck, you could probably get back Amy Adams for a reprise of Giselle if you had the chance, but I don’t know. Regardless, this would be an incredibly fun musical to put on a stage, and much like the others on this list, it could very well be accomplished.

The Princess and the Frog—What the majority of the world’s population thinks about Frozen—or at least, thought about it, before it became a target for pure backlash—is practically what I think of this film. In my opinion, it is EVERYTHING that Disney strives to stand for—something that looks at the past with great fondness while also looking forward with a sense of progressiveness. Much like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I have been waiting and waiting patiently for this film to receive the stage treatment it rightfully deserves. Again, some of the songs would have to be a little longer in order to fit the quota as a legitimate Broadway musical, but that could be done in a matter of minutes. And much like the film, it would be a complete feast for the senses. Similar to the oh-so-amazing opening of The Lion King, I could just imagine band players walking down the aisles and onto the stage during something like “Down In New Orleans”. I have waited so long for a musical adaptation of this brilliant film, and I’ll continue to do so until that wonderful day arrives.

21 Jump Street—With musicals such as Monty Python’s Spamalot and Something Rotten becoming successes on Broadway, audiences seem to love shows that parody other works of art. So why not something like 21 Jump Street? As adapted from the film directed by self-aware comedic duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, It already has the material to claim itself as a legitimate parody, and a lot of fun could be had by parodying the contemporary musical comedy (coincidentally, the contemporary musical comedy parodies other classic musicals; that would mean 21 Jump Street would be that rare parody that parodies parodies. I can only imagine how 21 Jump Street would pay homage to The Book of Mormon with a number dedicated to Korean Jesus). Musicals such as 21 Jump Street would continue the tradition of parodying musicals, but do so in a way that would still feel unique for the Broadway stage. I’m telling ya: Korean Jesus needs to have his due.

And finally, just because we need a little more humor in the world…

Jurassic Park—Because singing and tap-dancing dinosaurs, that’s why.

Let me know what movies you think deserve to be adapted into musicals in the comment section below!