Beyond Hamilton: More Musicals Based on Books

Elizabeth Graney, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Books made to popular musicals
Popular musicals based on books, and the novels that inspired them

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton: An American Musical took the world by storm when it premiered in 2015. Combining American history with modern music styles and traditional period costumes with non-traditional casting, it pioneered a new style of musical. Hamilton’s original Broadway production garnered a record-setting 16 Tony Award nominations and took home 11 of them. In the five years since its premiere, it has had a Broadway run, a Chicago run, three touring productions, and multiple overseas stagings. And, as of July 3, you can stream it from home on Disney+. Have you already watched (and possibly re-watched) it and need more? Or do you not have Disney+ and are itching for some Hamilton content? Either way, we have you covered! The library has plenty of e-books and e-audiobooks related to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical. Written by the man himself, Hamilton the Revolution is the story behind the creation of Hamilton as well as the libretto and behind-the-scenes photos. If you feel like watching rather than reading or listening, we also have an unauthorized documentary detailing how Miranda’s plans came to fruition. Still need more? We’ve got the book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda in the first place. And finally, if you’d like to learn the lyrics to all the beautiful songs, check out the official songbook. And if you’ve gone through all that and still want some musical fun, here are a few other popular musicals based on books, and the novels that inspired them, that you can watch and read with your library card today!

Watch and Read at Home

Book cover for Fiddler On The Roof
Fiddler On The Roof

Fiddler on the Roof, inspired by Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Milkman, tells the story of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman in pre-revolutionary Russia, as he struggles to accept his changing world. When his eldest daughters reject tradition in favor of marrying for love and violence against Jewish villages threatens his home, Tevye must weigh the value of tradition over the happiness and safety of his family. Fiddler on the Roof is a beloved classic that won nine Tony Awards the year it premiered and has had five Broadway revivals. You can watch the classic 1971 film version starring Topol on Hoopla.

Book cover for Into the Woods
Into the Woods

Into the Woods is a musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine based on both Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the fairy tales of Charles Perrault. When a baker and his wife, desperate for a child, approach a witch for help, she sends them on a quest to find four magical items: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, a hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. In retrieving these items, the couple encounter characters from across various fairy tales and find themselves waylaid in their task. As the characters’ stories intertwine, they discover there are consequences to getting what you want and more to life than happily ever after. Watch Bernadette Peters and the rest of the original Broadway cast perform this spectacular musical with your library card today.

Book cover for Les Miserables
Les Miserables

Based on Victor Hugo’s epic tale, Les Miserables is the story of Jean Valjean, a poor man who spent 19 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving child. After his release, Valjean forges a new identity and attempts to begin his life anew but finds himself relentlessly pursued by Inspector Javert for breaking his parole. As the French Revolution boils over around them, Valjean and Javert are caught up in the fight. The original London production of Les Miserables closed in 2019, running for 34 years and over 13,000 performances. You can watch the star-studded special 25th anniversary production today. 

Book cover for Man Of La Mancha
Man Of La Mancha

Inspired by, but not necessarily faithful to, Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha is a play within a play wherein Cervantes is depicted performing the tale of Don Quixote while awaiting trial during the Spanish Inquisition. He enlists his fellow prisoners to reenact the tale of Alonso Quijano, an elderly gentleman obsessed with knights and chivalry who becomes convinced that he is a knight named Don Quixote. As he travels the land with his trusty squire, Sancho Panza, Don Quixote does battle with a four armed giant (a windmill), finds his one true love, Dulcinea (a inn server named Aldonza) and battles his arch nemesis the Enchanter (a priest his family has enlisted to cure him of his delusions.) Man of La Mancha has won five Tony Awards and been revived on Broadway four times since its original 1965 production. Watch the 1972 film version starring Peter O’Toole and Sofia Loren on Hoopla today! 

Book cover for Phantom Of The Opera At The Royal Albert Hall
Phantom Of The Opera At The Royal Albert Hall

The work of Broadway giant Andrew Lloyd Weber, The Phantom of the Opera is the longest running Broadway show of all time and won six Tony Awards the year it premiered, including Best Musical. Based on Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name, it tells the story of the mysterious, disfigured figure known only as the phantom of the opera and his love for ingenue soprano Christine Daaé. With the phantom’s help, Christine rises from chorus girl to main soprano but when she falls in love with another man, the phantom vows revenge. Catch the 25th anniversary special on Hoopla.

Book cover for The Sound Of Music
The Sound Of Music

Based on The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, the memoir of Maria Trapp, The Sound of Music is a family favorite whose songs have become standards. In 1938 Austria, novice nun Maria is sent to act as a governess to the von Trapp household. She soon wins over the severe widower and his seven children. But their happy home is threatened when Captain von Trapp is ordered to join the German Navy and fight for the Nazis. The Sound of Music was written by dynamic duo Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein and won five Tony Awards for its first Broadway production. Watch a live-broadcast production of this beloved musical today!