Over the years a whole host of musicals have been adapted into films for the big screen. 2021 has been no exception. In fact, 2021 has seen more movie-musical adaptations than usual.
To coincide with the release of Dear Evan Hansen in UK cinemas this week, we’ve put together our list of the 10 best musical to movie adaptations we’ve seen so far this millennium:
1. Dreamgirls (2006)
Adapted from the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name, Dreamgirls is a multi-award-winning film that takes strong inspiration from the history of Motown Records and its most successful act, The Supremes.
Starring Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls explores themes of ambition, hope and betrayal in the glamorous and competitive world of the entertainment industry. Although somewhat dark at times, Dreamgirls is a glamourous, stylish, star-studded affair from start to finish that features classic songs such as “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” and “One Night Only”.
The film won 2 Academy Awards and 3 Golden Globe Awards in 2007 – proof that Dreamgirls is one of the best movie-musicals around.
2. Les Misérables (2012)
One of the most popular musicals of all time, Les Misérables premiered at London’s Barbican Theatre in October 1985. Today, the London theatre production holds the title for being the longest running musical on the West End.
A modern classic, the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman and Helena Bonham Carter, is an epic exploration of social injustice and redemption in 19th century France. Les Mis is a ‘sung-through’ musical that features Anne Hathaway’s Oscar-award-winning rendition of I Dreamed a Dream.
In total, Les Misérables won 3 Golden Globe Awards, 3 Academy Awards and 4 BAFTAs. It’s definitely worth a watch!
3. Chicago (2002)
Chicago is a 2002 American movie-musical that’s based on the musical of the same name. The original Chicago Broadway production opened in 1975 and ran for 936 performances until 1977. The show relaunched on Broadway in 1996 and currently holds the record for the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.
Chicago tells the story of nightclub sensations Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart who find themselves in jail together during 1920s America. The film explores themes of scandal, celebrity and corruption during the Jazz Age and features showstopping musical numbers such as Razzle Dazzle and All That Jazz, which are embedded throughout the film.
It’s a great film to watch if you can’t make it to London to catch the stage show.
4. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)
The film adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie was only released in September this year, but it’s already become a firm favourite with many musical theatre fans. In fact, the original stage show is still relatively new, premiering on London’s West End only 4 years ago in 2017.
The film tells the inspiring and heart-warming story of Jamie New, a young boy from Sheffield who dreams of becoming a drag queen, despite his father’s disdain. With its feelgood message of acceptance and empowerment, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is bound to become a teen cult classic.
5. In the Heights (2021)
The theatre production of In the Heights made its Broadway debut in March 2008 with music and lyrics written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The stage show went on to win 4 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. released a film adaptation of the musical, which earned $11.5 million at the box office on its opening weekend.
The film tells the story of the predominantly Dominican neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York City, where members of the community pursue their dreams of a better life. Under the sparkle and pizzazz of the catchy musical numbers, In the Heights is a socially engaged, issue-led drama. The film holds an approval rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and Variety magazine named the film “a blast”, so it’s definitely worth a watch.
6. Hairspray (2007)
Hairspray is a 2007 musical comedy film based on the 2002 Broadway musical of the same name. The production was so successful it won 8 Tony Awards in 2003, including one for Best Musical.
Set in 1960s Baltimore, Hairspray tells the story of dance-loving teenager Tracy Turnblad as she auditions for a spot on a TV talent contest. In between the catchy songs and big hairstyles, the film tackles difficult subjects such as discrimination and racism, which can still be seen in society today. This may be why seeing Tracy and her friends triumph over these prejudices still resonates with audiences across the world today.
7. Dear Evan Hansen (2021)
Dear Evan Hansen is a 2021 American coming-of-age film that’s based on the 2015 stage musical of the same name. At the 71st Tony Awards Dear Evan Hansen was nominated for 9 awards and won 6, including Best Musical. The show’s success led to a film adaptation being produced, which premieres today in the UK.
Dear Evan Hansen centres on an isolated high-school student as he tries to find understanding and belonging in the hyperconnected world that we now live in. In the end, it’s the films faith in the transformative power of love that leaves viewers feeling hopeful and uplifted. Forbes magazine praised the film as an “engaging and entertaining passion play” – proof that it’s worth a watch.
8. Mamma Mia! (2008)
Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical based on the songs of ABBA. The musical debuted in 1999 and a film adaptation was released in 2008 starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Julie Walters.
Mamma Mia!’s plot centres on classic themes of growing older, raising children, maintaining bonds of friendship and reconciling with the past. It does so by stringing together some of the most successful songs in pop music history, drawing viewers in and inciting happiness. The film also features the idyllic sun-drenched backdrop of Greece – what’s not to love?
9. Into the Woods (2014)
Into the Woods, a Stephen Sondheim musical that intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, debuted on Broadway in 1987. The musical film adaptation, featuring Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt amongst others, premiered in 2014.
Well-known characters such as Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Prince Charming and Little Red Riding Hood appear within the film. Between them common themes of life, love and loss emerge. Into the Woods is a beautiful, clever, frequently funny, sometimes sombre, and ultimately uplifting take on classic fairy tales. There really is something for everyone.
10. Annie (2014)
Annie is a Broadway musical based on the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie. The theatre production opened on Broadway in 1977 and inspired 3 musical-movie reproductions. The latest film adaptation premiered in 2014 and features Cameron Diaz in her final film role.
The film sees Annie, a lively young orphan, trying to make her way in life and escape her troubled upbringing. As an outsider, having and holding on to hope through life’s ups and downs is what Annie is all about and it’s a theme everyone can relate to.
Tick, tick… Boom! (Lin-Manuel Miranda) – 12th November 2021
West Side Story (Steven Spielberg) – 10th December 2021