Musicals / Plays The Best Plays Based on Books  

Buster McDermott
498 votes 97 voters 11.8k views 38 items

List Rules Vote up the best stage plays that were originally based on a book.

There are a lot of famous movies that were made from plays, but there are a lot of amazing plays that have been based on books. These days, everything seems to be based (even loosely) on something else. But this isn't always a bad thing. Many books lend themselves well to the stage, as evidence by the plays on this list. What are the best plays based on books?

The plays on this list span genres and production styles. They include dramas, comedies, and romances. Did you know that some of the most famous plays in history were based on novels, autobiographies, or other books? It’s no wonder they're on this list since they’re based on stories we all know and love – stories that have actually made a significant impact on the literary world as well as the world of the stage.

The plays listed here have been ranked by the community as the best. This list features the best plays based on books including, Les Miserables, Ben Hur, A Christmas Carol, Young Frankenstein, Kite Runner, Albert Speer, and War Horse. Vote up the best plays based on books below and see where the plays you think are the best rank!
list ordered by

1
41 6
Les Misérables is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Claude-Michel Schönberg, Jean-Marc Natel, Herbert Kretzmer - Based on the book of the same name by Victor Hugo.

2
20 2
Fiddler on the Roof is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Tom Islava added Sheldon Harnick , Jerry Bock , Joseph Stein - Based on the tales by Sholem Aleichem

3
24 4
A Christmas Carol is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
A Christmas Carol Patrick Stewart - Based on the book of the same name by Charles Dickens.

4
15 2
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Tom Islava added Hugh Wheeler , Stephen Sondheim - Based on the penny dreadful "The String of Pearls: A Romance" by James Malcolm Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest

5
11 1
Into the Woods is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Tom Islava added James Lapine , Stephen Sondheim -

Based on the fairy tales of the Brother's Grimm

6
17 6
Crime and Punishment is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Crime and Punishment Marilyn Campbell, Curt Columbus - Based on the book of the same name by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

7
10 1
Cabaret is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Tom Islava added Fred Ebb , John Kander , Joe Masteroff - Based on the novel "Goodbye to Berlin" by Christopher Isherwood

8
17 8
Young Frankenstein is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Irving Berlin , Mel Brooks , Thomas Meehan - Loosely based on the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

9
13 7
The 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Patrick Barlow - Based on the book of the same name by John Buchan

10
11 6
Ben-Hur is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Lew Wallace - Based on the book Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace.

11
12 7
War Horse is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Adrian Sutton , Nick Stafford , John Tams - Based on the book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo.

12
9 4
Man of La Mancha is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Tom Islava added Mitch Leigh , Joe Darion , Dale Wasserman - Based on the book "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes

13
10 7
The Grapes of Wrath is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Frank Galati - Based on the book of the same name by John Steinbeck.

14
9 6
Gigi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Frederic Loewe , Alan Jay Lerner - Based on the book of the same name by Colette.

15
8 5
Educating Rita is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Educating Rita Willy Russell - Loosely based on Greek myth and Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.

16
7 4
Kite Runner is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Kite Runner Matthew Spangler - Based on the book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

17
6 3
Of Mice and Men is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
AmyMaloney added Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

18
4 2
Der Glöckner von Notre Dame is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Tom Islava added James Lapine , Alan Menken , Stephen Schwartz -

Based on the book The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

19
5 4
The Life and Adventures of Nic... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby David Edgar - Based on the book of the same name by Charles Dickens.

20
5 4
The Masquerader is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
The Masquerader John Hunter Booth - Based on the book of the same name by Katherine Cecil Thurston.

21
9 9
Dracula, the Musical is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Christopher Hampton , Don Black , Frank Wildhorn - Based on the book Dracula by Bram Stoker.

22
6 6
Girl With a Pearl Earring is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Girl With a Pearl Earring Tracy Chevalier - Based on the book of the same name by Tracy Chevalier

23
5 5
Travels With My Aunt is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Travels With My Aunt Giles Havergal - Based on the book of the same name by Graham Greene.

24
5 5
The Affair is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
The Affair Ronald Millar - Based on the book of the same name by C.P Snow.

25
4 4
I Never Promised You a Rose Ga... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Joanne Greenberg - Based on the  book of the same name by Joanne Greenberg.

26
3 3
My Life As a 10-Year-Old Boy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
My Life As a 10-Year-Old Boy Nancy Cartwright, Rose Goss - Based on the book of the same name by Nancy Cartwright.

27
5 6
Love, Loss, and What I Wore is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Love, Loss, and What I Wore Delia Ephron, Nora Ephron - Based on the 

28
3 4
A Round-Heeled Woman is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
A Round-Heeled Woman Jane Prowse - Based on the book A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-life Adventures in Sex and Romance by Jane Juska.

29
3 5
Popcorn is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Ben Elton - Based on the book of the same name by Ben Elton.

30
2 4
The Singular Life of Albert No... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs Simone Benmussa - Based on the book of the same name by George Moore

31
2 4
The Secret River is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
The Secret River Andrew Bovell - Based on the book of the same name by Kate Grenville

32
2 4
Jeanie Deans is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Jeanie Deans Dion Boucicault - Based on the book The Heart of Midlothian by Sir Walter Scott.

33
2 4
I Am My Own Wife is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
I Am My Own Wife Doug Wright - Based on I Am My Own Wife by Charlotte von Mahlsdorf

34
3 6
Albert Speer is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Albert Speer David Edgar - Based on the book Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth by Gitta Sereny.

35
2 5
The Pitmen Painters is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
The Pitmen Painters Lee Hall - Based on the book Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group 1934-1984 by William Feaver.

36
2 5
The Green Pastures is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Marc Connelly - Based on the book Ol' Man Adam an' His Chillun by Roark Bradford.

37
2 5
Aristo is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Aristo Martin Sherman - Based on the book Nemesis by Peter Evans

38
1 6
Lombardi is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Plays Based on Books
Lombardi Eric Simonson - Based on the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss.