(Raven Snook’s article appeared in Publishers Weekly, 4/5.)

What does it take to translate a literary work into a play or musical? Step one: find the right source material

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s musicalization of Roald Dahl’s 1988 children’s novel Matilda has racked up a slew of theater awards across the pond and continues to be a West End blockbuster. This month, a New York City production opens on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre and expectations are high, both in terms of reviews and revenue. As big-budget Broadway family fare goes, Matilda is a bit of a rarity. With a few notable exceptions like last season’s Peter and the Starcatcher, the majority of shows on the Great White Way that are seen as good for kids tend to be inspired by fairy tales (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), films (The Lion King, Newsies), comics (Annie, Spider-Man), or vintage stories (The Secret Garden), not more recent children’s books. But for off-Broadway, regional, and British theaters aimed at family audiences, page-to-stage is all the rage. Here, we look at three U.S. companies that specialize in bringing children’s literature to life, and examine a pair of recent U.K.-born hits.


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