Celebrating stage and screen this National Cinema Day

Posted on 2 September 2023

To (mis)quote Grease, ‘stage and screen go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong, remembered forever as shoo-bop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom’. Whether it’s a stage to screen adaptation (Guys and Dolls), a screen to stage adaptation (Aladian), a stage on screen production (A Little Life) or a book to film to stage to musical film juggernaut (Matilda) the cinema will always have a place in our hearts (as do the buckets of popcorn, sweets and nachos that will inevitably clog it)

Screen to stage adaptations are almost as iconic as the Hollywood sign itself. Billy Elliot, Hairspray, and An American in Paris are just some of the West End classics that started their lives outside of theatreland and in the multiplex. The two mediums complement each other immensely (Why do you think cinemas are called movie theatres in America?) So, with that in mind we’ve decided to celebrate #NationalCinemaDay with a list of theatre's biggest blockbusters, and cinematic shows we’d love to see.

Current film to stage blockbusters

Mrs Doubtfire

The latest West End screen to stage production, Mrs Doubtfire stole our hearts (and her identity) way back in 1993. Hapless dad, Daniel Hillard, utilises prosthetics and his skills as a voiceover artist to gain access into his old family home, and back into his children’s lives. Recently divorced, Daniel spots an ad placed by his ex-wife advertising for a Nanny to look after their three children. Seizing the opportunity to spend quality time with his kids he applies for the position under the guise of an elderly Scottish woman, Mrs. Doubtfire. With a fake nose, fake name, and fake home-cooked meals, Daniel is finally able to see his children’s real lives, which he failed to recognise when they all lived together. Packed to the brim with iconic lines and unforgettable slapstick comedy, Mrs. Doubtfire is a hilarious and emotionally charged tale of a modern family unit. Premiering on Broadway in 2019 before transferring to the West End this year, the musical version of the Oscar winning film has all the heart and warmth of the original, with added chorus lines and a catchy soundtrack.

The Lion King

The family classic that gave everyone emotional scars (it wouldn’t be a Disney classic without at least one parental death) burst onto our cinema screens back in 1994. A hairy version of Hamlet, Simba must face a future without his father after his power-hungry uncle kills the King. Forced to flee to the Serengeti Plains to escape Uncle Scar’s (yellow-eyed) gaze, Simba bumps into Timon and Pumbaa, an unlikely, but undeniably hilarious, double act, who become Simba’s new BFFs. Accompanied by an Oscar winning soundtrack written by Elton John and Tim Rice (the animation had three nominations in the Best Original Song category!) and an Oscar winning score from music maestro Hans Zimmer, the classic cartoon hit all the right notes, and the stage version is no different! Opening in the West End over 20 years ago, the musical has been delighting audiences for decades. The breath-taking show features over 232 puppets and 50 actors, as well as the much-loved songs of the film. The multiple Olivier award winning musical will transport you to the dazzling desert and will have you singing ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ all the way home.

Back to the Future

Want to feel old? The future that Marty travels to in the 1989 sequel is in our past! In Back to the Future Part II the teenage time traveler drives straight into 2015 (we can’t blame him for getting out before reaching 2016 or 2020, Biff and his combover is plenty for anyone to deal with…). The 1985 original which kickstarted the whole adventure became the highest-grossing film of the year and earned multiple Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations, coming away with a Hugo Award a Saturn Award, and an Academy Award. The musical adaptation of the cult film has followed in the films footsteps (or flaming tyre tracks) scooping up an Olivier Award for Best New Musical and four wins at the WhatsOnStage awards, including Best New Musical and Best Male Performer. When Marty’s eccentric best friend, Doc, offers him a ride in his time-traveling DeLorean, the teenager leaps at the chance. Soon he drives back to 1955 and accidently bumps into his parents (now teenagers attending Hill Valley High). Before he can make his way back to 1985, where he belongs, Marty needs to guarantee that his high-school-aged parents fall in love, or he might not have a future to go back to. The clock tower is ticking, can Marty make it?


Turning Disney’s troupes on its head Princesses, Anna and Elsa, showed us that they didn’t need a prince to give them a happily ever after, just a kick-ass sister, a chatty snowman, and a brooding reindeer. Winner of 2 Oscars and a UK Top 10 single for the infamous Let It Go, the heartwarming animation took the world by (snow)storm back in 2013. The musical, which opened in the West End back in 2021 is just as beloved as the film, scooping up seven WhatOnStage Awards in 2022 (the most of any production) and four Olivier Award nominations, including Best New Musical! The special effects and magical costume changes displayed on stage at the Theatre Royal Dury Lane must be seen to be believed (and even then, it’s hard to!) When Elsa’s powers overwhelm her, the fairytale world of Arendelle becomes trapped in perpetual winter. It’s up to Anna, and her new friends Olaf, Kristoff and a reindeer, to find her lost sister and break her icy spell. 

Moulin Rouge!

The spectacular, spectacular musical has been wowing audiences since it opened in 2021. Based on Baz Luhrmann’s electric 2001 film, the jam-packed musical features over 65 songs, 250 costumes, and 2 giant elephants (but we don’t talk about those). Be transported back to 1899, where a young English writer, Christian, has ventured to Paris to follow the Bohemian revolution taking hold. Here he soon stumbles across the Moulin Rouge, a nightclub where the rich and poor men alike come to be entertained by the dancers. However, things take a wicked turn when he starts a deadly love affair with the star courtesan of the club, Satine. Olivier Award winner for Best Costume Design, the vibrant musical is provocative, glamorous, and undeniably sexy. The musical is currently playing in six countries, including Japan and Sweden, meaning you don’t have to travel to France to take a trip to the marvelous, Moulin Rouge. So why not hop on the tube and discover the intoxicating world that lies behind the plush red curtains?

Film to stage adaptations we’d love to see.

We already have three more film to stage adaptations to look forward too before the year is out, including family favourite The Snowman, cult classic Edward Scissorhands, and the glamourous Sunset Boulevard. However, just like Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (book to film to film to stage) we’re hungry for more! Here are just some of the productions we would like to see make the leap from the silver screen to the West End stage.

Mean Girls

Just like ‘fetch’ we’re trying to make this happen. The cult classic film slut-dropped its way onto our screens back in 2004, and we’ve been quoting it ever since. Educated in Africa by her scientist parents, Cady is plunged into the suburban jungle of Illinois and forced to learn the very peculiar mating rituals and pack mentality of the typical American High School. Soon she unwittingly finds herself inducted into the seemingly fabulous world of "the Plastics," the queen bees of North Shore High. However, Cady soon realizes how her shallow group of new friends earned this nickname. With a book by Tina Fey, who also co-wrote the film, The Mean Girls Musical officially opened on Broadway in 2018. The production was nominated for a whopping 12 Tony Awards and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical. The show was due to make its way across the pond in 2020, until the C word caused all the theatres to temporarily close (and we’re not talking about carbs). Now that the theatres are back up and running, we hope they’ll be able to take a trip in their silver convertible and join us in the West End, after all, it’s the 20th (?!) anniversary of the film next year!

The Devil Wears Prada

A Devil Wears Prada adaptation for spring, groundbreaking! Following the theme of early 00’s chick flicks turned musical adaptations, we’d love to see the fashion-forward musical strut down the catwalk and into West End theatres next year. Andy Sachs lands her dream job as the assistant to the formidable fashion editor Miranda Priestly. However, with Miranda as her boss, Andy's life becomes a runway of impossible tasks and impossibly high heels. Can she survive the fierce fashion world without losing her soul? The musical adaptation opened on Broadway last year and featured music from Elton John and a book by Legally Blonde actress Kate Wetherhead. Forget the Channel bag, a ticket to The Devil Wears Prada will always be our lust after accessory.


The Broadway phenomenon received eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, when it opened in 2019. The spooky show has already transferred to South Korea, and with an Australian premiere now officially set for 2025, one question remains: Where’s OUR Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice… Beetlejuice?!! When the ghostly inhabitants of a charmingly haunted house fail to scare the Deetz family away, they call upon Beetlejuice, a freelance 'bio-exorcist' with a flair for chaos. Beetlejuice soon turns the afterlife into a sideshow, dead'-icated to making the living laugh until they’re dead, and whose "help" quickly becomes dangerous for the ghosts and teenager Lydia Deetz. With The Woman in Black closing in March this year, and 2:22: A Ghost Story closing in September, the West End has plenty of room for a supernatural show, could this be the one to fill it?