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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Books on Stage

Not long ago, Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, topped bestseller lists and was a favorite among book groups. It is an eloquent study of Didion’s year of grief following the sudden death of her husband and the terminal illness of her daughter Quintana. It seems an odd book to turn into theater, but local actress Helen Hedman has done just that at D.C.’s Studio Theatre, recreating a one-women show that featured Vanessa Redgrave in the 2007 New York version ("A Writer's Vivid Portrait of Grief -- Her Own," Washington Post, June 25, 2009).

Books live on for generations – not only in print, but in other art forms – whether theatre, film or even opera and dance. Here are some other books that made it to the stage:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker (Broadway Theatre, NY, 2005-2008)

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (Broadway Theatre, NY, Imperial Theatre, NY 1987 – 2003; Broadhurst Theatre, NY (revival) 2006-2008)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Hilton Theatre, NY 2007 – 2009)

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Cort Theatre, NY, 1990)

Native Son by Richard Wright (St. James Theatre, NY, 1941)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (Madison Square Theatre, NY; Garden Theatre, NY; New Amsterdam Theatre, NY, six productions from 1887 – 1907).

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