Let’s set the stage for some of the most unlikely theatrical adaptations of things you’d never think you’d see in a theater.
Doctor Whois so popular in England, and has been for some time, that it’s not just a TV show. The series has spawned novels, radio plays, movies, and even a few stage productions. It’s not as crazy as it sounds—the show’s 1960s and 1970s episodes were very low budget and often took place in a single room. Nevertheless, you don’t see hostile, robotlike alien races—like Doctor Who‘s Daleks—in the theater too much. But if you would if you happened to catch Doctor Who and the Daleks in the Seven Keys to Doomsday in 1974, or Doctor Who: The Ultimate Adventure in 1989. The latter even starred Jon Pertwee, who played the title role of the Doctor on TV.
Despite being a top 10 show for most of its 10-season run, CBS abruptly canceled The Jeffersons in 1985. The show didn’t receive a proper finale, and the cast lamented not having a proper send-off, so in 1993, they reunited to perform three episodes of the series live. The Best of the Jeffersons played to sold-out crowds over a weekend at Detroit’s Fox Theater.
In Asia, video games are even more popular than they are in the U.S., and enjoy an increased cultural cache. Competitive video game leagues are a mainstream phenomenon, and so are stage adaptations of video games. The storylines of several games such as Phantasy Star Online 2 and Persona 4 Visualivehave been expanded and performed live.
In 2010, the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre—located in the heart of Communist China—presented a classic of Communist literature, live on stage: Das Kapital, by Karl Marx. It’s not exactly a work of narrative fiction, but a very dry and academic work of nonfiction outlining many of the tenets of Communism. Oh, and it’s a musical. And not only is it based on a political text with big Broadway style show tunes added in, it’s also based on a comic book. The stage version of Das Kapital gets its storyline from a graphic novel adaptation of Marx’s work that was published in Japan in 2008.