Frodo and Carrie sing and dance in these 20 memorable sci-fi musicals

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Neil Gaiman's best-selling novel Coraline, which has already been adapted for the screen, will soon inspire yet another incarnation—a stage musical. Tickets for the production, with music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt, go on sale today. Coraline opens May 7 at Manhattan's MCCTheater.

But isn't a musical about a little girl who crosses over into a strange parallel world a bit too weird for the stage? Actually, it's not as bizarre as it seems. There have been sci-fi and fantasy musicals based on classic films (Forbidden Planet), comic-book characters (It's a Bird, It's a Plane, it's Superman!), and even H.P. Lovecraft (Shoggoth on the Roof).

Check out these 20 other musicals that have melded sci-fi and fantasy with song and dance, and discover which were hits and which flopped.

Area 51: The Musical
Shenanigans in and around the notorious secret military base in the Nevada desert.
Debut: 2000
Fun fact: Babylon 5's Claudia Christian sang on the cast album.
Hit or miss? The stage version has been produced in only limited runs.

Bat Boy: The Musical
Based on a June 23, 1992, Weekly World News story about a half-boy, half-bat, supposedly found living in a cave.
Debuted: 1997
Fun fact: Bat Boy has been performed continuously on one stage or another since it debuted, including off-Broadway.
Hit or miss? A cult favorite, still performed around the world, it received very positive reviews for the off-Broadway production.

Beauty and the Beast
The durable fairy tale has seen scores of versions, including this adaptation of the popular Disney animated film.
Fun fact: "Human Again," written for the movie, was cut. Due to the musical's great success, however, an entirely new animated sequence was set to the song for the 2002 Special Edition DVD release.
Hit or miss? The musical closed on July 29, 2007, after 5,464 regular performances, as Broadway's sixth-longest-running production.

The Brain From Planet X
This musical comedy is a spoof of 1950s alien invasion films.
Debut: 2006
Fun fact: Yes, there is a dancing, singing brain ... what more could you possibly want from a musical?
Hit or miss? Reviews have been uniformly positive.

Carrie: The Musical
Based on Stephen King's debut novel about a vengeful telekinetic teenager.
Debuted: 1988
Fun fact: The show had a book by Lawrence D. Cohen, lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by (appropriately enough, considering the last name) Michael Gore.
Hit or miss? The troubled production had a four-week run in England, receiving mixed reviews. Transferred to Broadway, it closed after only five performances.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Based on Ian Fleming's 1964 children's fantasy about a flying car.
Debuted: 2002
Fun fact: The script for the play was co-authored by Roald Dahl.
Hit or miss? It ran for more than three years before coming to Broadway, where it did very well despite a limited run and was nominated for five 2005 Tony Awards.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!
The famous DC character brought to life for the stage. The show opened at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway, directed by Harold Prince and starring Bob Holiday as Clark Kent and Superman, and Patricia Marand as Lois Lane.
Debuted: 1966
Fun fact: On Feb. 1, 1975, an adaption of the show aired on ABC TV's Wide World of Entertainment.
Hit or miss? Receiving generally positive reviews, it nevertheless failed to captivate audiences and closed after 129 performances. Still, it received three Tony Award nominations.

Jekyll and Hyde
This Broadway musical is based on the novel Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Debuted: April 1997
Fun fact: David Hasselhoff was the final Broadway Jekyll/Hyde.
Hit or miss? Despite running for more than 1,500 performances, the show lost money—more than $1.5 million.

The Last Starfighter
The musical is based on the low-budget but fondly remembered 1984 film in which a teen video-gamer used his skills to fight aliens.
Debuted: 2004
Fun fact: There's a soundtrack of the show available here.
Hit or miss? According to generally positive reviews, the show is surprisingly solid, with strong tunes and campy humor.

Little Shop of Horrors
The Menken/Ashman musical is based on Roger Corman's 1960 film about a nerdy young man who is victimized by a man-eating plant.
Debut: 1982
Fun fact: The play was never performed on Broadway.
Hit or miss? It closed on Nov. 1, 1987, after 2,209 performances, lauded as the third-longest-running musical and the highest-grossing production in off-Broadway history.

The Lord of the Rings
The story of Frodo Baggins and his quest to destroy the magical ring of the evil Lord Sauron.
Debut: 2006
Fun fact: Tolkien's epic fantasy was first adapted for the musical stage in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2001. Poor funding doomed the production.
Hit or miss? The 2006 Toronto production received generally poor reviews and closed in September of that year, at a loss. The retooled London version fared somewhat better, closing in 2008 after 492 performances and being nominated for several awards.

Return to the Forbidden Planet
A jukebox musical (e.g., one using previously released songs as its score) loosely based on Forbidden Planet (which was itself based on The Tempest), about a voyage to the planet D'Illyria, where Doctor Prospero and his lovely daughter Miranda are marooned.
Debut: 1989
Fun fact: The off-Broadway production opened in 1991 with Julee (Twin Peaks) Cruise and the recorded narration of James (Star Trek) Doohan.
Hit or miss? Well, it is still touring, with a new production in 2006 using narration by Queen guitarist (and astrophysicist) Brian May.

The Rocky Horror Show
The famed rock musical about a naïve young couple who stumble into some very weird company.
Debuted: 1973
Fun fact: Most people know the show from the 1975 film, but the stage version, which went into rehearsals with the working title "They Came From Denton High," continues to be a revival favorite, with new productions and tours appearing regularly worldwide.
Hit or miss? Really, need you ask?

Shrek the Musical
An ogre's quest to be left the hell alone, based on the 2001 DreamWorks film and the 1990 book by William Steig.
Debut: December 2008
Fun fact: The orchestra plays "I'm a Believer" after the curtain call.
Hit or miss? Reviews have been generally positive. USA Today called it "the most ingeniously wacky, transcendently tasteless Broadway musical since The Producers."

Shoggoth on the Roof
Credited to "He Who Must Not Be Named," the musical is a marriage of H.P. Lovecraft's horror writing and Fiddler on the Roof.
Debut: 2005 (Written in the 1970s)
Fun fact: Many productions have been attempted, but due to legal problems only two have actually been produced: in Stockholm in 2005 and in Dublin in 2007.
Hit or miss? Cthulhu alone knows.

Via Galactica
Similar to the TV show Quark, one of VG's characters, who live on an asteroid in the year 2972, is a garbage man who collects trash in a clamshell-shaped spaceship.
Debuted: 1972
Fun fact: Raul Julia was an original cast member.
Hit or miss? The show ran for only seven performances, so ...

Subtitled My Battlefield, My Body, the science fiction epic adventure was to be the first of three parts.
Debuted: January 31, 1973
Fun fact: The show was directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), with art direction and costumes by comic artist Neal Adams (Green Lantern/Green Arrow).
Hit or miss? The show closed on Feb. 18 after only eight performances.

Based on Gregory Maguire's revisionist novel about the land of Oz, with the Wicked Witch of the West as the main character.
Debuted: 2003
Fun fact: Maguire's name for the Witch, Elphaba, (pronounced EL-fa-ba) comes from the initials of Lyman Frank Baum, L-F-B.
Hit or miss? The Tony-winning show has broken records around the world. The North American tour alone was seen by more than 2 million people.

The Wiz
A musical retelling of The Wizard of Oz with a cast of African-American actors.
Debut: 1975
Fun fact: The Wiz was Michael Jackson's first feature film, and, to date, Diana Ross' last.
Hit or miss? The Wiz ran for four years and more than 1,600 performances, and it won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was adapted as a motion picture in 1978 but did not prove popular in that form.

Young Frankenstein
Based on the tremendously popular 1974 Mel Brooks/Gene Wilder film.
Debut: 2007
Fun fact: After her success as the oldest contestant to appear on TV's Dancing With the Stars, Cloris Leachman was asked to reprise her role as Frau Blucher on stage, but the show closed before she could appear.
Hit or miss? Opening on Broadway to mixed reviews, YF closed on Jan. 4, 2009, after 30 previews and 484 performances.