Broadway shows are starting to reopen with many of our favorites returning as early as September (though some shows like Springsteen on Broadway are already taking the stage). Counting down to the reopening of Broadway’s most iconic musicals and plays of course means singing your favorite songs and quoting your favorite characters, but there’s plenty of time to go even further. Get straight to the creator’s inspiration (and get major points for Broadway knowledge) by reading your way through Broadway!

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

The Lion King and Shakespeare’s classic tragedy share a plot structure, but while Simba sings and finds his confidence as a future king, Hamlet’s story goes in a completely different direction. While we wait for “Hakuna Matata” vibes to return to Broadway, why not read this classic play as a “what could’ve been”?

The Lion King resumes performances September 14, 2021.

Chicago by Maurine Dallas Watkins

Chicago is a Broadway classic, of course, but did you know that it was inspired by a 1920s play about the two real court cases of accused murderers Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner? (When it’s performed today, the play is titled Play Ball.) The Broadway favorite and Maurine’s original play share some characters, including the famous Roxie Hart, “The prettiest woman ever charged with murder in Chicago.” True crime and 1920s drama? Yes, please!

Chicago resumes performances September 14, 2021.

The Georgics by Virgil

Classical mythology, what? Hadestown is one of the shows returning to Broadway (which actually isn’t so way down) this fall, and its inspiration goes all the way back to the 20s—the 20s BCE—and ancient Greek mythology. You might know the story of Orpheus and Eurydice already (we won’t spoil it if you don’t!). The final book of Virgil’s poem tells the story of these lovers and their struggles to be reunited.

Hadestown resumes performances September 22, 2021.

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul

Fun fact: Dear Evan Hansen is partly based on co-creator Benj Pasek’s experiences at Friends’ Central School. With so much to get excited about with Dear Evan Hansen along with its Broadway reopening (Jordan Fisher is returning as Evan, and the film is coming soon! *screams in theater nerd*), but why not add a book on top of it all? The show book (essentially the script and lyrics) for the musical by Steven Levenson is available to the public, but this novelized version is perfect for stepping into Evan’s world on your own.

Dear Evan Hansen resumes performances December 11, 2021.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

You probably know that Wicked the musical is based on a novel of the same name, but have you read it? If you haven’t, it’s definitely time to pull this one up to the top of your “To Be Read” list. (Talk about defying gravity.) Plus, if you really love the world that Gregory Maguire reveals in his retelling of The Wizard of Oz, Wicked is actually the first of four books in a series of Oz adventures (though poor Elphaba obviously isn’t in them).

Wicked resumes performances September 14, 2021.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

We love to belt Broadway soundtracks in our bedrooms (..and the shower and the car and…), but Broadway is also home to some incredible plays. One of those plays is the stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s 1960 novel about injustice and growing up. A high school staple, To Kill a Mockingbird might already be on your summer reading list (and now your Broadway bucket list)!

To Kill a Mockingbird resumes performances October 5, 2021.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

A gothic horror that has stood the test of time, The Phantom of the Opera will be returning to haunt Broadway just in time for spooky season, but we can summon up the chill of a (seemingly) empty theatre before that. Gaston Leroux’s novel is over 100 years old, but his Phantom (no, not Gaston’s ghost) is fresh and unsettling every time no matter how familiar you are with him or the Paris Opera House.

The Phantom of the Opera resumes performances September 22, 2021.