'The Queen's Gambit' Is Getting Turned Into A Stage Musical

The Queen's Gambit was a huge hit on Netflix last year, becoming the streaming service's most-watched scripted miniseries with over 62 million viewers in the first month. Now, fresh off a Golden Globes win for Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television, the story of orphan chess prodigy Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) will be turned into a stage musical, bringing song and dance to the character drama.Variety has news on the Queen's Gambit musical adaptation in the works. The production company Level Forward has landed the theatrical stage rights to the novel by Walter Tevis, who also wrote the books that inspired The Hustler and The Man Who Fell to Earth. The latter was also turned into a stage production, but that made a little more sense since David Bowie starred in the film adaptation and produced the musical take on the story. But a musical version of The Queen's Gambit feels rather out of left field.

If you haven't seen The Queen's Gambit yet, here's the official trailer and synopsis:

Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, the Netflix limited series drama The Queen's Gambit is a coming-of-age story that explores the true cost of genius. Abandoned and entrusted to a Kentucky orphanage in the late 1950s, a young Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy) discovers an astonishing talent for chess while developing an addiction to tranquilizers provided by the state as a sedative for the children. Haunted by her personal demons and fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, Beth transforms into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast while determined to conquer the traditional boundaries established in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.

The 1950s and 1960s setting and trips across the American Midwest, Paris, and Moscow will certainly allow for a stylish musical production, but the subject matter doesn't really seem fit for a full fledged song-and-dance adaptation. It's a darker character portrait of a young orphan who struggles with her broken family, identity, and substance abuse, as she becomes a worldwide chess sensation. Sure, there are plenty of powerful, dramatic musicals out there, but I'm having trouble seeing how this particular adaptation is going to work.

Level Forward CEO Adrienne Becker and producer Julia Dunetz said in a statement:

"It is a privilege for Level Forward to lead the charge of bringing The Queen's Gambit to the stage through the beloved and enduring craft of musical theater. Told through a brave and fresh point of view, audiences are already sharing in the friendship and fortitude of the story's inspiring women who energize and sustain Beth Harmon's journey and ultimate triumph. The story is a siren call amidst our contemporary struggles for gender and racial equity, and we're looking forward to moving the project forward."

I'm dreading the mere possibility of seeing performers in giant chess piece costumes shifting about on stage to a jaunty tune. But perhaps Level Forward, which counts Walt Disney's grandniece Abigail Disney as one of the co-founders, has a thoughtful approach that will make this a hit stage production.

As of now, there aren't any creative talents announced for The Queen's Gambit musical, so stay tuned for more.