The Sunday Giveaway: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner at Atlantic Theater Company!

The Atlantic Theater Company, one of my faves since they took the monster chance to present a little musical about teenagers coming to terms with sexuality called . . . Spring Awakening . . . is presenting another adaptation right now called . . . The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

Runner was a short story that came out in the late 50s about an imprisoned young man who takes to running to “escape” from the feelings of incarceration.

It’s a pretty amazing story of independence and defiance, which is why it was adapted into a film, and now into a stage play.  Or as I like to say, this story has “run the gauntlet,” having been told in all three major forms of entertainment media (book, film, theater).

What’s your favorite “gauntlet” piece?  Think about it.  There have been a lot more than you think.  And extra credit if you tell me why you think that story made the “run.”

Comment with it below and you’ll be eligible to win two free tickets to this exiting new piece at the Atlantic.  Ready, set . . . (gunshot!).


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Aaron Deitsch says:

    Bridges of Madison County!
    Such a timeless story that can lend itself to any medium

  • Shariland says:

    Book: Israel Rank: an Autography, made into
    Movie: Kind Hearts & Coronets, made into
    Broadway musical Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.
    A good story well told across media

  • Linda says:

    I’m sure not many will agree, but I’m going to go with Catch Me If You Can because I’ve actually read the book and seen the movie and musical. I think what makes the film, musical, and book all work so well is that each takes advantage of the particular medium, so they all have slightly different focuses and strengths. What I love about the musical is the focus on father/son relationships. The one thing that all three have in common is making the audience care about a criminal.

  • Lori says:

    Bridges of Madison County

  • Sarah P. says:

    Les Miserables obviously is the ultimate triple crown success – classic Victor Hugo novel, universally adored musical, and subject of not one but several film adaptations (musical and non)! Everyone loves a good epic war tale/romance/family drama.

  • Laurie Blool says:

    I hate to be boring but I’m gonna have to go with Phantom of the Opera…which is so good it’s been turned into multiple movies AND musicals! I think it’s been successful because the book is wonderful…and not too long. Its also easy to make slight changes for a completely new interpretation! The Yeston and Weber musical versions have almost completely different themes…yet they are the same story.

  • Laurie Bloom says:

    Um, I misspelled my last name in above comment. Silly iPhone.

  • Alexandria Huntington says:

    Carrie- it carried across all mediums very well and is still revalent today

  • Sabrina says:

    My favorite “gauntlet” is MATILDA!

    It’s a fantastic piece to run the gauntlet because it started as such a uniquely dark-yet-magical children’s book. Kids for decades have enjoyed reading about this magical girl who has powers and overcomes the terrible adults in her life.

    Naturally, it made for a great family movie. With the magic of Hollywood, you’re able to execute such spectacular special effects and bring to life all the magic that you imagine and envision while reading that book. It’s like kids’ imaginations became reality.

    Then, with it being such a beloved story, and with so many emotional layers, it was a great pick for the stage. Who wouldn’t want to see the magic from the book and movie brought to live action?! [minor spoilers] Seeing Amanda Thripp fly by her pigtails or seeing Bruce somehow eat a whole chocolate cake or chalk magically writing on a chalkboard is truly cause for celebration, and what better celebration than everyone in ensemble numbers, singing their hearts out? The heightened emotion – dealing with child abuse, bad family situations, Matilda’s desire to do right in the world, her love of her teacher and learning, overcoming the odds – it all lends itself to great numbers. MATILDA translated so well in all 3 formats.

  • Imani C. says:

    Legally Blonde! Simply put, it’s just a story about female empowerment that entertains as much as it inspires. That sort of message is easily accessible in all 3 incarnations!

  • Claire says:

    Matilda is probably my favorite. The musical has brought back wonderful memories of reading the book and seeing the movie when I was younger. Roald Dahl helped me fall in love with reading, particularly with that book. Last year I was able to take my middle-school drama students to see the musical, and that inspired many of them to read the book, which made me really happy because I saw them falling in love with something that was very meaningful to me.

  • Amanda says:

    Believe it or not, SHREK is an example that many might not realize and I just used it the other day. It actually ran a longer gauntlet than what you’re talking about by going from live theater to live theater on DVD!

    I loved the kids’ book SHREK! by William Steig that came out when I was in preschool/early elementary school! (I believe a sample line is “Pheasant, peasant? What a pleasant present!”) It had a “jackass” and was weird and clever.

    Then when I was in late middle school or early high school they came out with the hit animated movie and the whole subsequent film franchise). Everyone loved the DreamWorks animation and it was even more clever, with lots of fairy tale jokes and adult humor that flew over little kids’ heads.

    Then there was the musical, that I really loved. It was fun and fairy-tale-ish, with lots of inside jokes to musical theater too. How cool to see a quirky Fiona (Sutton Foster was so fun) and evil Lord Farquaad on stage (Chris Sieber rocked that part) and of course Shrek and Donkey.

    BUT THEN!!! They went one step even further and just released the Shrek the Musical on DVD! I bought it at Target and was able to watch with some friends and relive how much fun we had at the theater. I’ve since re-watched … on Netflix. Live theater on DVD and Netflix?! YES!

  • Paula says:

    South Pacific. Why? Love transcends all
    obstacles – or some obstacles.

  • Alexa says:

    Legally Blonde…because it’s so much fun, but also has an unlikely underdog for whom we can root.

  • Bruce says:

    Auntie Mame (novel), Auntie Mame (film), Mame (musical). Why–because it’s about growing up, it’s about an eccentric character and it’s fun.

  • JOHN P says:

    Little Women — because everyone wants love and tragedy ….

    Dracula…. because we always want some horror…

    both timeless…

  • Dave says:




    So many emotions: anger, and sadness and joy and …

  • Charlie and the chocolate factory. Brilliant book (as are all Roald Dahl), one of my favourite movies of all time (Gene Wilder version of course) and now a musical! Come to broadway already Charlie!

  • Herman Wouk’s “Caine Mutiny” was a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, a great play and riveting film. It dramatized of the challenge to make the moral decision under pressure at great personal and professional risk.

  • Tom Hartman says:

    The Ballad of the Sad Cafe – The story – novella – itself is like a greek myth or Pal Joey (another gauntlet). The plot and characters are presented and there is little authorial commentary on the action. The play (Albee) and the movie versions are able and do drive home what the creators think the story is about. Plus the characters are so oddball that actors want to take them on the minute they read the novella.








  • Roger Gindi says:


    Started as a novel (“The Berlin Stories”), then a musical, then a movie-musical.

    Then a revival, then a revival of that revival!

  • Susan Chagrin says:

    Peter Pan!!

    Timeless and appealing to all ages

  • Emily V. says:

    War Horse:
    I think what made this gauntlet runner so outstanding is that it felt like the story had been created for each medium. They found a way for the horses to run with rich language in the book, the puppets where incredible and inherently theatrical, and the long takes utilized in the film. Awesome!

  • Alex Bishop says:

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

    Beautiful book, currently a play, and being planned for a film.

    It is making the run because you empathize with someone so innocent that just wants the truth. We get so caught up in our own lies and everyone else’s that every now and then you need someone to remind you the bare bones of life and what’s important.

  • Ging says:

    ” One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest ”
    has done the trifecta.

  • Susan says:

    I would pick Ragtime. I think it succeeds because of the music obviously and that it is set in NYC and presents America as a melting pot.

  • Adrian Ruz says:

    The Jungle Book! Coming to Broadway….. soon.

  • John Adam says:

    Interesting stories (Berlin Stories) Interesting play with Julie Harris’ first Tony and then, of course, the great Musical and greater Movie version!

  • Robert says:

    I too vote Ragtime. A timeless story that continues to transcend no matter the form of media in which it is presented.

  • EllenFD says:

    There’s a reason PETER PAN has surfaced in so many forms: play, numerous movie adaptations including one due next year starring Hugh Jackman, the iconic Broadway musical that became a TV favorite, animated adaptations and sequels, even the inspiration for films such as FINDING NEVERLAND; and of course next year’s NBC live musical for TV.

    The story is timeless, as old as our desire to stay forever young, innocent and unrestricted by anything except our own imaginations.

  • Qun says:

    Venus in Fur

    The book have been made into movies several times. But the play was such a creative interpretation of the book, it’s fun and Nina Arianda was just wonderful. I’m also really looking forward to Roman Polanski’s movie version.

  • Jack says:

    I like the film “Across the Bridge” with Rod Steiger. He must run the physical gauntlet of the bridge as well as his own mental gauntlets.

  • Brian says:

    The Great Gatsby, the recent film proved the story could survive an overly extravagant adaption. The tremendous Gatz off-broadway showed the story could be told in a simple but unexpected format and still showcase the lyricism of Fitzgerald’s work.

  • Paul L says:

    1. Christopher Isherwood’s two short novels which were published in a single novel “Berlin Stories” published in 1945;

    2. I am a Camera, Play based on 1. above, script by John Van Druten, 1951;

    3. I am a Camera, Film, Julie Harris & Laurence Harvey, 1955;

    4. Cabaret, Musical, 1966; and

    5. Cabaret, Film, 1972,

    republished here 2/5am. First sent to KD 2/2 in Reply.

    This show, is in fact pretty rare in having 5 media versions. Who can think of another.

    • Paul L says:

      Just thinking if we start with Ovid, and run it through Shaw’s Pygmalion, then on to My Fair Lady, we might have another 5 and possibly more. Sorry, trying to answer my own question.

  • Elaine says:

    84 Charing Cross Road

    A marvelous story that translates equally well in film, on stage and in print.

  • Linda Cohen says:

    I think of The Importance of Being Ernest. I have seen it many times as a drama, musical, movie and book. I have seen it with a male as the dowager. I hope this wins because I really would like to see Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner.

  • Latoya Edwards says:

    I think this is such an interesting story and concept. It’ll be really nice to see how staging and everything works to make this story come alive. Wishing this show all the best!

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