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Jeff Wayne's The War of The Worlds: The Musical Drama

An Audible Original Drama
Length: 5 hrs and 4 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (126 ratings)

Non-member price: $30.38

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Immerse yourself in The War of The Worlds

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Listen to an immersive audio drama

Discovery of the Martians

  • The Eve of the War
  • Discovery of the Martians
  • The Eve of the War
  • Heat Ray
  • The Eve of the War
  • Opening

Behind the scenes with the cast of Jeff Wayne's The War of The Worlds

Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton and Jeff Wayne on recording Audible's musical drama
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Publisher's Summary

When H. G. Wells first published The War of The Worlds in 1898, the novel quickly became a sci-fi classic. The story of extraterrestrials from Mars invading Earth captured the public’s imagination, inspiring a famed 1938 radio broadcast with Orson Welles, several feature films, countless video games, and a best-selling musical concept album by Jeff Wayne in 1978, among others.

Immersing listeners in a world that is as thrilling as it is desolate, Jeff Wayne’s eerie and pulsating score brings the suspense, drama, and urgency of Wells’s original novel to a fever pitch in this Audible Original Drama. Michael Sheen headlines an ensemble cast of talented performers that also includes Taron Egerton, Adrian Edmondson, Theo James, and Anna-Marie Wayne.

©2018 Music Masters: Sony Music Entertainment

©2018 Existing compositions: Universal Music Publishing Group, Jeff Wayne Music (Publishing) Ltd

©2018 Newly composed music: Jeff Wayne Music (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

©2018 Newly composed music: Jeff Wayne Music (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"The science-fiction classic undergoes a fantastic modernization, thanks to Jeff Wayne's energetic score and a cast of talented narrators. Michael Sheen capably steps into the character of the unnamed journalist and imbues his narration with steady calm as he recounts the Martian invasion of England. A varied cast coupled with subtle sound effects keeps the drama feeling fresh and dynamic. The musical score complements the story by punctuating the arrival of the Martians and other thrilling moments but also highlights the story's isolating atmosphere. Score and narration combine with high production values, resulting in a unique audio drama that enhances the original story." (AudioFile Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

The best of both novel and album

Noone would've believed, in the last years of the 19th century that H.G. Wells would change the existing genre of "Invasion fiction" by adding the terrifying inhuman Martians.
Noone would've dreamed that 80 years later a musical composer Jeff Wayne would use that story to make one of the most dramatic and intense albums of music.
And now the two meet in a stunning audio drama.
The beauty of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, An Audio Drama is not only the addition of music but also a reexamination of the characters. In the book the protagonist is unnamed, simply being the author. However this version adds a name George (as H.G Wells himself was called that) and most interestingly his wife Carrie who narrates a portion of the story.
Together with the music and excellent acting this is the best telling of the tale.

5 people found this helpful

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Great adaptation but could have been better

The original musical was the first album that I ever owned. At the tender age of 8, it came down to a choice between War of the Worlds or a slinky for my birthday and I certainly have never regretted that choice. I have listened to it more times than I can even guess to count.

This would have been 5 stars all the way for me but for 2 things.

1. It took me a long time to get used to the motifs from the original album being used in different parts of the story but I did eventually slip away from that expectation.

2. Anna-Marie Wayne's over acting almost killed those chapters for me. There were moments that I had to force myself not to skip through that part.

Apart from that, this was a very clever adaptation which I would recommend to anyone who knows the story.

1 person found this helpful

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great adaptation!

I was wary at first but this turned out to be as good as the original! The songs aren't performed but the performances of the actors more than make up for that.

1 person found this helpful

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Great idea in theory..

I firstly want to say that the performances given by Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton and the others were fantastic. Michael Sheen is a phenomenal narrator! With that being said.. Overall, the music was quite jarring and distracting from the story and narration. I did like the added sound effects BUT the music from the musical for some reason took me out of the story half of the time. I think it was the long instrumental parts which felt like it didn't belong (although some of the instrumental parts really helped move the story along). In the end, I can see what they were trying to do.. but it didn't have the pay off.

1 person found this helpful

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What an amazing rendition!

If you enjoyed Jeff Wayne's album, you must listen to this - Thrilling and atmospheric!

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  • Rod
  • 16-12-2019

Don't miss it!

Jeff Wayne has reimaged his popular 1978 musical production of HG Wells’ science fiction masterpiece, War of the Worlds, and it is stellar.

British science fiction writer HG Wells first wrote War of the Worlds in 1897. It tells the story of a Martian invasion of Earth using superior technology to decimate the population and became the template for future alien-invasion stories. The novel received a revival after American actor and director Orson Welles dramatised it for radio in 1938. The broadcast presented the invasion through a series of fake news bulletins which caused outright panic across the nation as listeners tuned in late and failed to realise they were listening to The Mercury Theatre on the Air.

Welles’ infamous radio play is still celebrated and studied to this day and its popularity is arguably matched only by Jeff Wayne’s rock opera of the seventies. The distinctive dramatic music, combined with Richard Burton’s narration and David Essex’ vocals has continued to keep this recording well-loved and popular.

Now, some 40 years later, Jeff Wayne has removed the songs, revamped the music and released a full-cast dramatisation of War of the Worlds. A lot of the familiar, much-loved music is still there, although tweaked to modernise it, and it complements the fully-realised production and sound effects beautifully with tense underscoring and powerful but shorter musical bridges.

The new music added to this production is of equal quality to the most remembered tunes of the original and it all adds to the tension and thrills of the tale.

War of the Worlds has been done to death over the decades with movie adaptations, at least two television mini-series this past year alone, and countless book readings and dramatisations. Even so, Wayne has creating a fresh new version that brings back the excitement of the story and the storytelling. There’s enough of his original production to delight those already in love with the earlier version without turning this 2018 adaptation into a simple rehash.

Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds 2018 musical drama remains emotive, passionate and unstoppable listening with a top-notch cast. Don’t miss it.

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  • DDD
  • 16-10-2019

Not the original! No songs!

I was expecting a remastered version of the original. But wait as I may, no songs! The songs are what made my childhood memories and the flashy sound effects did not make up for the nostalgic character of the original.

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  • Ian
  • 29-09-2019

Also most as good as the original

Loved this updated version, the suitable changes didn’t impact the overall story but the modernised music smashed it

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Outstanding performance by an Amazing team

Fans of the original musical will enjoy new content including Carrie's journey to the Steamer and The Journalist's journey through dead London.

This was so enjoyable. I wish I could listen to it all again. Amazing performances by Sheen, Egerton and Wayne.

If you're wondering whether this version offers anything new on the existing musical versions, then please have a listen. It follows the novel a lot closer and details so much more than previous musical versions.

As a fan of all WotW versions, this is now my favourite.

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Great production

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great cool oooolwaaah ironclad yeah

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  • Matt
  • 03-12-2018

Wonderful production paired with a classic story.

I've loved Jeff Wayne's rendition of 'The War of the Worlds' ever since I was a kid. So once I heard of this audiobook I immediately had to get it. After listening to it in practically a single sitting I was not disappointed and was impressed with how this turned out

If you're thinking about getting this, please understand this is not an unabridged telling of H.G. Wells' classic, nor is this a complete recreation of Jeff Wayne's musical; It is it's own thing. While the story beats are identical, with just extremely minor changes to help make the audiobook flow better. The narrative here is classic and well put together, as to be expected judging from the source material.

As you can tell by the credits, there are a good deal of narrators, each playing individual characters from the novel, and each one does a spectacular performance. Michael Sheen does a jaw dropping job playing the main character (dubbed George in this rendition). You can feel the despair and loss as the story continues through his delivery. I was especially surprised with Anna-Marie Wayne's performance as George's wife. I wasn't familiar with her previous works but she blew it out of the water here. Everyone did a spectacular performance, and all the different characters were fun and interesting to listen to. Kudos all around.

Now, we get to Jeff Wayne himself. His music from the Next Generation version of the musical is used all throughout the book. Individual music queues, sound effects and references are used in the appropriate time in the story to add the appropriate atmosphere. When the main character is at Horsell Common and you've heard Jeff Wayne's musical before; you already know what is being played in the background. However this isn't a complete copy and paste from the musical. There is some original or remixed pieces of music created for this, and that variation did actually keep me more interested. Also there is no singing in the audiobook, which means no Spirit of Man, Thunder Child, Eve of the War or Forever Autumn. There are call backs to it, but... we don't get to hear Justin Hayward singing about how the winter winds will be much colder in this rendition.

I could go on about the sound design, and production quality, but this review is getting long enough as it is (I didn't mean to write an essay. Haha). If you can't tell, I absolutely adore this audiobook. It captures the fantastic story about an empire's fall that helped defined a genre, paired with the music we've loved so well. If you're a fan of the classic H.G. Wells' novel and have yet to listened to Jeff Wayne's musical, or if you're a fan of both. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. You won't be disappointed.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Charles Duncan
  • 30-11-2018

Unexpected and Amazing

I grew up in the 80s and 90s listening to the Jeff Wayne musical of War of the World on vinyl as my dad was a fan of it from the very beginning. WotW has been a part of my life practically since I was born, and it is important to me as something I shared with my dad who passed away about 12 years ago. I found out about this shortly after waking up this morning, and I had purchased it before I even had time to realize what I was doing. I do not regret this decision. The story is great (even with the deviations from the original, which I actually quite enjoyed.) The acting is great. The music is great. I just wish my dad was still alive so he could listen to this.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Linda
  • 01-12-2018

HG Wells meets Jeff Wayne

A more or less full cast production of the novel set against the backdrop of Jeff Wayne's wonderful musical score. I have the original version of Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds Musical Drama, and at first I missed Richard Burton as the Voice of the Narrator, but Michael Sheen did a wonderful job, as did the rest of the cast. I felt I was there in several spots. Very well done, very much enjoyed, very highly recommended if you're looking for a one sitting listen. And even if you're not.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Rob
  • 18-12-2018

Strange and wonderful

Let me preface my review by saying that I have always been an avid fan of nineteenth century European literature, especially British. Wells' War of the Worlds is along my favorites, I've read it several times. Also, I've never heard of Wayne's musical from the eighties, until I read about it in a review here a few days ago, nor am I a big fan of musicals.

I almost stopped listening to this in the first chapter, but pressed on, and I'm so happy that I did, because I very much enjoyed this musical. My first impression was that the music did not match the story, in my mind I was expecting the music to match the period. The music is a strange mix of mostly eighties arcade video game music, with occasional eighties rock and disco-like music, and even a few hints of dubstep. While I was initially appalled that one of my favorite classics would be defiled in this way, it really grew on me and, strangely, I came to like it.

The sound effects were incredible, they did a fantastic job of painting a mental picture of the details of the story and creating mood...dread, hope, wonder, etc. The acting was excellent, and although the story deviated from the original by using the protagonist's wife as a major character, it worked very well.

One thing that I did very much dislike about this musical was the addition of things and ideas from the wrong century. For example, the use of a gender-neutral pronoun (a 21st century concept) and a mosque in Victorian London (which did not exist until the 20th century). These details may seem minor, but they distract the listener from the story and show that the writer did not do any homework before altering the original story.

Overall, this was amazing and I would highly recommend it, but with a warning not to expect the original Victorian version, but rather a Rocky Horror Picture Show version.

6 people found this helpful

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  • GWhizYMe
  • 03-12-2018

Beautifully Done

First, I have been a huge fan of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds since the original came out in 1978. I have collected nearly every version and format released since then, including the computer game.

This version is amazing. It focuses more on the drama instead of the music, but the music is still there and sounds as great as it ever did. This is a good thing as this is a drama and the music is the focus on all of the previous albums and concerts.

The performances are all top-notch.

This version really adds some great new elements to the story, as well as keeping of the best parts of the original.

As a huge fan of the original I absolutely loved this. If you have not ever heard the original, I would suggest that you should listen to it first. I believe that you might enjoy this more if you did. This is just a suggestion though; I think you will love this either way.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Arin
  • 04-12-2018

Updated War of the Worlds

A very interesting remix. I have long been a fan of Jeff Wayne’s musical and having his additions on music to the book was striking. Michael Sheen as the journalist was fantastic as was Taron Edgerton.

My biggest complaint was that the songs weren’t in this version, just the background and symphonic stuff. I kept breaking out into song when I expected the music to lead that way.

Weird to see the heat ray shifted away from the Ulla that I am familiar with, but I understand the change.

All told, well done!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Dustin Fisher
  • 14-12-2018

A radio style drama is very fitting

Since this is based off of the musical, it finds a very natural home as a radio drama. Imagine the musical, but with the story fleshed out, foley sounds and instrumental music added and that is what you get. The cast performs brilliantly in telling the story with the music and sound effects. The music itself is very recognizable to fans of the musical- there are classic themes such as the Eve of the War, Forever Autumn and the Spirit of Man woven throughout. There is a slight update/difference to the music, for instance- Thunder Child's theme now includes some subtle (?!) dub-step, which actually fits very well and tastefully within the music, the Spirit of Man has a brass horn rendition that is very emotional, and many other classic themes have wonderful additions/differences, and yet still remain very recognizable.

All in all this is an excellent rendition of the story with Jeff Wayne's oversight keeping it on track. I think it would work on it's it's own without prior knowledge of the musical, as it is very fittingly told as a radio style drama, but I will be interested to see the reviews of people who have no experience with the musical.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mossias
  • 14-12-2018

What a performance!

It is not what expected at all, but also what I was hoping for and so...so much more.
The voice acting, background sounds and sound effects, it was all so effortlessly easy to immerse yourself into.
Good job audible, this is beyond perfection.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dad / Husband (who rarely reviews)
  • 29-11-2018

It's different...

Less music and more story make for something different with plenty of callbacks. Still great.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Fred Janz
  • 19-12-2018

Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds, Great!

This was an amazing listen, Best dramatized book Audible has ever done. We want more of this, the music and dialogue went great together. This had a real sense of drama & emotion to it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • AJ Poulter
  • 22-05-2019

Great, but…

I love Jeff Wayne’s ‘The War of the Worlds’, and I love the source material from the great H.G. Wells - so in balance I should’ve completely loved this fusion of the two. And I kind of did. Except that for me it somewhat fell between two stools. There was far too much music for an audiobook (though to be fair it didn’t claim to be one); but not enough of the music in a single contiguous block to let you enjoy it as music. I do recommend it still as it was very good - but for most listeners there will be either too much or too little music. Or possibly both.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Simon
  • 29-11-2018

Stunning Interpretation of Jeff Wayne's Classic!

If like me you still get a small frisson thinking of the words, No-one would have believed . . . they drew their plans against us, then put this right on your wish list! I can still remember the sheer awe I felt as a young lad when I started to listen to the cassette tapes I had received for my birthday and Burton's chilling opening words came out of the speakers like it was yesterday. Forty years on and this new version had me absolutely captivated from start to finish.

It's the same story, just completely remixed and with a lot of additional sound and detail. That sound is fantastic, like many of the great bands the bass is high in the mix giving it full expression and the use of stereo is superb. Definitely one to be listened to with quality headphones and preferably not in noisy areas to get the very best out of it. There are great riffs from that glorious score, thunderous explosions and more subtle sounds too. The overall soundscape is the best I have experienced in an Audible production.

The voice acting is top quality. Anna-Marie Wayne, who is Jeff's daughter of course, as Carrie and Michael Sheen as the journalist give outstanding performances and the supporting cast don't let them down by any stretch of the imagination.

I never thought that anything could match the original. This is different and stands in its own right but those forty years were suddenly a mere instant in time and I was transported back through the decades to that same feeling of excitement that the younger Simon felt. If you can, just don the headphones, turn off the lights, shut your eyes and crank up the volume!

Absolutely superb!

116 people found this helpful

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  • Tony Swinton
  • 29-11-2018

Just brilliant

I love the classic version with Richard Burton but this is just brilliant with added dialogue it adds so much more to a classic
I downloaded the pre order as soon as it became available and listened in one sitting
I will be sure to listen to this book again
It is in my top 5 audio books

27 people found this helpful

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  • tony foggin
  • 29-11-2018

Brilliant Jeff Wayne does it again!!

I hope Jeff Wayne never gives up with his adaptations of his wonderful classic. What a cast as well. Michael Sheen sounds very much like the late great Richard Burton. Brilliant cast. I wonder if Jeff Wayne had a hand in choosing them also. JUST BRILLIANT!! Highly Recommended

40 people found this helpful

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  • RSLEGION
  • 30-11-2018

A Gripping way to listen to H. G. Wells classic

Jeff Wayne's The Musical Version of The War of the Worlds is a classic and must hear musical now this Musical Drama accompanies The Musical Version very well, I found it very gripping and at the end found I wanted more. The Musical Drama has the great instrumental music from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version along with great sound effects and audio acting. A gripping new way to tell the classic H.G. Wells story.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Dave
  • 29-11-2018

Amazing

An amazing array of talent and very well put together. This is War of the Worlds as it should be heard.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Karl
  • 05-12-2018

Very, Very Good!

Short review: Superb production of the book and the musical blended into a sweet mixture. If your a fan, you should buy it!

Longer review:

I'm writing this review having only listened to two chapters. I could have well done this after only one. It reminds me of an idea I had a only a little time ago: I already knew the book was superb, having read it numerous times, I already knew that the musical version was utterly superb, having literally grown up listening to it countless times over the years. Create a uber-masterpiece from the two masterpieces! Have the narrative blended with the goodness of the music Jeff Wayne created, but use more, if not all of the book.

And they did it.

But who would take the narrator/journalist role? This above all was most important, but who? When I listened to the sample, I actually thought they'd used Richard Burtons' voice somehow, then read that Michael Sheen had done it. Absolutely perfect! Adrian Edmonson is brilliant! I'm getting to know the rest of the cast as I go, but I know that they WILL be exceptional performances. You have to get something like this right, and I feel they've nailed it sweetly.

Some slight niggles though, but this is mainly due to the use of the newer musical versions' music, the dance beat style portions just didn't feel right. Having said that I will say I eventually began to like the newer musical version, very well produced!

Some of the books' greatest fans may not like this production much as they may say there is too much music for it to be called an audio book as such, and so its called a audio drama/book maybe? Maybe not a musical in the true form? Well they seem to use a good portion of music, and have used pieces in different places too. Nicely done!

AND the BBC TV version of the book is just around the corner. Finally set IN THE RIGHT COUNTRY AND TIME PERIOD.

Thankyou for the time taken to read this giddy fans mumblings. Thankyou to the good people behind this production.

Now go buy it!

Very Best Regards,

Karl Hart

8 people found this helpful

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  • DHeppell_UK
  • 29-11-2018

Oooo Laaaa

If you like the original musical version by Jeff Wayne, then this is a must, the mix of Story, Drama and Music, is Nostalgic and brilliantly retold.

8 people found this helpful

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  • IoBB
  • 25-02-2019

Sorry, poor sound control and random music

Firstly, I love his original War of the Worlds narrated musical version... but that hasn't been well merged into this. The music (instrumental only) snippets chosen for this are repetitive and random, particularly in the first half, often with too little spoken audible voice between. The spoken voice is far quieter than the music, so I'd be constantly turning the car volume up and down by 12 or more volume steps. some voices are quieter than others, Carrie's for example I'd have to turn up to the car's maximum just to hear. It could have been a great recording but it's not one I'll listen to again... I'll stick with the narrated musical version i bought nearly 30 years ago instead!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-12-2018

The Combination I've Always Wanted

Finally a brilliant combination of the full oringinal story and haunting musical. An incredible achievement

2 people found this helpful