Most Broadway musicals are works of fiction. However, non-fiction stories make their way to the stage with regularity as well. Well, at least, they are stories based on a true story. Some of classics include shows such as Annie Get Your Gun, George M, Fiorello!, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Some others that are classics or yet to be are as follows:
Hamilton: An American Musical
Probably, the most popular show presently running, Hamilton: An American Musical is a sung and rapped-through musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics, and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton by historian Ron Chernow (I have read this book!). Notably incorporating hip-hop, rhythm and blues, pop music, soul music, traditional-style show tunes, and the casting of non-white actors as the Founding Fathers and other historical figures, the musical achieved both critical acclaim and box office success.
The musical made its Off-Broadway debut at The Public Theater in February 2015, where its engagement was sold out. The show transferred to Broadway in August 2015 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. On Broadway, it received enthusiastic critical reception and unprecedented advance box office sales. In 2016, Hamilton received a record-setting 16 Tony nominations, winning 11, including Best Musical, and was also the recipient of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The prior off-Broadway production of Hamilton won the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical as well as seven other Drama Desk Awards out of 14 total nominated categories.
In keeping with the American Revolution theme, 1776 is a musical with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone. The story is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It dramatizes the efforts of John Adams to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document.
It premiered on Broadway in 1969, earning warm reviews, and ran for 1,217 performances. The production was nominated for five Tony Awards and won three, including the Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1972, it was made into a film adaptation and was revived on Broadway in 1997.
So let’s stay on the political front. Evita is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine President Juan Perón. The story follows Evita’s early life, rise to power, charity work, and eventual death.
The musical began as a rock opera concept album released in 1976. Its success led to productions in London’s West End in 1978, winning the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical, and on Broadway a year later, where it was the first British musical to receive the Tony Award for Best Musical.
This has been followed by a string of professional tours and worldwide productions and numerous cast albums, as well as a major 1996 film of the musical starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas. The musical was revived in London in 2006, and on Broadway in 2012, and toured the UK again in 2013–14 before running for 55 West End performances at the Dominion Theatre in September–October 2014.
Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me If You Can is a musical with a libretto by Terrence McNally and a theatrical score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. It follows the story of a con artist named Frank Abagnale Jr. A majority of the plot is borrowed from the 2002 film of the same name starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, which in turn was based on Abagnale’s 1980 autobiography. Abagnale lived his life as a former confidence trickster, check forger, and impostor between the ages of 15 and 21. He became one of the most famous impostors ever, claiming to have assumed no fewer than eight identities, including an airline pilot, a physician, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons agent, and a lawyer. He escaped from police custody twice (once from a taxiing airliner and once from a U.S. federal penitentiary), before he was 21 years old. He served less than five years in prison before starting to work for the federal government.
After a tryout musical performance in Seattle in 2009, Catch Me If You Can opened at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre in April 10, 2011. The production received four Tony Awards nominations, including one for Best Musical, winning Best Actor in a Musical for Norbert Leo Butz. The show closed on September 4, 2011 after 32 previews and 170 performances.