54 Fascinating Musicals Based on True Stories

Do you ever watch or listen to a musical and wonder whether it was based on something that really happened? Well you’re in luck! Here’s a full list of all of the musicals based on true stories from every decade. And you can even use the “Musical Info” button by each one to learn more about each show.

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Jazz Age Musicals (1920-1939)

Dearest Enemy  (1925)

Music: Richard Rodgers  Lyrics: Lorenz Hart  Book: Herbert Fields

Musical Info ➝

The Desert Song  (1926)

Music: Sigmund Romberg  Lyrics: Otto Harbach  Book: Hammerstein, Harbach, Mandel

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Golden Age Musicals (1940-1959)

Fiorello!  (1959)

Music: Jerry Bock Lyrics: Sheldon Harnick Book: Jerome Weidman, George Abbott

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Up in Central Park  (1945)

Music: Sigmund Romberg  Lyrics: Dorothy Fields  Book: Herbert Fields, Dorothy Fields

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Post-Golden Age Musicals (1960s)

Coco  (1969)

Music:  André Previn  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

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Funny Girl  (1964)

Music: Jule Styne  Lyrics: Bob Merrill  Book: Isobel Lennart

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George M!  (1968)

Music/Lyrics: George M. Cohan  Lyrics: Mary Cohan  Book: Michael Stewart, John Pascal, Francine Pascal

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Jennie  (1963)

Music: Arthur Schwartz  Lyrics: Howard Dietz  Book: Arnold Schulman

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Jimmy  (1969)

Music: Bill Jacob  Lyrics: Patti Jacob  Book: Melville Shavelson

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Maggie Flynn  (1968)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, George David Weiss, Morton DaCosta

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1970s Musicals

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  (1976)

Music: Leonard Bernstein  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

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Evita  (1976)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Tim Rice

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Goodtime Charley  (1975)

Music: Larry Grossman  Lyrics: Hal Hackady  Book: Sidney Michaels

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Minnie’s Boys  (1970)

Music: Larry Grossman  Lyrics: Hal Hackady  Book: Arthur Marx, Robert Fisher

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They’re Playing Our Song  (1978)

Music: Marvin Hamlisch  Lyrics: Carole Bayer Sager  Book: Neil Simon

Musical Info ➝1980s

1980s Musicals

Barnum  (1980)

Music: Cy Coleman  Lyrics: Michael Stewart  Book: Mark Bramble

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Dreamgirls  (1981)

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics/Book: Tom Eyen

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Mayor  (1985)

Music/Lyrics: Charles Strouse  Book: Warren Leight

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Sarafina!  (1987)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Mbongeni Ngema  Music/Lyrics: Hugh Masakela

Musical Info ➝Musical

The Biograph Girl  (1980)

Music/Lyrics/Book: David Heneker, Warner Brown

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1990s Musicals

A New Brain  (1998)

Music/Lyrics/Book: William Finn  Book: James Lapine

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Floyd Collins  (1994)

Music/Lyrics: Adam Guettel  Book: Tina Landau

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Jelly’s Last Jam  (1992)

Music: Jelly Roll Morton, Luther Henderson  Lyrics: Susan Birkenhead  Book: George C. Wolfe

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Kat and the Kings  (1996)

Music: Taliep Petersen  Lyrics/Book: David Kramer

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Parade  (1998)

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown  Book: Alfred Uhry

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Side Show  (1997)

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics/Book: Bill Russell

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Titanic  (1997)

Music/Lyrics: Maury Yeston  Book: Peter Stone

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The Will Rogers Follies (1991)

Music: Cy Coleman  Lyrics: Betty Comden, Adolph Green  Book: Peter Stone

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2000s Musicals

21 Chump Street  (2014)

Music/Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

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A Class Act  (2000)

Music/Lyrics: Edward Kleban  Book: Linda Kline, Lonny Price

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Allegiance  (2012)

Music/Lyrics: Jay Kuo  Book: Marc Acito, Jay Kuo

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Amazing Grace  (2012)

Music/Lyrics: Christopher Smith  Book: Smith, Arthur Giron

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Chaplin  (2006)

Music/Lyrics: Christopher Curtis  Book: Thomas Meehan, Curtis

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Clinton  (2012)

Music/Lyrics: Paul Hodge  Book: Michael Hodge, Paul Hodge

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Come From Away  (2013)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Irene Sankoff, David Hein

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Diana  (2019)

Music/Lyrics/Book: David Bryan, Joe DiPietro

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Grey Gardens  (2006)

Music: Scott Frankel  Lyrics: Michael Korie  Book: Doug Wright

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Gutenberg! The Musical!  (2005)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Scott Brown, Anthony King

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In the Green  (2019)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Grace McLean

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Miss Littlewood  (2018)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Sam Kenyon

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Nevermore  (2010)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jonathan Christenson

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Queen of the Mist  (2011)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa

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Road Show  (2003)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: John Weidman

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Scandalous  (2005)

Music: David Pomeranz, David Friedman  Lyrics/Book: Kathie Lee Gifford

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Six  (2017)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Toby Marlow, Lucy Moss

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Starry  (2019)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Matt Dahan, Kelly Lynne D’Angelo

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Stephen Ward  (2013)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics/Book: Don Black, Christopher Hampton

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The Hello Girls  (2019)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Peter C. Mills  Book: Cara Reichel

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The Scottsboro Boys  (2010)

Music: John Kander  Lyrics: Fred Ebb  Book: David Thompson

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The View UpStairs  (2017)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Max Vernon

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Witness Uganda  (2014)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Matt Gould, Griffin Matthews

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2020s Musicals

Space Dogs

Music/Lyrics/Book: Nick Blaemire, Van Hughes

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Tokyo Rose

Music/Lyrics/Book: Maryhee Yoon, Cara Baldwin

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We Won’t Sleep

Music/Lyrics: Ari Afsar  Book: Lauren M. Gunderson

Musical Info ➝

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Do you know of any other great musicals based on true stories?

Or have you seen/listened to any of the musicals based on true stories above? Let us know in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!

Stacy Karyn, author of Musicals Based on True Stories.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


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