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

Musical Info ➝


Golden Age Musicals (1940-1959)

Fiorello!  (1959)

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

Musical Info ➝


Up in Central Park  (1945)

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

Musical Info ➝


Post-Golden Age Musicals (1960s)

Coco  (1969)

Music:  André Previn  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

Musical Info ➝


Funny Girl  (1964)

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

Musical Info ➝


George M!  (1968)

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

Musical Info ➝


Jennie  (1963)

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

Musical Info ➝


Jimmy  (1969)

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

Musical Info ➝


Maggie Flynn  (1968)

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

Musical Info ➝


1970s Musicals

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  (1976)

Music: Leonard Bernstein  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

Musical Info ➝


Evita  (1976)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Tim Rice

Musical Info ➝


Goodtime Charley  (1975)

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

Musical Info ➝


Minnie’s Boys  (1970)

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

Musical Info ➝


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

Musical Info ➝


Dreamgirls  (1981)

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics/Book: Tom Eyen

Musical Info ➝


Mayor  (1985)

Music/Lyrics: Charles Strouse  Book: Warren Leight

Musical Info ➝


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

Musical Info ➝


1990s Musicals

A New Brain  (1998)

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

Musical Info ➝


Floyd Collins  (1994)

Music/Lyrics: Adam Guettel  Book: Tina Landau

Musical Info ➝


Jelly’s Last Jam  (1992)

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

Musical Info ➝


Kat and the Kings  (1996)

Music: Taliep Petersen  Lyrics/Book: David Kramer

Musical Info ➝


Parade  (1998)

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown  Book: Alfred Uhry

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Side Show  (1997)

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics/Book: Bill Russell

Musical Info ➝


Titanic  (1997)

Music/Lyrics: Maury Yeston  Book: Peter Stone

Musical Info ➝


The Will Rogers Follies (1991)

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

Musical Info ➝


2000s Musicals

21 Chump Street  (2014)

Music/Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Musical Info ➝


A Class Act  (2000)

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

Musical Info ➝


Allegiance  (2012)

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

Musical Info ➝


Amazing Grace  (2012)

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

Musical Info ➝


Chaplin  (2006)

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

Musical Info ➝


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

Musical Info ➝


Grey Gardens  (2006)

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

Musical Info ➝


Gutenberg! The Musical!  (2005)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Scott Brown, Anthony King

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In the Green  (2019)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Grace McLean

Musical Info ➝


Miss Littlewood  (2018)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Sam Kenyon

Musical Info ➝


Nevermore  (2010)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jonathan Christenson

Musical Info ➝


Queen of the Mist  (2011)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa

Musical Info ➝


Road Show  (2003)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: John Weidman

Musical Info ➝


Scandalous  (2005)

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

Musical Info ➝


Six  (2017)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Toby Marlow, Lucy Moss

Musical Info ➝


Starry  (2019)

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

Musical Info ➝


Stephen Ward  (2013)

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

Musical Info ➝


The Hello Girls  (2019)

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

Musical Info ➝


The Scottsboro Boys  (2010)

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

Musical Info ➝


The View UpStairs  (2017)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Max Vernon

Musical Info ➝


Witness Uganda  (2014)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Matt Gould, Griffin Matthews

Musical Info ➝


2020s Musicals

Space Dogs

Music/Lyrics/Book: Nick Blaemire, Van Hughes

Musical Info ➝


Tokyo Rose

Music/Lyrics/Book: Maryhee Yoon, Cara Baldwin

Musical Info ➝


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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