Learning history doesn’t have to be boring. Put down those dusty textbooks and take a trip to the theater instead. You can learn about prominent historical figures and some of the most exciting events in history at these six musicals inspired by history.
Narrated by the voice of revolutionary Che Guevara, this musical details the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón. The musical most closely resembles a rock opera, as the dialogue is almost completely sung and rarely spoken. Evita follows Perón on her journey from a teenager in a provincial town to the First Lady of Argentina and the resistance she faced on her climb up the political ladder.
Perhaps one of the most famous musicals inspired by history, Hamilton became a world-wide phenomenon following its Broadway debut in 2015. This musical follows founding father Alexander Hamilton’s rise to political fame and examines the turbulent relationships he had with other historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Turning traditional expectations of musical theatre on its head, this show combines the style of classic show tunes with hip-hop and rap elements to create an entirely new experience for theatergoers.
Set during the American Revolution, 1776 helps fill in some of the gaps that Hamilton doesn’t cover. This musical follows America’s second president, John Adams, as he attempts to convince fellow members of the Continental Congress to vote for American independence. Chronicling the creation of the Declaration of Independence and featuring founding fathers Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, 1776 expertly details the struggles these men endured in their fight for freedom.
Come from Away
Recent musical Come from Away highlights a lesser-known story about one of the most horrible moments in history. Set in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, this musical tells the story of 38 planes that were ordered to land in Canada immediately following the 9/11 attacks. Based on real first-hand accounts of the stranded travelers and Gander residents, this moving musical shows the power of community and the overwhelming capacity for compassion in the wake of tragedy.
In real life, people rarely break out into song and dance while walking down the street—but that’s not the case in Tony Award-winner Newsies. Set just before the turn of the 19th century, this musical delves into the New York City newsboys’ strike of 1899. While the main characters in this musical are fictional, several historical figures—including Joseph Pulitzer and Teddy Roosevelt—do make appearances.
Bonnie & Clyde
One of the most infamous criminal couples throughout history, Bonnie and Clyde gained notoriety as bank robbers during the Great Depression. Combining blues, folk music, and gospel, this musical follows the notorious couple in their early years as petty criminals and through their descent into more heinous crimes.