Musicals Based on True Stories – A Full List

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 click 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

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The Desert Song (1926)

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

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Golden Age Musicals (1940-1959)

Up in Central Park (1945)

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

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Fiorello! (1959)

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

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Post-Golden Age Musicals (1960s)

Jennie (1963)

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

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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, Mary Cohan Book: Michael Stewart, John Pascal, Francine Pascal

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Maggie Flynn (1968)

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

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Coco (1969)

Music: André Previn Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

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Jimmy (1969)

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

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1970s Musicals

Minnie’s Boys (1970)

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

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Goodtime Charley (1975)

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

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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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They’re Playing Our Song (1978)

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

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1980s Musicals

Barnum (1980)

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

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The Biograph Girl (1980)

Music/Lyrics/Book: David Heneker, Warner Brown

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Dreamgirls (1981)

Music: Henry Krieger Lyrics/Book: Tom Eye

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Mayor (1985)

Music/Lyrics: Charles Strouse Book: Warren Light

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Sarafina! (1987)

Music: Mbongini Ngema

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1990s Musicals

Jelly’s Last Jam (1992)

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

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Floyd Collins (1994)

Music/Lyrics: Adam Guettel Book: Tina Landau

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Kat and the Kings (1996)

Music: Taliep Petersen Lyrics/Book: David Kramer

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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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A New Brain (1998)

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

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Parade (1998)

Music/Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown Book: Alfred Uhry

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2000s Musicals

A Class Act (2000)

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

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Road Show (2003)

Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: John Weidman

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Gutenberg! The Musical! (2005)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Scott Brown, Anthony King

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Scandalous (2005)

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

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Chaplin (2006)

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

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LoveMusik (2007)

Music: Kurt Weill Lyrics: Various Book: Alfred Uhry

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The Hatpin (2008)

Music: Peter Rutherford Lyrics/Book: James Miller

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Bonnie & Clyde (2009)

Music: Frank Wildhorn Lyrics: Don Black Book: Ivan Menchel

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2010s Musicals

Nevermore (2010)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Jonathan Christensen

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The Scottsboro Boys (2010)

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

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Queen of the Mist (2011)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Michael John LaChiusa

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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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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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Stephen Ward (2013)

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

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21 Chump Street (2014)

Music/Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

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Witness Uganda (2014)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Matt Gould, Griffin Matthews

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Six (2017)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Toby Marlow, Lucy Moss

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The View UpStairs (2017)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Max Vernon

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Miss Littlewood (2018)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Sam Kenyon

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Diana (2019)

Music/Lyrics/Book: David Bryan, Joe DiPietro

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In the Green (2019)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Grace McLean

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Starry (2019)

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

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The Hello Girls (2019)

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

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2020s Musicals

We Won’t Sleep

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

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Tokyo Rose

Music/Lyrics/Book: Maryhee Yoon, Cara Baldwin

Musical Info ➝

Want a weekly list of “stagey” surprises?

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? We would love to hear all about your favorites in the comments below! In the meantime, you might enjoy our fully organized musical database.

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

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

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