My biannual Fourth of July poll: What is your favorite Broadway musical that takes actual American history as its subject?
I’ve made a couple of changes this year. Since every poll since 2016 has put “Hamilton” number one by a large margin, I”m leaving it out of the poll this year. And I’m also adding three non-musical plays. So, to those enamored of Hamilton, what I’m asking, in effect, is what’s your second favorite musical? You can choose up to two from the list below, or add your own choice. Below the poll is a quick description of the shows.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Music by: Leonard Bernstein; Book and lyrics by: Alan Jay Lerner
The story of the White House occupants from 1800–1900,
Music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards. Book by Peter Stone
The deliberations that led the Founding Fathers to sign the Declaration of Independence. A revival of the musical is aiming for Broadway in 2021.
All The Way
Robert Schenkkan’s play about President Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Music and lyrics by Jay Kuo
Book by Mark Acito, Jay Kuo, and Lorenzo Thione
The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, told through a fictional family inspired by George Takei’s.
Annie Get Your Gun
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Dorothy Fields, Herbert Fields, and Peter Stone
Based on the story of American sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her romance with competitor Frank Butler of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West traveling show.
Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
The men and women who tried to assassinate U.S. Presidents, some successfully.
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Music and lyrics by Michael Friedman
Book by Alex Timbers
A campy unflattering dramatization of the life of President Andrew Jackson
Call Me Madam
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay
A satire inspired by socialite and ambassador Perle Mesta
The Civil War
Music by Frank Wildhorn
Lyrics by Jack Murphy
Book by Gregory Boyd and Frank Wildhorn
The conflict from differing perspectives –Union, soldiers, Confederate soldiers, and slaves.
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Book by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott
The life of New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia
Written by Peter Morgan
British journalist David Frost’s interviews with disgraced former President Richard Nixon, trying to get him to apologize for Watergate.
The Great Society
Robert Schenkkan’s sequel to All The Way, following LBJ to the end of his presidency
Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Alfred Uhry
The 1913 trial and subsequent lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory superintended accused of raping and murdering an employee in Atlanta, Georgia.
book by Joseph Stein (with revisions by David Thompson), lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and music by Charles Strouse.
Jewish immigrants in 1910 discover that America does not deliver what they thought it promised even as they find romance, fight for labor equality
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Book by Terrence McNally
Through fictional portraits and real-life events from the turn of the 20th century, the musical explores such issues as racial tension, the fight for labor rights, and the struggle of immigrants.
The Scottsboro Boys
Music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb
Book by David Thompson
Structured as a minstrel show, the musical tells the true story of nine black teens in 1931 jailed for a rape they did not commit, which became a cause célèbre.