Friday, July 20, 2018

The Friday 5: 5 Musicals About Real People


So, last week's Friday 5 got me to thinking.  Actually, including Hands on a Hardbody, got me to thinking... about musicals that are about real people.  And I'm not talking about bio-musicals like Beautiful or Jersey Boys, either - not that either one would make my top 5 list. Obviously, for a variety of reasons, each of the shows below are somewhat fictionalized for the stage, but each are about people that actually existed. There are many, but these are my 5 favorites (presented alphabetically):

A Chorus Line
1st alphabetically, and 1st in my heart, if I'm being honest. One of the greatest musicals of all time was a phenomenon unlike any other, and long before Cats, Rent or Hamilton. The story put the people in the background all the way front and center. Based on a collection of taped group chat sessions held by Michael Bennett, the show won a zillion awards, including the Tony for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. After 15 years on Broadway, it was the longest-running show in history for a very long time. It was, and is, one singular sensation!

Come From Away
Never mind the fantastic staging by Tony-winner Christopher Ashley or the tuneful score by some unknown Canadians, this show is a thrilling, exuberant celebration of the very best that human beings are capable of. Complete strangers opening their homes and their hearts is a reminder that great things can come from devastating things. We all come from away, they say. Powerful.

Speaking of powerful, this musical has attitude, flair, and these days, a universality that maybe wasn't there when this was new. Tuneful, rousing and thought-provoking, this story of a woman's rise to power is hard to resist. Does it get much better than "A Waltz for Eva and Che"?

Fun Home
Parent-child relationships, being true to yourself, and coming to terms with your past are but a few of the universal themes this stunning, modern musical explores, all while telling the heartbreaking real-life story of author Alison Bechdel. Laughter and tears abound...and you don't have to be a lesbian to understand a "Ring of Keys" moment.

I loved this stunning masterpiece from the moment I saw one of the first, troubled, previews. Well, the ship may have sunk, but this glorious musical with a ravishing score was a sight to behold. When the ship sank, we gasped. When the poorer passengers got trapped in the wreckage, we wept. And when it was over, we cheered. The fate of that ship has been the subject of human fascination for over a hundred years. And the musical was a beautiful tribute to very real people history still hasn't forgotten.

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