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American politics have long been an inspiration for the arts – with literature, films, music, and theatre. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate or observe Presidents’ Day, peruse the following musicals and plays that reflect American history.
By: Peter Stone, Sherman Edwards
Showcasing the founding of the United States, 1776 follows the Continental Congress as they plan and execute independence from Great Britain. Major players in the musical include the passionate but hard-to-like John Adams; the determined and stoic George Washington; and Thomas Jefferson, wordsmith extraordinaire. Described as a “brilliant imagining of American history,” 1776 brings humor, nuance, and humanity to one of modern history’s most interesting timelines.
By: John Weidman, Stephen Sondheim
Described as ‘darkly humorous,’ this Sondheim creation follows nine men and women who all have one thing in common: they wish to assassinate a U.S. president. Motivated by entitlement and betrayal, the assassins have been left disappointed by U.S. democracy and the ideal of the American Dream.
By: Alex Timbers, Michael Freedman
As you may have guessed, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson follows this titular (and often despised) president from his beginnings in impoverished Tennessee to his run-ins with the British, Spanish, and Native American populations. Utilizing a hard rock score, the musical delves into Jacksons’ many controversial and unpopular decisions throughout his whirlwind political career.
By: Leonard Berstein, Alan Jay Lerner
Although 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was considered a “flop” during its short Broadway run, the musical has since seen a resurgence in popularity. The show follows the inhabitants and happenings in the White House from 1800-1900, primarily focused on race relations. Topics covered include Thomas Jefferson’s affair with a slave, James Monroe’s refusal to halt the act of slavery, the aftermath of the American Civil War, and Andrew Johnson’s tumultuous impeachment.
By: Frank Wildhorn, Gregory Boyd
Utilizing historical documents, letters, diary entries, and poetry from Walt Whitman, The Civil War explores the defining moments of America’s inception. Beginning at the start of the war at Fort Sumter, The Civil War depicts the effort to abolish slavery and the negative impact of war on families around the U.S.
By: Peter Morgan
Based on real interviews between journalist David Frost and Ex-President Richard Nixon, Frost/Nixon follows the British writer as he flies to the U.S. for the interview of a lifetime. Both men are disgraced in their respective fields – and both are determined to use these interviews as a means of redemption. The show, in short, encapsulates the political, media, and cultural fever of the mid-seventies in the U.S.
By: Robert Schenkkan
All the Way takes place soon after Lyndon B. Johnson is sworn in as president, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Determined to end racial injustice in America, LBJ works diligently to pass a landmark civil rights bill during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Going behind closed doors, All the Way showcases LBJ’s relationship with Martin Luther King Jr. as well as other political peers during a reformative time in U.S. history.
By: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Timbers
This Pulitzer prize-winning musical is based on Ron Chernow’s biography, Hamilton. The music follows the titular Alexander Hamilton from his humble beginnings in the Caribbean to his ascent to the highest echelons of American politics. Utilizing rap and hip-hop, Hamilton sets out to honor (and at times, reprimand) the man who helped shape the United States.
Allegiance – 2015 – Jay Kuo, Marc Acito, and Lorenzo Thione
Amazing Grace – 2015 – Christopher Smith and Arthur Giron
Annie Get Your Gun – 1946 – Irving Berlin, Dorothy Fields, Herbert Fields, and Peter Stone
Call Me Madam – 1950 – Irving Berlin, Russel Crouse, and Howard Lindsay
Teddy & Alice – 1987 – Jerome Alden, John Philip Sousa, Richard Kapp, and Hal Hackady
Annie – 1977 –Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse, and Martin Charnin
If you’ve got Presidents’ Day off – or just have some time to brainstorm ways to improve your theatre – On The Stage can help. Book a personalized demo today to discuss the many avenues that OTS can use to elevate your theatre experience, with best-in-class ticketing, software, marketing, and fundraising suites.