Inspiration is what drives people to create, and artists can find their muse in every little detail (or story!) of our world. There’s no shortage of literature, music, or visual arts the roots of which lie in the real world – after all, art is a reflection of the world around us. Broadway is no stranger in adapting real-life stories, and to such a way of writing, and today we’re looking at several examples of such characters.
When it comes to writing characters with fascinating stories, as much as we all love fiction, there’s something in a “based on a true story” tag that just takes the relatability of the art piece to the next level. What better source material (if you could call someone’s biography “source material”!) than events that already happened to people who have already lived in our very own world (and maybe even our lifetimes).
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece of a play takes one of America’s Founding Fathers to the stage in what’s easily Broadway’s most talked-about act. Alexander Hamilton is a historical figure, a senior officer in the US Army, and the first Secretary of Treasury. If the protagonist isn’t impressive enough on his own, he’s supported (and opposed) by an equally well-written (and historically important) cast of characters – antagonist Aaron Burr, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, just to name a few.
The story of Lady D’s rise to Royal celebrity status is surely familiar to everyone at this point. David Bryan and Joe DiPietro’s musical takes pride in being true to the source material and the realism of its characters, including the Prince of Wales and the Queen. Diana herself is presented as someone who knows how to handle herself rather well, her ability to turn everything in her favor garnering media attention with every step.
Having not one, but two musicals dedicated to your life surely means you’ve done a thing or two right. Following 2012’s “Soul Sister”, “Tina” brings the story of the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll to the Broadway stage. The play follows the life of Tina Turner, the alias of Anna Mae Bullock, from her humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, up to her huge concert in Brazil and the following skyrocketing into world stardom.
The main arc of the story is her love life, her relationship with Ike Turner (both personal and professional), his vicious temper and everything that comes with it.
You can’t, of course, have the story of Tina Turner without mentioning her entire career, starting as a choir girl in Tennessee and making her way to Las Vegas shows and becoming a world music star.
These three stories, needless to say, represent only a small part of Broadway’s catalog of acts inspired by real-life persons and events, and could also prove useful as a beginner’s entry guide to the world of Broadway!