10 plays and musicals inspired by true stories in the West End
The West End is full of original stories, but a piece of theatre has an extra edge when you know the events playing out on stage have actually taken place somewhere in the world. There are always plays and musicals based or inspired by true stories in the West End, so here, we round up ten of the best right now.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s American history musical is probably as comprehensive as biographical theatre gets, spanning founding father Alexander Hamilton’s entire adult life over the course of two-and-a-half hours. From joining the revolution to becoming George Washington’s right-hand man, from the birth of his daughter to the birth of America, Hamilton packs it all in at a pace that keeps its audience involved and engaged with its superlative hip-hop score. Musical theatre buff? History buff? You’ll be both by the time you leave this room where it happened…
Hamilton tickets are available now.
While this musical is associated with one of the darkest days in America’s history, Come From Away is, for the most part, a thoroughly uplifting musical about the power and kindness of strangers. Thirty-eight planes were diverted en route as a safety precaution in the direct aftermath of 9/11, and forced to land in the small Canadian town of Gander. With a population 12,000, an extra 6,500 passengers to feed, water and house could have driven any other town to breaking point. But not these Islanders, who opened their homes and their hearts in a real time of need.
Come From Away tickets are available now.
Tina Turner is known as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with hits like “River Deep – Mountain High”, “Proud Mary” and “Proud Mary” on her setlist. But this musical delves into the backstory of the incredible woman. Having grown up in tiny settlement of Nutbush, Tennessee, Turner had her sights set on fame and music which crossed her path with that of musician and her future husband, Ike Turner. This infamous story is told on stage in a storming production which recreates some iconic Turner moments.
Tina the Musical tickets are available now.
Six is one history lesson you won’t be falling asleep in. We know the rhyme to remember the fate of Henry VIII’s wives, but Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow’s cult hit musical will have a whole host of new songs about the ladies ringing around your head. Each wife takes the spotlight to tell her story, all with their own distinct style reminiscent of the likes of Lily Allen, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande. Six has officially made history cool again.
Six the Musical tickets are available now.
This original British musical is probably as British as you can get: based on a BBC Three documentary, set to music from the frontman of indie rock band The Feeling, and set in a comprehensive school in Sheffield, it tells the real-life story of Jamie Campbell, a teenage boy who defied the bullies and wore a dress to his school prom. It’s based on the doc which followed Campbell around his hometown, and songwriter Dan Gillespie Sells has teamed up with writer Tom MacRae to invent one of the most sensitive and joyful productions in the West End.
Everybody's Talking About Jamie tickets are available now.
While climbing a mountain is a pretty daunting task to embark on, staging a convincing play about a climber stuck on the side of a mountain is also quite a feat. Director Tom Morris has pulled the tricks out of the bag in Touching the Void which dramatizes Joe Simpson’s 1988 memoir of the same name. During a climb in 1985, Simpson was lucky to return from his climb in the Andes, which saw him stuck with a broken leg 3,000m up the side of a freezing mountain.
Ben Elton’s BBC comedy about William Shakespeare is set for the stage, and while it’s not a verbatim account of the Bard’s life, it certainly is based on key facts from the life and times of the writer. Many episodes from the TV original see Shakespeare writing his various plays, and they are packed with jokes and quips about his much-speculated life.
Upstart Crow tickets are available now.
The Drifters are one of the biggest-selling RnB groups of all-time, but they have a fascinating history which will be adapted for the stage. Beverley Knight is set to star as the group’s manager Faye Treadwell who fought to make the band a success, with several rounds of legal action along the way. It promises to include some of the group’s biggest numbers like “Save the Last Dance for Me”, “Stand By Me” and “Under the Boardwalk”.
The Drifters Girl tickets are available now
Tom Stoppard’s new play is being billed as a sweeping drama set in Vienne over the first half of the 20th century, exploring what it meant to be Jewish during a trying period. In an interview, Stoppard, whose four grandparents and other members of his parents’ generation died in Nazi concentration camps, revealed the play is quite ‘personal’ in contrast to his usual style.
Leopoldstadt tickets are available now.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical is based on the life of Eva Peron, following her life childhood to becoming the first lady of Argentina and an icon of international politics. It features musical theatre classics like “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” and “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”, and Jamie Lloyd’s Open Air Theatre production is set to return to London in 2020.
Evita tickets are available now.