BY: PHEOBE HORIBE
I think plays tend to get the reputation for being more political than musicals, but maybe you didn’t realize there have been a lot of musicals with political figures in them. I didn’t even realize how many there were until I wrote this article. Some of them are real and some of them are made up, but all of them are just trying to make their country or town a better place. A better place for who exactly? Well, that’s up for debate. Here’s a list of some of the most memorable fictitious and IRL American politicians who have ever graced the Great Bright Way!
Alexander Hamilton in Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton truly lived the American Dream. He was an immigrant who came from nothing: no family, no money, and no formal education. He married well, worked hard, and went to college to become one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. It could have been easy for him to just give up and stay in the Caribbean and be dead by his teen years, but he fought hard and made it to the top. He took risks and was eager which eventually paid off for him — well, professionally at least. He was young, scrappy, and hungry and he was not throwing away his shot! Also, if you’re taking a break from watching Hamilton on Disney+ to read my article — I’m honored.
John Adams in 1776
1776 is more focused on Founding Father, John Adams. Adams wanted independence for America from the British rule and to become their own sovereign. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t liked very much, so no one wanted to even consider the idea (womp womp). Adams doesn’t come up with this idea, but Benjamin Franklin says the proposal might be considered if someone else pitched it. They get Richard Henry Lee to propose it and what do you know, the people go for it. The great idea Adams does comes up with is to make the eagle our national symbol, so there’s that.
Mayor Shinn in The Music Man
Who is the ultimate example of Iowa stubborn? Why, none other than Mayor Shinn who is determined to keep River City in line. He has to look out for his family and a city so he doesn’t trust outsiders, especially ones that are trying to sell something. He just wants to make sure Professor Harold Hill has credentials and is legit. He finally gets the reassurance he’s been looking for and the real intentions of Harold Hill are revealed. Still, he sees Harold Hill’s change of heart and ends up marching along side him in the end. Mayor Shinn is actually pretty smart, so give him a little credit, even if he doesn’t always say the right thing. Side note: This is one of Scott Rudin’s highly buzzed-about musicals that’s headed to Broadway when theaters reopen next year. Hugh Jackman is signed on to star and the show will take over the Winter Garden Theatre — the one Beetlejuice was somewhat infamously booted from before every theater shuttered.
President Henderson in Mr. President
Alright, did y’all know that there was a whole musical about a fictional president and his family? I certainly did not. It’s about President Henderson and his Secret Service agent who is in love with his daughter. Yeah, it’s an interesting plot. Plus, he befriends the Soviet Union during the Cold War and doesn’t get re-elected, and honestly who wants to keep up with the mundane life of a President after their term is up? Still, in the end, being friends with the Soviet Union works in his favor, so I guess that’s a happy ending.
President Andrew Jackson in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Is this a real or made-up politician? Well, a little bit of both. It’s about the seventh president of the U.S., Andrew Jackson, but not like you learned about in history books. This Andrew Jackson is a sexy rockstar! I mean who wouldn’t want a rockstar as a president? There are worse things the president could be (amirite?). Andrew Jackson didn’t win his first election due to corruption of the House of Representatives, but you know what they say; if at first you don’t succeed, make a brand new political party in your favor.
Governor John Slaton in Parade
Governor Slaton was the Governor of Georgia in 1913. He doesn’t want the public to look at politicians in a negative light and when the murder of Mary Phagan happens, he orders the District attorney to clear it up as quickly as possible. Leo Frank was an easy target, and he’s Jewish and let me tell you how anti-semetic the town of Marietta is in 1913: Very. However, once Governor Slaton learns more facts and realizes Leo is innocent without a doubt, he changes his death penalty to life imprisonment. Improvement, right? I guess. Governor Slaton may have had a small change of heart but the rest of the community might not feel the same way.
Judge Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma!
Andrew Carnes is not only the judge in the town, he’s also a dad. He might not care who Ado Annie marries, but you know, $50 from Will for Ado’s hand in marriage oughta make him a happy man! Okay, he isn’t exactly the ideal dad, and letting Curly off for killing Judd isn’t ideal either, but hey. It’s all Claremore has.
Now all I want to know is what will be the next political musical. I would definitely pay to see a musical about Michelle Obama becoming the President of the United States. (Make it happen, theater gods!)