Broadway moves towards realism


Photo via Wikipedia

Seeing the show live is a major bucket list item for most any theatergoer, so to have this phenomenal show in Pittsburgh is amazing in itself. Still, Hamilton’s performance manages to outshine the hype.

Elizabeth Solenday, Copy Chief


Everyone has heard of Hamilton, and how it uses a diverse cast and modern music to make an old story relevant today.

But Hamilton is far from the first musical to use realism to help tell a story.

One of the first musicals to use realism was Rent, which is a story of friends living in New York City during the 1980s AIDs crisis.

Rent puts a human face to the AIDs crisis, introducing audiences to people facing death, wishing to live life one day at a time.

This revolutionized musical theater, and it brought audiences to the theater that might not have been expected from Broadway.

Another example of realism in theater is Hairspray.

Hairspray is about the anti-segregation movements of the 1960s, but also features an unlikely romance and a corny TV show.

Unlike Rent, its serious message somewhat masked by the music, which has more of an upbeat tune.

Most recently, shows like Next to Normal, and Dear Evan Hansen have dealt with realism.

Some do not understand why audiences are so drawn to a musical about a Founding Father, but Hamilton takes what could be an old, somewhat boring musical and adds hip-hop and rap.

Hamilton has brought younger people and people of all races to see Hamilton, and has more people to care about the history covered in the show.

Using a cast of mostly people of color, Hamilton shows audiences America’s past told by America’s present.

Most recently, Dear Evan Hansen, which open late 2016, tells a story of a high school boy with social anxiety, who is slowly learning how he may fit in as he so desperately wants.

Dear Evan Hansen helps give some high school students a chance to see themselves through the title character.

Similarly, Next to Normal deals with mental health and family issues.

History shows that people do still want some escapism in theater, but as time goes on there is no doubt there will be more musicals that have realistic plot, characters, theme, and music.