When a Musical Wins a Pulitzer Prize

2016 is the one hundredth anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize.  During those one hundred years, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama has been given to a musical on nine different occasions. Almost once per decade. 

While none of the other musicals may have actually affected our currency the way Hamilton has, they are all important in different ways. These musicals run the gamut from an intense exploration of a mental breakdown to a romantic comedy set in a dysfunctional mega-business. All of them push the boundaries of musical theater with surprising, dynamic scores and all are available to check out at an SCCLD library.
Of Thee I Sing 
1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

This satirical musical about a presidential candidate who runs on the "love" platform and then actually falls in love with the wrong woman is the first musical to win the Pulitzer Prize. It features music by the great George Gershwin. This 1989 recording was adapted by San Francisco conductor and Gershwin expert, Michael Tilson Thomas
South Pacific
1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

This musical, which famously took on the subject of racial strife and romance on a south pacific island during World War II, created a sensation on Broadway almost as big as Hamilton's today. The gorgeous Rodgers and Hammerstein score featuring "Some Enchanted Evening" was hugely popular and the show broke Broadway box office records. It is also the only Pulitzer musical based on Pulitzer Prize winning novel, James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific. There is a 1954 film adaptation and a 2008 Tony Award winning revival.
1960 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

This musical about New York City mayor, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, also won the Tony award for Best Musical. Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock (of Fiddler on the Roof) wrote the music and lyrics.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Broadway Composer/Lyricist Frank Loesser spun Shepherd Mead's satirical "self help" manual into Broadway gold. While the show's all male executive board may seem dated today, the skewering of big business is timeless. The show was made into a 1967 film with much of the Broadway cast and was successfully revived on Broadway twice, most recently with Daniel Radcliffe in 2011.
A Chorus Line
1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

One singular sensation indeed. This Tony winning musical about a group of dancers preparing for a Broadway show became the longest running musical in history until the nineties. Marvin Hamlisch's score includes "What I Did for Love" which remains an often recorded standard. The musical was turned into a 1985 movie and also successfully revived on Broadway in 2006.

Sunday in the Park With George
1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim (of Into the Woods) first teamed up for this musical about art and the life of the French Impressionist, Georges Seurat. The beautiful staging which recreated the artist's most famous painting on stage (see above image) as well as the parallel modern story makes this a remarkable live stage experience. The musical has been filmed for television with the original Broadway cast and successfully revived on Broadway in 2008.
1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Jonathan Larson's musical caused a sensation on its release quickly moving from off Broadway to on and capturing the attention of the country for tunefully exploring characters on the edge of homelessness dealing with AIDS and drug addiction. Larson's untimely death tarnished the celebration around the acclaim he received. The show was turned into a popular 2005 film featuring most of the original Broadway cast and in 2009 a final stage performance was filmed.
Next to Normal
2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey teamed up to create an intense rock musical about a mother dealing with a degenerating bipolar condition and how her attempts to help herself affect her family.  
2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

This is composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda's second Broadway musical (after In the Heights) and the second time he has received attention from the Pulitzer committee and a Grammy Award for his work. With two musicals, he has become the most acclaimed and important Broadway composer of his generation. 

Musicals That Have Won the Pulitzer Prize

Check out more music and movies!
Thank you for listing and introducing these musicals. I recently learned that a musical could win a Pulitzer, and I was curious about them.
4/26/2016 10:25:50 PM

Interesting -- I want to check a couple of these out.
4/25/2016 11:40:14 AM

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