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Breakdown: Just How Rare Is Hamilton’s Pulitzer Win?

Hi All, Rebecca here, with your Dramaturg’s Notebook of Information following the win of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s HAMILTON win last week.

Since the 1930s, a Pulitzer Prize has been awarded to a musical once per decade in the category of Pulitzer Prize for Drama. When reviewing these winners, please note that we are counting each decade as “1931-1940, 1941-1950, 1951-1960…” and so on. Further explanation? South Pacific opened in 1949. Due to the timeline of nominations and Pulitzer announcements, it received its Pulitzer in 1950.

Here’s a quick breakdown, decade by decade:

1931-1940

Of Thee I Sing – 1932
Music by George Gershwin
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
Book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind

Quick Plot: Lampooning musical revolving around American politics; follow John P. Wintergreen, as he runs for President, on the platform of “Love.”

Clip Below: Papermill Playhouse of New Jersey 2012 Montage Video from Of Thee I Sing

1941-1950

South Pacific – 1950
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan

Quick Plot: Musical centering around the 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener.

Clip Below: Montage of songs from 1958 film South Pacific

1951-1960

Fiorello! – 1960
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Book by Jerome Weidman and George Abbot

Quick Plot: Musical revolving around reform Republican Fiorello H. LaGuardia as he takes on the political machine known as Tammany Hall.

Clip Below: NYU Steinhardt’s production of Fiorello! September , 2012

1961-1970

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – 1962
Music by Frank Loesser
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert

Quick Plot: Musical revolving J. Pierrepont Finch and his rise to the chairman of the board of wthe World Wide Wicket Company

Clip Below: Daniel Radcliffe performs “Brotherhood of Man” on the 2011 Tony Awards broadcast.

1971-1980

A Chorus Line – 1976
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Lyrics by Edward Kleban
Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante

Quick Plot: Based on the true stories of performers’ and choreographers’ decisions to become professional dancers

Clip Below: A Chorus Line 1976 Tony Awards (“I Hope I Get It”- Company)

1981-1990

Sunday in the Park with George – 1985
Music by Stephen Sondheim
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine

Quick Plot: Musical inspired by George Seurat and his painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”

Clip Below: 1984 Tony Awards, Sunday in the Park with George

1991-2000

Rent – 1996
Music, Lyrics, and Book by Jonathan Larson

Quick Plot: Loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Boheme, musical revolves around young artists struggling in New York City

Clip Below: 1996 Tony Performance

2001-2010

Next to Normal – 2010
Music by Tom Kitt
Lyrics by Brian Yorkey
Book by Brian Yorkey

Quick Plot: Musical revolving around the struggles of a family member with bipolar disorder and the effects this illness has on those in her family

Clip Below: 2009 Tony Performance

2011-

Hamilton – 2016
Music, Lyrics, and Book by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Quick Plot: The life and death of Alexander Hamilton

Clip Below: Broadway.com’s Montage of Hamilton

BONUS CLIP:

“What I Did For Love”

Hamilton cast honors A Chorus Line on the anniversary of their first performance at The Public Theatre in NYC

Written by Rebecca Quirk

Rebecca Quirk is a dramaturg, full-time nerd, and obsessed with random trivia. She has her MFA from the Playwright's Lab at Hollins University. "Did you know hedgehogs float?"

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