Here were the great ideas that were submitted for historically inspired musicals:
I would really enjoy a musical based on the Brown v. Board of Education court case. It would make a great large-cast musical with a traditional score. Each of the thirteen plaintiffs would tell their story, similar to A Chorus Line, and it would end with the ruling being made.
After learning a little about the interesting relationship between Clara Wieck, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahmes, I believe that Clara's life would make an excellent musical, play or movie. Clara was a talented musician who is too often overshadowed by the famous composers she loved and helped promote.
Might be interesting to do a musical from the McCarthy Era and Cold War. So many interesting things happened during that time that we often forget about: suspecting spies, going against Communism, JFK, his assassination, MLK assassination, McCarthism, etc.
I think it'd be pretty hilarious to have a Dada musical, although I cannot imagine how bizarre that music would be or if the songs would be very, uh, catchy. Frida Kahlo would be a really fascinating subject as well, or a really intimate Emily Dickinson musical, or one about the sculptor Camille Claudel and how Auguste Rodin ruined her life. Or does Einstein have a musical yet? That would be brilliant.
I'm afraid the South Park folks may be about to corner the market on religious satire musicalizations, but I always thought Jimmy Swaggart & the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries would make a fascinating, hilarious subject for a stage musical. I'm picturing a flashy gospel-rock score, big musical numbers with a chorus of singing, dancing prostitutes & a huge, tear-filled 11 o'clock number. (Damn. I really WOULD like to see that.)
I also think that Phil Spector's life & music would make for a more riveting & satisfying night at the theater than a show about the Four Seasons. It could be a jukebox musical like Jersey Boys, only exponentially more interesting (and I'm sorry to say, better music)!
I guess I'm more into contemporary figures. It's hard to pull off a major period musical. But I guess Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson defied the odds!
This is an obscure choice, but I wrote a paper years ago on female spies in the Office of Strategic Services during WWII, and one of the spies, Virginia Hall, had this incredible life story. She was set to join the Foreign Service in the 30s until she suffered a hunting accident that forced the amputation of her leg... but that didn't stop her from driving ambulances in France. When France was invaded, she worked for the Resistance, parachuting behind enemy lines, leading multiple guerrilla forces against the Germans, even escaping France at one point by crossing the Pyrenees on foot in November! Generally a very badass lady with a great story of overcoming disability to further her passion for the cause... I envision some pretty intense dramatic/suspenseful numbers, and a comedic one when she decided to nickname her wooden leg "Clyde."
Thanks again for all the thoughtful comments!