broadway The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

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List Rules Vote up the best musicals that first debuted off-Broadway.

Although many people might not be aware - it’s true. Some of the greatest, most beloved Broadway musicals started out as off-Broadway productions. This includes fan favorites such as Rent, Godspell, and Hair, which have all seen multiple production runs and revivals. This list contains the greatest shows to make the jump from off-Broadway to Broadway.

What is the difference between Broadway and off-Broadway? At the most basic level, Broadway shows are staged in theaters with 500 or more seats, while off-Broadway shows are staged in theaters with between 100 and 499 seats. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but essentially, off-Broadway productions are smaller. It doesn’t mean, however, that off-Broadway productions aren’t as good, and as this list proves, many off-Broadway productions do make it to Broadway, due to their great success.

A fantastic example of a great musical that started off-Broadway is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. A favorite show among musical theater fans, the show first ran off-Broadway in 1981, then moved to Broadway the next year. It also received multiple Tony Award nominations, giving it a place on this list of the most celebrated musicals that got their beginnings off-Broadway.

This list comprises those musicals for which off-Broadway jut wasn't enough. From hugely successful shows such as A Chorus Line to lesser-known but still deserving productions such as Starmites, they’re all here. Cast your votes below to rank this list of the greatest musicals that started off-Broadway.

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Little Shop of Horrors Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

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A Chorus Line Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

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Grease Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

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Rent Jonathan Larson

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Hair Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

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Godspell John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

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Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Hamilton

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Avenue Q Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

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Spring Awakening Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

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Heathers the Musical

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Rock of Ages Chris D'Arienzo

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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

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In the Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

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Next to Normal Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

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Once Upon a Mattress Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

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Fun Home is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Fun Home Lisa Kron , Jeanine Tesori

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Stephen Trask , John Cameron Mitchell

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Urinetown Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis

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Sunday in the Park with George James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

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Grey Gardens Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Doug Wright

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Once on This Island Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

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The Life Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, David Newman

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Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in '... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk Reg E. Gaines, Zane Mark, George C. Wolfe

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A Year with Frog and Toad Willie Reale, Robert Reale

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Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Falsettos James Lapine, William Finn

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Leader of the Pack is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Leader of the Pack Jeff Barry, Jeff Kent, Ellen Foley

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The Me Nobody Knows Gary William Friedman, Will Holt

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Caroline, or Change Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner

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A Class Act Edward Kleban

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James Joyce's the Dead Shaun Davey, Richard Nelson

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Runaways Elizabeth Swados

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Passing Strange Heidi Rodewald, Stew

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Romance/Romance Barry Michael Harman, Keith Harman

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Contact is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Contact John Weidman

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Tintypes is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Tintypes Mel Marvin, Gary Pearle

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Blues in the Night is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Blues in the Night Sheldon Epps

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Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Melvin Van Peebles

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Starmites is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Starmites Barry Keating, Stuart Ross