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The Best Broadway Musicals of the '70s

Updated April 14, 2021 6.3k votes 1.4k voters 100.2k views35 items

What were the most popular and greatest Broadway musicals of the 70s? This list ranks the top Broadway musicals that first debuted in the 1970s. From Annie to Godspell, the 1970s produced some of the most groundbreaking shows in musical theater history. This list has the top Broadway musicals from the 1970s as ranked by theater lovers.

The 1970s proved to be a great time for change and growth on Broadway. Gone were the days of Oklahoma! and other conventional Broadway styles. Shows such as A Chorus Line found major success by combining music with dancing and other such theatrics. Musical Broadway in the 70s also saw the rise of two famous composers, Andrew Lloyd Webber (Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar) and Stephen Sondheim (Sweeney Todd).

In the 70s, movie musicals also saw a rise following the success of Grease both on stage and off. Rock music began dominating the stage, over traditional Broadway styles, and thrived in shows such as The Me Nobody Knows and gave birth to the "rock opera," like Jesus Christ Superstar, by combining dialogue and music. 

The 1970s proved to be a decade of innovation and excitement in both musical and Broadway history. Vote up the best 1970s Broadway musical below and see where the musicals you think are the greatest of this era rank.
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  • 1

    Chicago

    Bob Fosse , Fred Ebb
    372
    156

    CharactersVelma Kelly, Billy Flynn, Roxie Hart, Amos Hart, Matron "Mama" Morton

    Chicago (Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville) is an American musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Jazz-age Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926...  more

    #2 of 87 The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time#7 of 186 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked#5 of 66 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals

  • 2

    Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

    Hugh Wheeler , Stephen Sondheim
    305
    122

    CharactersSweeney Todd, Judge Turpin, Adolfo Pirelli, Mrs. Lovett, Tobias Ragg

    Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 1979 musical thriller with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. The musical is based on the 1973 play Sweeney Todd, the...  more
  • 3

    A Chorus Line

    Edward Kleban , Nicholas Dante
    315
    130

    CharactersZach, Sheila Bryant, Greg Gardner, Mike Costa, Don Kerr

    A Chorus Line is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante. Centred on seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on...  more
  • 4

    Evita

    Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice
    204
    87

    CharactersChe Guevara, Eva Perón, Juan Perón, Perón's Mistress, Agustín Magaldi

    Evita is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón....  more

    #10 of 29 The Very Best Sung-Through Musicals#2 of 17 The Best Musicals by Andrew Lloyd Webber

  • 5

    Grease

    Warren Casey , Jim Jacobs
    317
    163

    CharactersSandy Olsson, Betty Rizzo, Danny Zuko, Frenchy, Principal McGee

    Grease is a 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Named after the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as greasers, the musical is set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High...  more

    #2258 of 2,810 The Greatest Albums of All-Time#54 of 112 Albums You're Guaranteed To Find In Every Parent's CD Collection#6 of 43 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 90s

  • 6

    Jesus Christ Superstar

    Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice
    225
    113

    CharactersJesus, Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot, Apostle Peter, Mary Magdalene

    Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1970 rock opera or rock musical, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The musical started as a rock opera concept album before its first staging on...  more
  • 7

    Annie

    Martin Charnin , Thomas Meehan
    238
    131

    CharactersAnnie, Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, Miss Agatha Hannigan, Daniel Francis "Rooster" Hannigan, Lily St. Regis

    Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and the book by Thomas Meehan. The original...  more

    Every Song in Annie, Ranked by Singability#4 of 39 The Best Broadway Shows for Kids

  • 8

    Pippin

    Stephen Schwartz , Roger O. Hirson
    183
    90

    CharactersCatherine, Berthe, Pippin, Fastrada, Charles

    Pippin is a 1972 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. Bob Fosse, who directed the original Broadway production, also contributed to the libretto. The...  more
  • 9

    Company

    George Furth , Stephen Sondheim
    174
    85

    CharactersJenny, Marta, Harry, Larry, Susan

    Company is a 1970 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won...  more
  • 10
    2021asr2 added

    Hair

    Gerome Ragni , Galt MacDermot
    109
    49

    CharactersSheila Franklin, George Berger, Woof, Claude Hooper Bukowski, Jeannie Ryan

    Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counterculture and sexual...  more

    #26 of 45 The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway#18 of 28 The Best Jukebox Musical Plays, Ranked

  • 11

    The Wiz

    Charlie Smalls , William F. Brown
    127
    88

    CharactersWicked Witch of the West, Dorothy Gale, Scarecrow, The Wizard, Good Witch of the North

    The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is a musical with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls (and others) and book by William F. Brown. It is a retelling of L. Frank Baum's classic...  more
  • 12

    A Little Night Music

    Hugh Wheeler , Stephen Sondheim
    97
    61

    CharactersDesiree Armfeldt, Charlotte Malcolm, Henrik Egerman, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, Anne Egerman

    A Little Night Music is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. Inspired by the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, it involves the romantic lives of...  more
  • 13

    Godspell

    John-Michael Tebelak , Stephen Schwartz
    122
    87

    CharactersJesus, Judas Iscariot, Apostle Peter, John the Baptist

    Godspell is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and a book by John-Michael Tebelak. It opened off Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has played in various touring companies and revivals many times since,...  more
  • 14

    Follies

    James Goldman , Stephen Sondheim
    90
    75

    CharactersBenjamin, Phyllis Rogers Stone, Buddy, Sally Durant Plummer

    Follies is a book by James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim....  more

    #48 of 49 The Best Grammy-Nominated Musical Theater Albums of the 1980s#10 of 20 The Best Musicals by Stephen Sondheim

  • 15

    Applause

    Adolph Green , Betty Comden
    77
    64

    CharactersEve Harrington, Margo Channing, Howard Benedict, gypsy, Buzz Richards

    Applause is a musical with a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse. The musical is based on the 1950 film All About Eve and the short story on which...  more
  • 16

    Ain't Misbehavin'

    Richard Maltby, Jr.
    58
    62
    Ain't Misbehavin' is a musical revue with a book by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr., and music by various composers and lyricists as arranged and orchestrated by Luther Henderson. It is named...  more
  • 17

    Raisin

    Charlotte Zaltzberg , Robert Brittan
    45
    49
    Raisin is a musical theatre adaptation of the Lorraine Hansberry play A Raisin in the Sun, with songs by Judd Woldin and Robert Brittan, and a book by Robert Nemiroff (who was Hansberry's former...  more
  • 18
    Dan Thompson added

    Showboat

    2
    0
    Showboat is a 1999 theater production of the play by Oscar Hammerstein II....
  • 19

    Seesaw

    Michael Bennett , Dorothy Fields
    43
    51
    Seesaw is a 1973 American musical with a book by Michael Bennett, music by Cy Coleman, and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Based on the William Gibson play Two for the Seesaw, the plot focuses on a brief...  more
  • 20

    The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

    Carol Hall , Larry L. King
    52
    69

    CharactersMelvin, Sheriff, Deputy Fred, Miss Mona Stangley

    The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a musical with a book by Texas author Larry L. King and Peter Masterson and music and lyrics by Carol Hall. It is based on a story by King that was inspired by...  more
  • 21

    Eubie!

    Noble Sissle , Eubie Blake
    34
    45
    Eubie! is a revue featuring the music of Eubie Blake, with lyrics by Noble Sissle, Andy Razaf, Johnny Brandon, F. E. Miller, and Jim Europe....  more
  • 22

    I Love My Wife

    Cy Coleman , Michael Stewart
    35
    49

    CharactersAlvin, Wally, Cleo, Monica

    I Love My Wife is a musical with a book and lyrics by Michael Stewart and music by Cy Coleman, based on a play by Luis Rego. A satire of the sexual revolution of the 1970s, the musical takes place on...  more
  • 23

    Over Here!

    Richard M. Sherman , Robert B. Sherman
    33
    47
    Over Here! is a musical with a score by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman and book by Will Holt. The original Broadway production was directed by Tom Moore and choreographed by Patricia Birch,...  more
  • 24

    They're Playing Our Song

    Marvin Hamlisch , Neil Simon
    40
    57

    CharactersVernon Gersch, Sonia Walsk

    They're Playing Our Song is a musical with a book by Neil Simon, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, and music by Marvin Hamlisch. In a story based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Sager, a...  more
  • 25

    Side by Side by Sondheim

    Richard Rodgers , Mary Rodgers
    43
    68
    Side by Side by Sondheim is a musical revue featuring the songs of the Broadway and film composer Stephen Sondheim. Its title is derived from the song "Side by Side by Side" from Company....  more