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The Best Broadway Musicals of the '70s

Updated April 14, 2021 6.1k votes 1.4k voters 98.6k 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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    Chicago

    Bob Fosse , Fred Ebb

    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

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    #2 of 87 The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time#8 of 185 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked

  • 2
    313
    129

    A Chorus Line

    Edward Kleban , Nicholas Dante

    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
  • 3
    297
    121

    Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

    Hugh Wheeler , Stephen Sondheim

    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
  • 4
    318
    155

    Grease

    Warren Casey , Jim Jacobs

    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

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  • 5
    200
    82

    Evita

    Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice

    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

    More 

    #10 of 29 The Very Best Sung-Through Musicals#3 of 17 The Best Musicals by Andrew Lloyd Webber

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    223
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    Jesus Christ Superstar

    Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice

    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
    170
    81

    Company

    George Furth , Stephen Sondheim

    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
  • 8
    178
    89

    Pippin

    Stephen Schwartz , Roger O. Hirson

    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
    233
    131

    Annie

    Martin Charnin , Thomas Meehan

    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

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  • 10
    107
    46

    Hair

    Gerome Ragni , Galt MacDermot

    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

    More 

    #7 of 28 The Best Jukebox Musical Plays, Ranked#17 of 45 The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

  • 11
    130
    86

    The Wiz

    Charlie Smalls , William F. Brown

    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
    97
    60

    A Little Night Music

    Hugh Wheeler , Stephen Sondheim

    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
    97
    62

    On the Twentieth Century

    Cy Coleman , Adolph Green
    On the Twentieth Century is a musical with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Cy Coleman. Part operetta, part farce, part screwball comedy, the story involves the...  more
  • 14
    120
    86

    Godspell

    John-Michael Tebelak , Stephen Schwartz

    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
  • 15
    90
    70

    Follies

    James Goldman , Stephen Sondheim

    CharactersBenjamin, Phyllis Rogers Stone, Buddy, Sally Durant Plummer

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

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  • 16
    77
    58

    Applause

    Adolph Green , Betty Comden

    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
  • 17
    55
    61

    Ain't Misbehavin'

    Richard Maltby, Jr.
    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
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    2
    0

    Showboat

    Showboat is a 1999 theater production of the play by Oscar Hammerstein II....
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    44
    48

    Raisin

    Charlotte Zaltzberg , Robert Brittan
    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
  • 20
    54
    65

    The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

    Carol Hall , Larry L. King

    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
    42
    51

    The Magic Show

    Bob Randall , Stephen Schwartz
    The Magic Show is a one-act musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Bob Randall. It starred magician Doug Henning. Produced by Edgar Lansbury, it opened in May 1974 at the...  more
  • 22
    41
    51

    Seesaw

    Michael Bennett , Dorothy Fields
    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
  • 23
    40
    55

    They're Playing Our Song

    Marvin Hamlisch , Neil Simon

    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
  • 24
    34
    47

    I Love My Wife

    Cy Coleman , Michael Stewart

    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
  • 25
    32
    46

    Over Here!

    Richard M. Sherman , Robert B. Sherman
    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