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The Best Broadway Musicals of the 80s

Updated October 13, 2018 4.1k votes 932 voters 55.3k views33 items

There's nothing quite like a live Broadway musical. But what are the best Broadway musicals from the 80s? From Cats to the Phantom of the Opera, the 1980s produced some the most iconic Broadway musicals known today. This list has been ranked by theater fans to determine the best Broadway musicals from the 1980s. 

The 1980s was an exciting time for musical theater with seasoned composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim redefining Broadway history with hits such as Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods. The 80s was about innovation and spectacle, as seen in shows such as Barnum, a raucous, circus-themed show that delighted audiences with hits such as "The Colors of My Life."

Today, we still owe credit to the 1980s for introducing audiences the longest running Broadway show, Cats, a dazzling and revolutionary musical that brought memorable ballads such as "Memory" and a story that won't soon be forgotten.

Still, the 80s also saw its fair share of disasters, such as the musical flop of Carrie. However, the mega-success of shows like Les Miserables, Dreamgirls, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat would win audiences over for decades to come. Some have described the 1980s as the last great era of Broadway that brought some of the best musical theater talent to stardom.

Cast your votes below for the best 1980s Broadway musicals.
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  • 1
    364
    71

    Les Misérables

    Claude-Michel Schönberg , Jean-Marc Natel
    Les Misérables, colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz is a sung-through musical based on...  more
  • 2
    313
    98

    The Phantom of the Opera

    Charles Hart , Richard Stilgoe
    The Phantom of the Opera is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles...  more

    More The Phantom of the Opera 

    #4 of 66 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals#4 of 29 The Very Best Sung-Through Musicals

  • 3
    247
    76

    Into the Woods

    James Lapine , Stephen Sondheim
    Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James...  more

    More Into the Woods 

    #17 of 45 The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway#7 of 38 The Best Plays Based on Books

  • 4
    129
    67

    Dreamgirls

    Tom Eyen , Henry Krieger
    Dreamgirls is a Broadway musical, with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen....  more
  • 5
    138
    75

    Singin' in the Rain

    Betty Comden, Adolph Green
    Singin' in the Rain is a musical with a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, lyrics by...  more
  • 6
    194
    125

    Cats

    Richard Stilgoe , Andrew Lloyd Webber
    Cats is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical...  more

    More Cats 

    Every Song in Cats, Ranked by Singability#4 of 87 The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

  • 7
    132
    76

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice
    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a musical or operetta with lyrics by Tim Rice...  more

    More 

    #21 of 49 Stage Musicals That Would Make Great Movies#25 of 39 The Best Broadway Shows for Kids

  • 8
    102
    51

    Sunday in the Park with George

    James Lapine , Stephen Sondheim
    Sunday in the Park with George is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book...  more
  • 9
    90
    60

    42nd Street

    Mark Bramble , Al Dubin
    42nd Street is an American musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by...  more
  • 10
    55
    30

    Me and My Girl

    Noel Gay , Douglas Furber
    Me and My Girl is a musical with music by Noel Gay and its original book and lyrics by Douglas...  more
  • 11
    82
    62

    Chess

    Björn Ulvaeus , Benny Andersson
    Chess is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of the pop group ABBA,...  more
  • 12
    54
    33

    Song and Dance

    Richard Maltby, Jr.
    Song and Dance is a musical comprising two acts, one told entirely in "Song" and one entirely...  more
  • 13
    53
    34

    Torch Song Trilogy

    Harvey Fierstein
    Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts:...  more

    More Torch Song Trilogy 

    #2 of 31 The Best Broadway Plays of the 80s#41 of 87 The Best Cross-Dressing Movies

  • 14
    49
    30

    Baby

    Richard Maltby, Jr.
    Baby is a musical with a book by Sybille Pearson, based on a story developed with Susan...  more
  • 15
    65
    50

    La Cage aux Folles

    Jerry Herman , Harvey Fierstein
    La Cage aux Folles (French pronunciation: ​[la kaʒ o fɔl]) is a musical with a book by Harvey...  more
  • 16
    Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon, the first chapter in...  more
  • 17
    40
    30

    Woman of the Year

    Fred Ebb , John Kander
    Woman of the Year is a musical with a book by Peter Stone and score by John Kander and Fred...  more
  • 18
    42
    44

    Amadeus

    Peter Shaffer
    Amadeus is a play by Peter Shaffer, which gives a highly fictionalized account of the lives of...  more
  • 19
    22
    20

    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

    Burt Shevelove , Larry Gelbart
    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen...  more

    More A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum 

    #584 of 922 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films#2 of 15 The Best Musicals by George Abbott

  • 20
    53
    62

    Starlight Express

    Don Black , Richard Stilgoe
    Starlight Express is a rock musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Richard Stilgoe and Arlene...  more
  • 21
    47
    57

    Carrie

    Dean Pitchford , Lawrence D. Cohen
    Carrie: The Musical is a musical with a book by Lawrence D. Cohen, lyrics by Dean Pitchford,...  more
  • 22
    28
    32

    City of Angels

    David Zippel , Larry Gelbart
    City of Angels is a musical comedy with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book...  more
  • 23
    32
    39

    Grand Hotel

    George Forrest , Maury Yeston
    Grand Hotel is a musical with a book by Luther Davis and music and lyrics by Robert Wright and...  more
  • 24
    26
    34

    Rags

    Stephen Schwartz , Joseph Stein
    Rags is a musical with a book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and music by...  more
  • 25
    32
    42

    Nine

    Maury Yeston , Arthur Kopit
    Nine is a musical, initially created and written by Maury Yeston as a class-project in Lehman...  more