The Best Broadway Musicals of the 80s

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.
Ranked by
  • Les Misérables
    Claude-Michel Schönberg , Jean-Marc Natel, Herbert Kretzmer
    • Characters: Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Éponine, Monsieur Thénardier
  • The Phantom of the Opera
    Charles Hart , Richard Stilgoe, Andrew Lloyd Webber
    • Characters: Erik, Christine Daaé, Carlotta, Viscount Raoul de Chagny, Madame Giry
  • Into the Woods
    James Lapine , Stephen Sondheim
    • Characters: Rapunzel, Snow White, Princess Aurora, Cinderella, Big Bad Wolf
  • Dreamgirls
    Tom Eyen , Henry Krieger
    • Characters: Effie White, Deena Jones, C. C. White, James Early, Curtis Taylor
  • Singin' in the Rain
    Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Arthur Freed
    • Sunday in the Park with George
      James Lapine , Stephen Sondheim
      • Characters: Billy Webster, Yvonne, Nurse, Bob Greenberg, Charles Redmond
    • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
      Andrew Lloyd Webber , Tim Rice
      • Characters: Potiphar, Potiphar's Wife, Joseph, Pharaoh, Reuben
    • Cats
      Richard Stilgoe , Andrew Lloyd Webber, Trevor Nunn
      • Characters: Rum Tum Tugger, Jellylorum, Bombalurina, Old Deuteronomy, Bustopher Jones
    • 42nd Street
      Mark Bramble , Al Dubin, Harry Warren
      • Characters: Pat Denning, Billy Lawlor, Julian Marsh, Abner Dillon, Mac
    • Chess
      Björn Ulvaeus , Benny Andersson, Richard Nelson
      • Characters: Florence, Molokov, The American, Svetlana, The Russian
    • La Cage aux Folles
      Jerry Herman , Harvey Fierstein
      • Characters: Madame Renaud, Albin, Jean-Michel, Jacob, Francis
    • City of Angels
      David Zippel , Larry Gelbart, Cy Coleman
      • Characters: Alaura Kingsley, Mallory Kingsley, Stone, Avril, Bobbi
    • Carrie
      Dean Pitchford , Lawrence D. Cohen
      • Characters: Carrie White, Margaret White, Chris Hargensen, Sue Snell, Tommy Ross
    • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
      Burt Shevelove , Larry Gelbart, Stephen Sondheim
      • Characters: Miles Gloriosus, Senex, Hero, Marcus Lycus, Philia
    • Nine
      Maury Yeston , Arthur Kopit
      • Characters: Guido Contini, Carla, Claudia Jenssen, Saraghina, Luisa Contini
    • Me and My Girl
      Noel Gay , Douglas Furber, L. Arthur Rose
      • Characters: Sir John Tremayne, Sally Smith, Herbert Parchester, Lady Jacqueline Carstone, Lord Jasper Tring
    • Grand Hotel
      George Forrest , Maury Yeston, Robert Wright
      • Characters: Elizaveta Grushinskaya, Baron Felix Von Gaigern, Flaemmchen, Erik, Hermann Preysing
    • Barnum
      Mark Bramble , Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart
      • Characters: General Tom Thumb, James Anthony Bailey, Phineas Taylor Barnum, Jenny Lind, Charity
    • Starlight Express
      Don Black , Richard Stilgoe, Andrew Lloyd Webber
      • Characters: Pearl the Observation Car, Ashley the Smoking Car, Flat-Top the Brick Truck, Dustin the Big Hopper, Buffy the Buffet Car
    • Song and Dance
      Richard Maltby, Jr., Don Black
      • Rags
        Stephen Schwartz , Joseph Stein, Charles Strouse
        • Characters: Saul, Bella Cohen, Nathan Hershkowitz, Ben, David
      • Amadeus
        Peter Shaffer
        • Characters: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Salieri, Count Orsini-Rosenberg, Katerina Cavalieri, Constanze Mozart
      • The Rink
        Terrence McNally , Fred Ebb, John Kander
        • Woman of the Year
          Fred Ebb , John Kander, Peter Stone
          • Characters: Tess Harding, Sam Craig, Chip Salisbury, Abbott Canfield, Larry Donovan
        • Baby
          Richard Maltby, Jr., Sybille Pearson