The Best Broadway Musicals of the 90s

From Chicago to The Lion King, the '90s saw a number of hit musicals that were popular with theater audiences. While going to the theater has always been (and still is) considered to be pretty high-brow, many 1990s musicals introduced fun, accessible elements like rock music and youthful themes that appealed to a younger generation. Think back– which '90s musicals do you think take the cake for being the best of the decade? This list has been ranked by hundreds of theater fans like you, so don't let them down! Vote for your choices of the best 1990s Broadway musicals. 

By the '90s, musical theater began fading away into obscurity. Though Broadway had once reigned supreme, it was now struggling to remain relevant amidst rapidly changing times, combined with rising ticket costs and low attendance. Still, the 1990s saw its fair share of Broadway hits that stuck out among the loyal theater fans. The shows were modernized and often tackled weighty topics such as in the successful show, Rent, a rock musical about a group of young artists in New York dealing with the realities of HIV/AIDS. Though the show started off-Broadway, it eventually found its place and gained critical acclaim, winning a Tony Award for Best Musical. Rent would continue on Broadway for 12 years, until 2008, after more than 5,000 performances.  

The '90s was also a time of the "corporate musical," elaborate stage efforts produced with a massive amount of money from corporate sponsorship in order to win over the box office. Such shows included Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Though the shows were much loved by audiences, the real magic of musical theater through experimentation, emotion, and true talent was lost to impressive, yet sterile, shows.

What are the top Broadway musicals from the 1990s? But what were the most popular Broadway musicals of the '90s? Cast your votes below and see how your fellow theater fans voted!
Ranked by
  • Rent
    Jonathan Larson
    • Characters: Mimi Marquez, Angel Dumott Schunard, Joanne Jefferson, Maureen Johnson, Tom Collins
    Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive ...more
  • The Lion King
    Mark Mancina , Elton John, Jay Rifkin
    • Characters: Scar, Simba, Mufasa, Pumbaa, Nala
    The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Walt Disney Animation Studios' animated feature film of the same name with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Roger Allers and Irene ...more
  • Chicago
    Bob Fosse , Fred Ebb, John Kander
    • Characters: Velma 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
  • Beauty and the Beast
    Alan Menken , Linda Woolverton, Howard Ashman
    • Characters: Belle, Gaston, Beast, Babette, Wardrobe
    Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton. Adapted from Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning 1991 animated ...more
  • Miss Saigon
    Richard Maltby, Jr., Claude-Michel Schönberg
    • Characters: Christopher Scott, Kim, John Thomas, Tam, Gigi Van Tranh
    Miss Saigon is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr. It is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, and similarly tells the ...more
  • Grease
    Warren Casey , Jim Jacobs
    • Characters: Sandy 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