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The Best Broadway Musicals of the 90s

Updated January 8, 2021 10.8k votes 1.8k voters 58.8k views43 items

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!
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  • Rent1
    636

    Rent

    Jonathan Larson

    CharactersMimi 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...  more

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    #3 of 29 The Very Best Sung-Through Musicals#4 of 45 The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

  • Chicago2
    450

    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,...  more

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    #2 of 34 The Best Broadway Musicals of the '70s#8 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies

  • The Lion King3
    475

    The Lion King

    Mark Mancina , Elton John

    CharactersScar, Simba, Mufasa, Pumbaa, Nala

    The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Walt Disney Animation Studios' animated feature...  more

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    #3 of 87 The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time#9 of 191 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked

  • Beauty and the Beast4
    354

    Beauty and the Beast

    Alan Menken , Linda Woolverton

    CharactersBelle, Gaston, Beast, Babette, Wardrobe

    Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim...  more

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    #4 of 9 All The Broadway Musicals Based On Disney Movies, Ranked#4 of 39 The Best Broadway Shows for Kids

  • Miss Saigon5
    310

    Miss Saigon

    Richard Maltby, Jr.

    CharactersChristopher Scott, Kim, John Thomas, Tam, Gigi Van Tranh

    Miss Saigon is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil...  more
  • Ragtime6
    206

    Ragtime

    Terrence McNally , Stephen Flaherty

    CharactersMother, Coalhouse Walker, Jr., Younger Brother, Evelyn Nesbit

    Ragtime is a musical with a book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and music by...  more
  • Falsettos7
    128

    Falsettos

    James Lapine , William Finn

    CharactersMarvin, Trina, Whizzer Brown, Mendel, Jason

    Falsettos is a musical with a book by James Lapine and William Finn and music and lyrics by...  more
  • Grease8
    234

    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...  more

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    #2713 of 3,110 The Greatest Albums of All-Time#58 of 112 Albums You're Guaranteed To Find In Every Parent's CD Collection

  • Victor/Victoria9
    192

    Victor/Victoria

    Blake Edwards , Frank Wildhorn

    CharactersSquash (Mr. Bernstein), Victor, Norma Cassidy, André Cassell, Richard Di Nardo

    Victor/Victoria is a musical with a book by Blake Edwards, music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by...  more
  • The Secret Garden10
    152

    The Secret Garden

    Marsha Norman , Lucy Simon

    CharactersMary Lennox, Colin Craven, Martha Sowerby, Dickon Sowerby, Ben Weatherstaff

    The Secret Garden is a musical based on the 1911 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson...  more
  • Sunset Boulevard11
    153

    Sunset Boulevard

    Christopher Hampton , Don Black

    CharactersNorma Desmond, Joe Gillis, Betty Schaefer, Artie Green, Max Von Mayerling

    Sunset Boulevard is a musical with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, and...  more
  • Footloose12
    163

    Footloose

    Eric Carmen , Sammy Hagar

    CharactersRusty Rodriguez, Ariel Moore, Ren McCormack, Chuck Cranston, Vi Moore

    Footloose is a 1998 musical based on the 1984 film of the same name. In 2011 there was a...  more
  • Jekyll & Hyde13
    184

    Jekyll & Hyde

    Frank Wildhorn , Leslie Bricusse

    CharactersDr. Henry Jekyll, Mr. Edward Hyde, Lucy Harris, Emma Carew

    Jekyll & Hyde is a musical thriller based on the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr...  more
  • Once On This Island14
    130

    Once On This Island

    Stephen Flaherty , Lynn Ahrens

    CharactersErzulie, Armand, Azaka Medeh, Asaka, Tonton Julian

    Once on This Island is a one-act musical with a book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by...  more
  • Parade15
    104

    Parade

    Jason Robert Brown , Alfred Uhry

    CharactersNewt Lee, Tom Watson, Detective JN Starnes, Leo Frank, Luther Z. Rosser

    Parade is a musical with a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The...  more
  • Titanic16
    101

    Titanic

    Maury Yeston and Peter Stone

    Characters2nd Officer Charles Lightoller, 1st Officer William Murdoch, 4th Officer Joseph Boxhall, Captain E. J. Smith, Robert Hichens

    Maury Yeston and Peter Stone
    Titanic is a musical with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Peter Stone that...  more
  • Fosse17
    103

    Fosse

    Bob Fosse , Fred Ebb
    Fosse is a three-act musical revue showcasing the choreography of Bob Fosse. The musical was...  more
  • Crazy for You18
    95

    Crazy for You

    George Gershwin , Ira Gershwin

    CharactersPatricia Fodor, Irene Roth, Everett Baker, Eugene Fodor, Bobby Child

    Crazy for You is a romantic love musical with a book by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin,...  more
  • City of Angels19
    88

    City of Angels

    David Zippel , Larry Gelbart

    CharactersAlaura Kingsley, Mallory Kingsley, Stone, Avril, Bobbi

    City of Angels is a musical comedy with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book...  more
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch20
    2

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch

    Stephen Trask , John Cameron Mitchell

    CharactersHedwig, Tommy Gnosis, Yitzhak, Sgt. Luther Robinson, Schlatko

    Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by a...  more
  • The Who's Tommy21
    98

    The Who's Tommy

    Des McAnuff , Pete Townshend

    CharactersUncle Ernie, Tommy, The Lover, The Hawker, Sally Simpson

    The Who's Tommy is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Pete Townshend and book by...  more
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel22
    89

    The Scarlet Pimpernel

    Nan Knighton , Frank Wildhorn

    CharactersCitizen Chauvelin, Marguerite St. Just, Lord Anthony Dewhurst, Sir Percy Blakeney, Armand St.Just

    The Scarlet Pimpernel is a musical with music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics and book by Nan...  more
  • Saturday Night Fever23
    92

    CharactersTony Manero, Double J., Doreen, Connie, Frank Jr.

    Saturday Night Fever is a musical with a book by Nan Knighton (in collaboration with Arlene...  more
  • Blood Brothers24
    82

    Blood Brothers

    Willy Russell

    CharactersSammy, Mr Lyons, Mrs Lyons, Mrs Johnston, Mickey

    Blood Brothers is a musical with book, lyrics and music by Willy Russell. The story is a...  more
  • Passion25
    64

    Passion

    James Lapine , Stephen Sondheim
    Passion is a one-act musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James...  more