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The Best Broadway Plays of the 70s

Updated July 30, 2021 1.2k votes 235 voters 19.5k views34 items

What are the best Broadway plays of the 1970s? This list has been ranked by theater lovers to determine the most greatest plays on Broadway in the 1970s, a decade of progressive change, rooted in politics and popular culture. The list below has all of the top Broadway plays, performed on Broadway during the 70s. 

Butterflies Are Free was one of the longest running shows of the 1970s with 1,128 total performances. Directed by Milton Katselas, the play opened at the Booth Theatre and told the story of a blind man whose controlling mother disapproves of his relationship with a free-spirited hippie. Set in New York City, the play became a hit and was nominated for two Tony Awards.

Another popular Broadway play of the 1970s, Deathtrap, ran for four years with almost 1,800 performances. Today, the play still currently holds the record for longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

Other long-running Broadway plays of the 70s include Gemini, Equus, Plaza Suite, and The Prisoner of Second Avenue, each with strong Broadway runs and critical reception. What were the best Broadway shows of the 1970s? Cast your votes below to rank the absolute best Broadway plays of the 70s.


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  • 1
    52
    22

    The Elephant Man

    Bernard Pomerance
  • 2
    38
    9

    The Ritz

    Terrence McNally
    The Ritz is a comedic farce by Terrence McNally. Rita Moreno won a Tony Award for her performance as Googie Gomez in the 1975 Broadway production, which she and many others of the original cast...  more
  • 3
    30
    5

    Chapter Two

    Neil Simon
    Chapter Two is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon. The play premiered on Broadway in 1977, where it ran for 857 performances....  more
  • 4
    32
    12

    Equus

    Peter Shaffer

    CharactersJill Mason, Martin Dysart, Nurse, Hesther Saloman, Dora Strang

    Equus is a play by Peter Shaffer written in 1973, telling the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious fascination with horses. Shaffer was inspired...  more
  • 5
    23
    8

    The Good Doctor

    Neil Simon, Peter Link

    CharactersGeneral's wife, Sexton, Julia, Madame Cherdiakov, Cherdiakov

    The Good Doctor is a comedy with music written by Neil Simon. It consists in a series of short plays, based on short stories and other works of Russian writer Anton Chekhov, framed by a writer making...  more
  • 6
    19
    4

    God's Favorite

    Neil Simon

    CharactersSidney Lipton, David, Joe Benjamin, Rose, Sarah

    God's Favorite is a play by Neil Simon, loosely based on the Biblical Book of Job. It was produced on Broadway in 1974....  more
  • 7
    36
    23

    Yentl

    Leah Napolin, Isaac Bashevis Singer

    CharactersYentl, Avigdor, Hadass

    Yentl is a play by Leah Napolin and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Based on Singer's short story "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," it centers on a young girl who defies tradition by discussing and debating Jewish law...  more
  • 8
    The Prisoner of Second Avenue is an American black comedy play by Neil Simon, later made into a film released in 1975....  more
  • 9
    24
    15

    Plaza Suite

    Neil Simon

    CharactersRoy Hubley, Muriel Tate, Sam Nash, Norma Hubley, Karen Nash

    Plaza Suite is a comedy play by Neil Simon....  more
  • 10
    13
    6

    Gemini

    Albert Innaurato
  • 11
    17
    12

    CharactersSydney Nichols, Diana Nichols, Marvin Michaels, Hannah Warren, Beth Hollender

    California Suite is a 1976 play by Neil Simon. Similar in structure to his earlier Plaza Suite, the comedy is composed of four playlets set in Suite 203-04, which consists of a living room and an...  more
  • 12
    26
    25

    Deathtrap

    Ira Levin

    CharactersHelga ten Dorp, Porter Milgrim, Clifford Anderson, Sidney Bruhl, Myra Bruhl

    Deathtrap is a play written by Ira Levin in 1978 with many plot twists and which references itself as a play within a play. It is in two acts with one set and five characters. It holds the record for...  more
  • 13
    15
    13

    The Gin Game

    Donald L. Coburn
  • 14
    22
    24

    Sleuth

    Anthony Shaffer
    Sleuth is a 1970 play written by Anthony Shaffer. The Broadway production received the Tony Award for Best Play, and Anthony Quayle and Keith Baxter received the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding...  more
  • 15
    10
    8

    Travesties

    Tom Stoppard

    CharactersVladimir Lenin, James Joyce, Tristan Tzara

    Travesties is a play by Tom Stoppard. The play centres on the figure of Henry Carr, an elderly man who reminisces about Zürich in 1917 during the First World War, and his interactions with James...  more
  • 16
    1
    0

    Don't Drink the Water

    Woody Allen

    CharactersMarion Hollander, Axel Magee, Susan Hollander, Kilroy, Walter Hollander

    Don't Drink the Water is a play written by Woody Allen that premiered on Broadway in 1966. The farce takes place inside an American Embassy behind the Iron Curtain. Although Allen contributed...  more
  • 17
    18
    20

    For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf

    Ntozake Shange
  • 18
    15
    15

    6 Rms Riv Vu

    Bob Randall
  • 19
    18
    22

    CharactersAl Lewis, Willy Clark

    The Sunshine Boys is a play by Neil Simon that was produced on Broadway in 1972 and later adapted for film and television....  more
  • 20
    14
    16

    The Shadow Box

    Michael Cristofer

    CharactersFelicity, Joe, Mark, Maggie, Brian

    The Shadow Box is a book by Michael Cristofer....  more
  • 21
    11
    13

    That Championship Season

    Jason Miller
  • 22
    10
    13

    Child's Play

    Robert Marasco
  • 23
    8
    10

    Sticks and Bones

    David Rabe
  • 24
    14
    23

    Mummenschanz

  • 25
    24
    39

    Butterflies Are Free

    Leonard Gershe
    Butterflies Are Free is a 1972 American comedy-drama film based on the play by Leonard Gershe. The 1972 film was produced by M.J. Frankovich, released by Columbia Pictures, directed by Milton...  more

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    #675 of 1,195 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#100 of 175 The Best Comedy Movies Of The 1970s

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