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The Best Broadway Plays of the 70s

Updated June 14, 2019 1.2k votes 230 voters 18.8k views33 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
    37
    8

    The Ritz

    Terrence McNally
    The Ritz is a comedic farce by Terrence McNally. Rita Moreno won a Tony Award for her...  more
  • 2
    52
    24

    The Elephant Man

    Bernard Pomerance
  • 3
    30
    7

    Gemini

    Albert Innaurato
  • 4
    31
    13

    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...  more
  • 5
    28
    11

    Chapter Two

    Neil Simon
    Chapter Two is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon. The play premiered on Broadway in...  more
  • 6
    25
    10

    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...  more
  • 7
    30
    17

    The Shadow Box

    Michael Cristofer

    CharactersFelicity, Joe, Mark, Maggie, Brian

    The Shadow Box is a book by Michael Cristofer....  more
  • 8
    34
    22

    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...  more
  • 9
    33
    22

    Mummenschanz

  • 10
    20
    7

    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...  more
  • 11
    The Prisoner of Second Avenue is an American black comedy play by Neil Simon, later made into...  more
  • 12
    19
    9

    Sticks and Bones

    David Rabe
  • 13
    20
    11

    Sleuth

    Anthony Shaffer
    Sleuth is a 1970 play written by Anthony Shaffer. The Broadway production received the Tony...  more
  • 14
    24
    15

    Butterflies Are Free

    Leonard Gershe
    Butterflies Are Free is a 1972 American comedy-drama film based on the play by Leonard Gershe....  more

    More Butterflies Are Free 

    #674 of 1,184 Every Oscar Winning Film Ever#99 of 175 The Best Comedy Movies Of The 1970s

  • 15
    17
    7

    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...  more
  • 16
    22
    14

    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...  more
  • 17
    22
    14

    Plaza Suite

    Neil Simon

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

    Plaza Suite is a comedy play by Neil Simon....  more
  • 18
    20
    14

    CharactersDoris, George Peters

  • 19
    15
    10

    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...  more
  • 20
    11
    5

    That Championship Season

    Jason Miller
  • 21
    19
    19

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

    Ntozake Shange
  • 22
    14
    12

    The Gin Game

    Donald L. Coburn
  • 23
    17
    18

    The Runner Stumbles

    Milan Stitt
  • 24
    18
    21

    CharactersAl Lewis, Willy Clark

    The Sunshine Boys is a play by Neil Simon that was produced on Broadway in 1972 and later...  more
  • 25
    14
    15

    6 Rms Riv Vu

    Bob Randall