The Best Broadway Plays of the 80s

What are the best Broadway plays from the 1980s? This list has been ranked by theater lovers to determine the best plays performed on Broadway in the '80s, a decade of industrialization, war and the birth of Millenials. These themes and other current events would find themselves on Broadway in the 80s, in plays such in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, and many more. What are the top 80s Broadway plays?

Though the 1980s is often known for significant fashion trends such as ripped jeans and teased hair that often found their way to the stage, the Broadway play Amadeus was based on the lives of composers Salieri and Mozart and had nothing to do with popular 1980s imagery but was instead a period piece dating back to the 18th century. The show later won the1981  Tony Award for Best Play.

Still, other plays such as Children of a Lesser God focused on stories that resonated deeply with 80s audiences. Written by Mark Medoff, the 1980 play revolved around a relationship between a deaf student and her teacher and won the Tony Award for Best Play that year, running for 887 performances.

What are the best non-musical Broadway shows that opened in the 80s? Cast your votes below on this is a list of the top Broadway plays from the 1980s.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
Ranked by
  • Amadeus
    Peter Shaffer
    52 votes
    • Characters: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Antonio Salieri, Count Orsini-Rosenberg, Katerina Cavalieri, Constanze Mozart
    Amadeus is a play by Peter Shaffer, which gives a highly fictionalized account of the lives of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. First performed in 1979, Amadeus was inspired ...more
  • Brighton Beach Memoirs
    34 votes
    • Characters: Eugene Morris Jerome, Blanche Morton, Nora Morton, Jack Jerome, Stanley Jerome
    Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon, the first chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy. It precedes Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound.
  • Children of a Lesser God

    Children of a Lesser God

    Mark Medoff
    34 votes
  • Glengarry Glen Ross

    Glengarry Glen Ross

    David Mamet
    29 votes
    • Characters: Ricky Roma, Dave Moss, James Lingk, John Williamson, George Aaronow
    Glengarry Glen Ross is a play by David Mamet that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. The play shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage ...more
  • The Elephant Man
    Bernard Pomerance
    17 votes
    • Characters: John Merrick, Mrs. Kendal, Frederick Treves, Carr Gomm

    David Bowie famously played John Merrick in 1980 during part of its original Broadway run.

    The Elephant Man is a play by Bernard Pomerance. It premiered at the Hampstead Theatre in London on 7 November 1977. It later played in repertory at the National Theatre in London. It ran ...more
  • Fences


    August Wilson, Branford Marsalis
    40 votes
    • Characters: Cory, Troy, Rose, Mr. Rand, Lyons
    Fences is a 1983 play by American playwright August Wilson. Set in the 1950s, it is the sixth in Wilson's ten-part "Pittsburgh Cycle". Like all of the "Pittsburgh" plays, Fences explores the evolving ...more