Broadway The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

Buster McDermott
Originally by
2.8k votes 340 voters 30.5k views 44 items

List Rules Vote up the best musicals that first debuted off-Broadway.

Although many people might not be aware - it’s true. Some of the greatest, most beloved Broadway musicals started out as off-Broadway productions. This includes fan favorites such as Rent, Godspell, and Hair, which have all seen multiple production runs and revivals. This list contains the greatest shows to make the jump from off-Broadway to Broadway.

What is the difference between Broadway and off-Broadway? At the most basic level, Broadway shows are staged in theaters with 500 or more seats, while off-Broadway shows are staged in theaters with between 100 and 499 seats. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but essentially, off-Broadway productions are smaller. It doesn’t mean, however, that off-Broadway productions aren’t as good, and as this list proves, many off-Broadway productions do make it to Broadway, due to their great success.

A fantastic example of a great musical that started off-Broadway is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. A favorite show among musical theater fans, the show first ran off-Broadway in 1981, then moved to Broadway the next year. It also received multiple Tony Award nominations, giving it a place on this list of the most celebrated musicals that got their beginnings off-Broadway.

This list comprises those musicals for which off-Broadway jut wasn't enough. From hugely successful shows such as A Chorus Line to lesser-known but still deserving productions such as Starmites, they’re all here. Cast your votes below to rank this list of the greatest musicals that started off-Broadway.

list ordered by

1
107 51
Ranker Video
Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

2
107 43
Ranker Video
Jonathan Larson

3
78 28
Ranker Video
heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical

4
87 26
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Hamilton

5
85 35
Ranker Video
Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

6
100 53
Ranker Video
Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

7
39 6
Dear Evan Hansen is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
JadenReyes added

8
49 13
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

9
60 29
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added

10
64 33
Ranker Video
Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

11
73 44
Ranker Video
Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

12
65 40
Ranker Video
John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

13
38 9
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
KhushiRathi added Stephen Schwartz , Winnie Holzman

14
55 31
Ranker Video
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

15
64 33
Ranker Video
Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

16
61 40
Ranker Video
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

17
52 34
Ranker Video
Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

18
40 36
Ranker Video
William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

19
39 35
Ranker Video
Chris D'Arienzo

20
34 36
Ranker Video
Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

21
23 21
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
18markj added Stephen Trask , John Cameron Mitchell

22
28 25
Ranker Video
Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

23
30 34
Ranker Video
Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis

24
19 20
Fun Home is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Lisa Kron , Jeanine Tesori

25
16 11
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Garrett Canna added Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

26
24 31
Ranker Video
James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

27
25 26
Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
James Lapine, William Finn

28
15 32
Ranker Video
Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Doug Wright

29
13 24
Leader of the Pack is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Jeff Barry, Jeff Kent, Ellen Foley

30
15 27
Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in '... is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Reg E. Gaines, Zane Mark, George C. Wolfe

31
10 27
Ranker Video
Heidi Rodewald, Stew

32
8 24
Ranker Video
Romance/Romance Barry Michael Harman, Keith Harman

33
9 26
Ranker Video
The Me Nobody Knows Gary William Friedman, Will Holt

34
8 25
Ranker Video
Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner

35
9 27
Ranker Video
Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, David Newman

36
9 28
Ranker Video
Willie Reale, Robert Reale

37
6 22
Ranker Video
Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Melvin Van Peebles

38
7 25
Ranker Video
Elizabeth Swados

39
7 25
Ranker Video
A Class Act Edward Kleban

40
8 28
Ranker Video
James Joyce's the Dead Shaun Davey, Richard Nelson

41
7 24
Blues in the Night is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Blues in the Night Sheldon Epps

42
6 22
Tintypes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Tintypes Mel Marvin, Gary Pearle

43
6 23
Contact is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Contact John Weidman

44
6 26
Starmites is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Barry Keating, Stuart Ross