Broadway The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

Buster McDermott
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2.2k votes 279 voters 29.9k 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.

1
90 38
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Little Shop of Horrors Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

2
55 14
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heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical

3
86 43
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Grease Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

4
85 37
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Rent Jonathan Larson

5
75 30
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A Chorus Line Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

6
61 16
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Hamilton

7
48 19
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added The Rocky Horror Picture Show

8
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Hair Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

9
54 32
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Godspell John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

10
56 26
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Avenue Q Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

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52 32
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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

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51 29
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Spring Awakening Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

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40 26
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In the Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

14
23 6
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked

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20 3
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
KhushiRathi added Wicked Stephen Schwartz , Winnie Holzman

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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

17
40 29
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Next to Normal Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

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14 3
Dear Evan Hansen is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
JadenReyes added Dear Evan Hansen

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Rock of Ages Chris D'Arienzo

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Once Upon a Mattress Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

21
17 16
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
18markj added Hedwig and the Angry Inch Stephen Trask , John Cameron Mitchell

The Top 15 Shades of Grey

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Urinetown Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis

23
11 7
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Garrett Canna added Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

24
13 16
Fun Home is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Fun Home Lisa Kron , Jeanine Tesori

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Sunday in the Park with George James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

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Once on This Island Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

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17 25
Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Falsettos James Lapine, William Finn

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Grey Gardens Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Doug Wright

The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever

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12 24
Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in '... is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk Reg E. Gaines, Zane Mark, George C. Wolfe

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Passing Strange Heidi Rodewald, Stew

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6 21
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Romance/Romance Barry Michael Harman, Keith Harman

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The Me Nobody Knows Gary William Friedman, Will Holt

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9 21
Leader of the Pack is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Leader of the Pack Jeff Barry, Jeff Kent, Ellen Foley

34
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A Year with Frog and Toad Willie Reale, Robert Reale

35
6 22
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Caroline, or Change Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner

The Worst Fashion Trends in History

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The Life Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, David Newman

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4 19
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Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Melvin Van Peebles

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5 22
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Runaways Elizabeth Swados

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5 22
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A Class Act Edward Kleban

40
6 25
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James Joyce's the Dead Shaun Davey, Richard Nelson

41
5 21
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
4 19
Tintypes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Tintypes Mel Marvin, Gary Pearle

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4 20
Contact is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Contact John Weidman

44
4 23
Starmites is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Starmites Barry Keating, Stuart Ross