Broadway The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

Buster McDermott
Originally by
2.7k votes 327 voters 30.3k 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
106 45
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Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

2
74 23
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heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical

3
101 41
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Jonathan Larson

4
97 49
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Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

5
81 24
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Hamilton

6
82 34
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Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

7
36 5
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
KhushiRathi added Stephen Schwartz , Winnie Holzman

8
57 26
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added

9
72 42
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Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

10
64 38
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John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

11
62 31
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Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

12
44 12
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

13
33 5
Dear Evan Hansen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
JadenReyes added

14
60 37
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Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

15
53 29
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Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

16
62 31
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Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

17
49 33
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Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

18
38 35
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William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

19
39 32
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Chris D'Arienzo

20
33 33
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Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

21
21 20
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
29 31
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Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis

23
26 24
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Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

24
15 10
Natasha, Pierre, and the Great... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Garrett Canna added Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

25
17 19
Fun Home is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Lisa Kron , Jeanine Tesori

26
23 30
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James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

27
22 26
Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
James Lapine, William Finn

28
15 30
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Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Doug Wright

29
12 22
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
14 26
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 26
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Heidi Rodewald, Stew

32
8 23
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Romance/Romance Barry Michael Harman, Keith Harman

33
9 25
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The Me Nobody Knows Gary William Friedman, Will Holt

34
8 24
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Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner

35
6 21
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Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Melvin Van Peebles

36
9 26
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Willie Reale, Robert Reale

37
8 25
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Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, David Newman

38
7 24
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Elizabeth Swados

39
7 24
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A Class Act Edward Kleban

40
8 27
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James Joyce's the Dead Shaun Davey, Richard Nelson

41
6 21
Tintypes is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Tintypes Mel Marvin, Gary Pearle

42
7 23
Blues in the Night is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Blues in the Night Sheldon Epps

43
6 22
Contact is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Contact John Weidman

44
6 25
Starmites is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Barry Keating, Stuart Ross