Broadway The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

Buster McDermott
Originally by
2.6k votes 314 voters 30.2k 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
101 43
Ranker Video
Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

2
69 20
Ranker Video
heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical

3
97 39
Ranker Video
Jonathan Larson

4
78 19
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Hamilton

5
94 48
Ranker Video
Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

6
80 33
Ranker Video
Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

7
42 9
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

8
62 37
Ranker Video
John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

9
53 24
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added

10
69 41
Ranker Video
Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

11
60 31
Ranker Video
Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

12
30 4
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
KhushiRathi added Stephen Schwartz , Winnie Holzman

13
58 37
Ranker Video
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

14
61 31
Ranker Video
Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

15
50 29
Ranker Video
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

16
27 5
Dear Evan Hansen is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
JadenReyes added

17
47 33
Ranker Video
Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

18
37 34
Ranker Video
William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

19
36 32
Ranker Video
Chris D'Arienzo

20
33 32
Ranker Video
Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

21
21 18
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 29
Ranker Video
Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis

23
15 9
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
16 18
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
22 30
Ranker Video
James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

26
24 24
Ranker Video
Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

27
20 26
Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
James Lapine, William Finn

28
15 29
Ranker Video
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
Ranker Video
Heidi Rodewald, Stew

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

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

34
8 24
Ranker Video
Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner

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

36
9 26
Ranker Video
Willie Reale, Robert Reale

37
8 25
Ranker Video
Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, David Newman

38
7 24
Ranker Video
Elizabeth Swados

39
7 24
Ranker Video
A Class Act Edward Kleban

40
8 27
Ranker Video
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