Culture The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

Buster McDermott
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3.1k votes 359 voters 30.8k views 46 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
111 55
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Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

2
86 32
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heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical

3
100 30
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Hamilton

4
112 48
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Jonathan Larson

5
90 37
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Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

6
50 7
Dear Evan Hansen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
JadenReyes added

7
104 56
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Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

8
58 15
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

9
68 35
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Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

10
65 33
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added

11
69 43
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John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

12
75 47
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Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

13
46 12
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
KhushiRathi added Stephen Schwartz , Winnie Holzman

14
60 32
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Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

15
64 44
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Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

16
65 36
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Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

17
54 36
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Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

18
42 38
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William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

19
39 39
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Chris D'Arienzo

20
25 23
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
18markj added Stephen Trask , John Cameron Mitchell

21
32 27
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Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

22
34 40
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Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

23
21 22
Fun Home is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Lisa Kron , Jeanine Tesori

24
26 33
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James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

25
18 13
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