Culture

The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway 

Buster McDermott
Originally by
Updated February 12, 2019 4.2k votes 483 voters 32.6k views 45 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.

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1
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Alan Menken, Howard Ashman
2
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Jonathan Larson
3
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Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs
4
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heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical
5
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Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch
6
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Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes
7
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John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz
8
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Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik
9
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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice
10
Dear Evan Hansen is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
JadenReyes added
11
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Hair Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado
12
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
13
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
KhushiRathi added Stephen Schwartz , Winnie Holzman
14
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William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin
15
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Avenue Q Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez
16
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Chris D'Arienzo
17
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James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim
18
The Rocky Horror Picture... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added
19
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Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey
20
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Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller
21
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Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens
22
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Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis
23
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Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Doug Wright
24
Into the Woods is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Tom Islava added James Lapine , Stephen Sondheim
25
Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
James Lapine, William Finn