broadway The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

Buster McDermott
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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
78 20
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Little Shop of Horrors Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

The Best Broadway Musicals The Best Movies About Art & Artists

2
66 13
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A Chorus Line Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

3
74 24
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Grease Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

4
65 18
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Rent Jonathan Larson

5
57 20
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Hair Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

6
39 9
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added The Rocky Horror Picture Show

7
47 18
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Godspell John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

8
33 7
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Hamilton

9
46 19
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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

10
43 17
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Avenue Q Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

11
26 6
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heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical

12
40 18
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Spring Awakening Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

13
28 18
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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

14
32 19
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Next to Normal Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

15
29 19
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Rock of Ages Chris D'Arienzo

The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever The Best Musicals Based on Movies

16
26 18
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In the Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

17
25 21
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Once Upon a Mattress Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

18
11 6
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
18markj added Hedwig and the Angry Inch Stephen Trask , John Cameron Mitchell

19
9 6
Fun Home is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Fun Home Lisa Kron ^! Jeanine Tesori

20
17 19
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Urinetown Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis

21
15 21
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Sunday in the Park with George James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

22
12 19
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Grey Gardens Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Doug Wright

23
11 17
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Once On This Island Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

24
11 19
Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Falsettos James Lapine, William Finn

25
6 15
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The Life Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, David Newman

26
9 17
Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in '... is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
7 17
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A Year with Frog and Toad Willie Reale, Robert Reale

28
7 15
Leader of the Pack is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Leader of the Pack Jeff Barry, Jeff Kent, Ellen Foley

29
6 16
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The Me Nobody Knows Gary William Friedman, Will Holt

The Best Broadway Stars of the 21st Century The Best Things About Fall

30
6 16
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Caroline, or Change Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner

31
5 15
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A Class Act Edward Kleban

32
6 17
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James Joyce's the Dead Shaun Davey, Richard Nelson

33
5 16
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Runaways Elizabeth Swados

34
4 15
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Romance/Romance Barry Michael Harman, Keith Harman

35
6 18
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Passing Strange Heidi Rodewald, Stew

36
4 14
Contact is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Contact John Weidman

37
4 14
Tintypes is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Tintypes Mel Marvin, Gary Pearle

38
4 14
Blues in the Night is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Blues in the Night Sheldon Epps

39
3 14
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Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Melvin Van Peebles

40
3 18
Starmites is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Starmites Barry Keating, Stuart Ross