Broadway The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway  

Buster McDermott
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2.4k votes 293 voters 30k 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.

1
93 41
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Little Shop of Horrors Alan Menken, Howard Ashman

2
61 16
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heathertheatre added Heathers the Musical

3
89 38
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Rent Jonathan Larson

4
89 46
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Grease Warren Casey, Jim Jacobs

5
77 32
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A Chorus Line Edward Kleban, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch

6
67 18
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Hamilton

7
67 37
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Hair Gerome Ragni, Galt MacDermot, James Rado

8
51 21
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
FranaBlaylock added The Rocky Horror Picture Show

9
59 33
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Godspell John-Michael Tebelak, Stephen Schwartz

10
57 30
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Spring Awakening Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik

11
59 28
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Avenue Q Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty, Robert Lopez

12
25 3
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
KhushiRathi added Wicked Stephen Schwartz , Winnie Holzman

13
33 7
Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway

14
54 34
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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice

15
44 27
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In the Heights Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

16
19 3
Dear Evan Hansen is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
JadenReyes added Dear Evan Hansen

17
35 31
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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin

18
42 30
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Next to Normal Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey

19
32 30
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Rock of Ages Chris D'Arienzo

20
29 31
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Once Upon a Mattress Mary Rodgers, Marshall Barer, Dean Fuller

21
19 17
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
18markj added Hedwig and the Angry Inch Stephen Trask , John Cameron Mitchell

22
27 27
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Urinetown Mark Hollmann, Greg Kotis

23
14 17
Fun Home is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
PaulJ.Hernandez added Fun Home Lisa Kron , Jeanine Tesori

24
12 9
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
19 29
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Sunday in the Park with George James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim

26
21 24
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Once on This Island Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens

27
18 26
Falsettos is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Falsettos James Lapine, William Finn

28
14 28
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Grey Gardens Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, Doug Wright

29
13 25
Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in '... is listed (or ranked) 29 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

30
9 25
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Passing Strange Heidi Rodewald, Stew

31
7 22
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Romance/Romance Barry Michael Harman, Keith Harman

32
8 24
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The Me Nobody Knows Gary William Friedman, Will Holt

33
10 22
Leader of the Pack is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Leader of the Pack Jeff Barry, Jeff Kent, Ellen Foley

34
7 23
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Caroline, or Change Jeanine Tesori, Tony Kushner

35
8 25
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A Year with Frog and Toad Willie Reale, Robert Reale

36
7 24
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The Life Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, David Newman

37
5 20
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Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Melvin Van Peebles

38
6 23
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Runaways Elizabeth Swados

39
6 23
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A Class Act Edward Kleban

40
7 26
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James Joyce's the Dead Shaun Davey, Richard Nelson

41
6 22
Blues in the Night is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Blues in the Night Sheldon Epps

42
5 20
Tintypes is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Tintypes Mel Marvin, Gary Pearle

43
5 21
Contact is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Contact John Weidman

44
5 24
Starmites is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Musicals That Started Off-Broadway
Starmites Barry Keating, Stuart Ross