Culture

The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Constance Bennet
Updated February 21, 2020 2M views 87 items

These are 80+ of the most popular Broadway musicals in history, listed according to their durations on the stage. The longest running Broadway musicals are part of the American musical canon with familiar songs that people hum to themselves or sing out loud, featuring stories generations know and love. Each of these productions has been performed at least 1,000 times in New York's famous Broadway theaters.

So what are the most popular Broadway shows? From well-known classic shows like Les Misérables and Cats to newer hits like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, these famous musicals with the most performances still gain new fans each year. Many of them are still running to this day, such as The Phantom of the Opera, which has been performed on Broadway more times than any other production. Among the top 20 most performed shows list below, there are iconic examples of the best of the form and major works from some of the best musical theater writers, choreographers, and performers of all time.

The biggest Broadway shows have toured America and the world alike, with long runs in London's West End and the Chicago Theatre District. Others have been adapted into live TV events. And there are plenty more that would make great movies if only someone would take a shot. This list features only musicals, so you won't find any of your favorite Neil Simon plays or more recent non-musical hits. So, what are the greatest Broadway musicals of all time? Check out the list below for your answer.

1
The Phantom of the Opera... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on January 26, 1988. Has featured more than 13,000 performances as of the start of 2020.

The Phantom of the Opera is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart. Richard Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber wrote the musical's book together. Stilgoe also provided ...more

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#9 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #3 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #4 of 25 The Best Broadway Shows Right Now

2
Chicago is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on November 14, 1996. Has featured more than 9,600 performances as of the start of 2020.

Chicago (Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville) is an American musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Jazz-age Chicago, the musical is based on a ...more

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#6 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #7 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #8 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies

3
The Lion King is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on November 13, 1997. Has featured more than 9,200 performances as of the start of 2020.

The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Walt Disney Animation Studios' animated feature film of the same name with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Roger Allers and ...more

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#5 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #6 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #1 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies

4
Cats is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on October 7, 1982. Closed on September 10, 2000. Featured 7,485 performances.

Cats is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, and produced by Cameron Mackintosh. The musical tells the story of a tribe of cats ...more

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Every Song in Cats, Ranked by Singability #70 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #21 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals

5
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on October 30, 2003. Has featured more than 6,700 performances as of the start of 2020.

Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. It is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life ...more

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The Best Songs in Wicked, Ranked by Singability #3 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #2 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals

6
Les Misérables is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on March 12, 1987. Closed on May 18, 2003. Featured 6680 performances.

Les Misérables, colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz is a sung-through musical based on the novel Les Misérables by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo. It has music by ...more

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#2 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #1 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #1 of 33 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 80s

7
A Chorus Line is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on July 25, 1975. Closed on April 28, 1990. Featured 6,137 performances.

A Chorus Line is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante. Centred on seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning for ...more

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#21 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #16 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #2 of 34 The Best Broadway Musicals of the '70s

8
Oh! Calcutta! is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on September 24, 1976. Closed on August 6, 1989. Revival featured 5,959 performances.

Opened on June 17, 1969. Closed on August 12, 1972. Original run featured 1,314 performances.

9
Mamma Mia! is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on October 18, 2001. Closed September 12, 2015. Featured 5,758 performances.

Mamma Mia! is a jukebox musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The ...more

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#27 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #1 of 28 The Best Jukebox Musical Plays, Ranked #15 of 39 The Best Broadway Shows for Kids

10
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on April 18, 1994. Closed on July 29, 2007. Featured 5,461 performances.

Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton. Adapted from Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning 1991 ...more

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#17 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #26 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #2 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies

11
Rent is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on April 29, 1996. Closed on September 7, 2008. Featured 5,123 performances.

Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson loosely based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling ...more

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#15 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #4 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #1 of 42 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 90s

12
Jersey Boys is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on November 6, 2005. Closed on January 15, 2017. Featured 4,642 performances.

Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It is presented in a documentary-style format that dramatizes the ...more

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#53 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #34 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #2 of 28 The Best Jukebox Musical Plays, Ranked

13
Miss Saigon is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on April 11, 1991. Closed on January 28, 2001. Featured 4,092 performances.

Miss Saigon is a musical by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, with lyrics by Boublil and Richard Maltby, Jr. It is based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, and similarly ...more

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#28 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #27 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #42 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies

14
The Book of Mormon is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time
The Book of Mormon

Opened on March 24, 2011. Has featured more than 3,600 performances as of the start of 2020.

The Book of Mormon is a musical comedy. First staged in 2011, the play is a satirical examination of Mormon beliefs and practices that ultimately endorses the positive power of love and service. ...more

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Every Song In 'The Book Of Mormon,' Ranked By Singability #8 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #5 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals

15
42nd Street is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on August 25, 1980. Closed on January 8, 1989. Original run featured 3,486 performances.

Opened on May 2, 2001. Closed on January 2, 2005. Revival featured 1,524 performances.

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#81 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #29 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies #9 of 33 The Best Broadway Musicals of the 80s

16
Grease is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on February 14, 1972. Closed on April 13, 1980. Original run featured 3,388 performances.

Opened on May 11, 1994. Closed on January 25, 1998. Revival featured 1,505 performances.

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#2,167 of 3,542 The Greatest Albums of All-Time #26 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #58 of 112 Albums You're Guaranteed To Find In Every Parent's CD Collection

17
Fiddler on the Roof is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on September 22, 1964. Closed on July 2, 1972. Featured 3,242 performances.

Fiddler on the Roof is a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, set in the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia in 1905. It is based on Tevye and ...more

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#23 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #11 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #3 of 38 The Best Plays Based on Books

18
Hello, Dolly! is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on January 16, 1964. Closed on December 27, 1970. Featured 2,844 performances.

Hello, Dolly! is a musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder's 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled ...more

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#40 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #37 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #1 of 13 The Best Musicals by Jerry Herman

19
My Fair Lady is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time
My Fair Lady

Opened on March 15, 1956. Closed on September 29, 1962. Featured 2,717 performances.

My Fair Lady is a musical based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. The story concerns Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower ...more

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#20 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #17 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #20 of 25 The Best Broadway Shows Right Now

20
Hairspray is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on August 16, 2002. Closed on January 4, 2009. Featured 2,642 performances.

Hairspray is an American musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on John Waters’s 1988 film of the same ...more

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#13 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #12 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #5 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies

21
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on November 16, 2006. Closed on March 3, 2013. Featured 2,619 performances.

Mary Poppins is a musical with music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (the Sherman Brothers) and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, and a ...more

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#12 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #9 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies #2 of 39 The Best Broadway Shows for Kids

22
Avenue Q is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time
Avenue Q

Opened on July 31, 2003. Closed on September 13, 2009. Featured 2,534 performances.

Avenue Q is an American musical in two acts, conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. The book was written by Jeff Whitty and the show was directed by Jason ...more

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Every Song in Avenue Q, Ranked by Singability #39 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #15 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals

23
Kinky Boots is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on April 4, 2013. Closed on April 7, 2019. Featured 2,505 performances.

Kinky Boots is a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Based on the 2005 British film Kinky Boots, written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth and ...more
24
The Producers is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on April 19, 2001. Closed on April 22, 2007. Featured 2,502 performances.

The Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks' 1968 film of the same name, with lyrics written by Brooks and music composed by Brooks and arranged by Glen Kelly ...more

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#38 of 204 The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked #24 of 65 The Best Tony Award Winning Musicals #17 of 71 The Best Musicals Based on Movies

25
Aladdin is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Opened on March 20, 2014. Has featured more than 2,400 performances as of the start of 2020.

Aladdin is a musical based on the 1992 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin. The story follows the familiar ...more