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The Most Popular Broadway Musicals of All Time

Updated February 21, 2020 2.1m views87 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.

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  • 26

    Opened on January 12, 2014. Closed on October 27, 2019. Featured 2,416 performances.

    Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is a jukebox musical with a book by Douglas McGrath that tells the story of the early life and career of Carole King, using songs that she wrote, often together...  more
  • 27

    Opened on April 21, 1977. Closed on January 2, 1983. Featured 2,377 performances.

    Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and the book by Thomas Meehan. The original...  more

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  • 28

    Opened on March 19, 1998. Closed on January 4, 2004. Revival featured 2,377 performances.

    Opened on November 20, 1966. Closed on September 6, 1969. Original run featured 1,165 performances.

  • 29

    Opened on November 22, 1965. Closed on June 26, 1971. Featured 2,328 performances.

    Man of La Mancha is a musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman's non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, which was in turn...  more
  • 30

    Opened on April 7, 2009. Closed on January 18, 2015. Featured 2,328 performances.

    Rock of Ages is a jukebox musical built around classic rock songs from the 1980s, especially from the famous glam metal bands of that decade. The musical features songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi,...  more
  • 31

    Opened on March 31, 1943. Closed on May 29, 1948. Featured 2,212 performances.

    Oklahoma! is the first musical written by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is based on Lynn Riggs' 1931 play, Green Grow the Lilacs. Set in farm...  more

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  • 32

    Opened on March 2, 1995. Closed on January 16, 2000. Featured 2,036 performances.

    Smokey Joe's Cafe is a musical revue showcasing 39 pop standards, including rock and roll and rhythm and blues songs written by songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The Original Broadway cast...  more

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  • 33

    Opened on October 23, 1972. Closed on June 12, 1977. Featured 1,944 performances.

    Pippin is a 1972 musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson. Bob Fosse, who directed the original Broadway production, also contributed to the libretto. The...  more

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  • 34

    Opened on April 7, 1949. Closed on January 16, 1954. Featured 1,925 performances.

    South Pacific is a musical composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan. The work premiered in 1949 on Broadway and was an immediate hit,...  more
  • 35

    Opened on May 28, 1974. Closed on December 31, 1978. Featured 1,920 performances.

    The Magic Show is a one-act musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Bob Randall. It starred magician Doug Henning. Produced by Edgar Lansbury, it opened in May 1974 at the...  more
  • 36

    Opened on August 6, 2015. Has featured more than 1,800 performances as of the start of 2020.

    Hamilton: An American Musical is a sung- and rapped-through musical about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, with music, lyrics and book by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the...  more
  • 37

    Opened on March 23, 2000. Closed on September 5, 2004. Featured 1,852 performances.

    Aida (also known as Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida) is a musical based on the opera of the same name written by Antonio Ghislanzoni with music by Giuseppe Verdi. It has music by Elton John, lyrics by...  more

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  • 38

    Opened on March 27, 1978. Closed on June 27, 1982. Featured 1,793 performances.

    Dancin' is a musical revue first produced in 1978, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, who won a Tony Award for the choreography. The show is a tribute to the art of dance, and the music is a...  more
  • 39

    Opened on August 21, 1983. Closed on November 15, 1987. Featured 1,761 performances.

    La Cage aux Folles (French pronunciation: ​[la kaʒ o fɔl]) is a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and lyrics and music by Jerry Herman. Based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean...  more

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  • 40

    Hair

    Opened on April 29, 1968. Closed on July 1, 1972. Featured 1,750 performances.

    Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counterculture and sexual...  more
  • 41

    Opened on January 5, 1975. Closed on January 28, 1979. Featured 1,672 performances.

    The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is a musical with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls (and others) and book by William F. Brown. It is a retelling of L. Frank Baum's classic...  more
  • 42

    Opened on February 19, 1992. Closed on January 7, 1996. Featured 1,622 performances.

    Crazy for You is a romantic love musical with a book by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. Billed as "The New Gershwin Musical Comedy", it is largely based on the...  more
  • 43

    Opened on May 9, 1978. Closed on February 21, 1982. Featured 1,604 performances.

    Ain't Misbehavin' is a musical revue with a book by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby Jr., and music by various composers and lyricists as arranged and orchestrated by Luther Henderson. It is named...  more
  • 44

    Opened on June 19, 1978. Closed on March 27, 1982. Featured 1,584 performances.

    The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a musical with a book by Texas author Larry L. King and Peter Masterson and music and lyrics by Carol Hall. It is based on a story by King that was inspired by...  more
  • 45

    Spamalot

    Opened on March 17, 2005. Closed on January 11, 2009. Featured 1,575 performances.

    Monty Python's Spamalot is a musical comedy adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, but it differs from...  more

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  • 46

    Evita

    Opened on September 25, 1979. Closed on June 26, 1983. Featured 1,567 performances.

    Evita is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. It concentrates on the life of Argentine political leader Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón....  more
  • 47

    Opened on April 11, 2013. Closed on January 1, 2017. Featured 1,554 performances.

    Matilda the Musical is a stage musical based on the 1988 children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. The musical's narrative...  more
  • 48

    Opened on April 24, 2016. Closed on January 5, 2020. Featured 1,544 performances.

    Waitress is a musical with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, and a book by Jessie Nelson. Based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly, the musical tells the story of Jenna...  more
  • 49

    Opened on April 28, 1997. Closed on January 7, 2001. Featured 1,543 performances.

    Jekyll & Hyde is a musical thriller based on the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Originally conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, it...  more
  • 50

    Opened on December 20, 1981. Closed on August 11, 1985. Featured 1,521 performances.

    Dreamgirls is a Broadway musical, with music by Henry Krieger and lyrics and book by Tom Eyen. Based upon the show business aspirations and successes of R&B acts such as The Supremes, The Shirelles,...  more