History The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever

Constance Bennet
1.9M views 94 items

These are the 94 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 and stories. What are the most popular Broadway shows? From standards like "Cats" and "Les Miserables" to newer hits like "Wicked," these famous musicals with the most performances are instant classics that are favorites among generations. Some have even been adapted into live tv events. And, being a theater nerd myself, I hope to see each and every one of these top plays live on stage in my lifetime. So, what are the most famous Broadway musicals of all time?

For more, vote on this list of Stage Musicals That Would Make Great Movies.

1
The Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on January 26, 1988. Featured its 10,000th performance in 2012. The Phantom of the Opera is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart with additions from Richard Stilgoe. Lloyd Webber and Stilgoe also wrote the musical's book ...more
2
Cats is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on October 7, 1982. Closed on September 10, 2000. Featured 7485 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
3
Chicago is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on November 14, 1996. Featured 7,349 performances. Chicago is a musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by ...more
4
The Lion King is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on November 13, 1997. Featured 6,943 performances. The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral ...more
5
Les Misérables is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
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
6
Oh! Calcutta! is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever

Opened on September 24, 1976. Closed on August 6, 1989. Featured 5959 performances.

Opened on June 17, 1969. Closed on August 12, 1972. Featured 1314 performances.
Oh! Calcutta! is an avant-garde theatrical revue, created by British drama critic Kenneth Tynan. The show, consisting of sketches on sex-related topics, debuted Off-Broadway in 1969 and then in ...more
7
A Chorus Line is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on July 25, 1975. Closed on April 28, 1990. Featured 6137 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
8
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on April 18, 1994. Closed on July 29, 2007. Featured 5461 performances. Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton. Based on the 1991 film of the same name, which was in turn ...more
9
Mamma Mia! is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on October 18, 2001. Featured 5,287 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
10
Rent is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on April 29, 1996. Closed on September 7, 2008. Featured 5123 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
11
Wicked is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on October 30, 2003. Featured 4,470 performances. 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
12
Miss Saigon is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on April 11, 1991. Closed on January 28, 2001. Featured 4097 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
13
Jersey Boys is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on November 6, 2005. Featured 3,612 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
14
42nd Street is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever

Opened on August 25, 1980. Closed on January 8, 1989. Featured 3486 performances.

Opened on May 2, 2001. Closed on January 2, 2005. Featured 1524 performances.
42nd Street is a musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin, and music by Harry Warren. The 1980 Broadway production, Produced by David Merrick, directed by an ...more
15
Grease is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever

Opened on February 14, 1972. Closed on April 13, 1980. Featured 3388 performances.

Opened on May 11, 1994. Closed on January 25, 1998. Featured 1505 performances.
Grease is a 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. Named for the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as greasers, the musical is set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High ...more
16
Fiddler on the Roof is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on September 22, 1964. Closed on July 2, 1972. Featured 3242 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
17
Life with Father is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Life with Father
Opened on November 8, 1939. Closed on July 12, 1947. Featured 3224 performances.
18
Tobacco Road is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Tobacco Road
Opened on December 4, 1933. Closed on May 31, 1941. Featured 3182 performances.
19
Hello, Dolly! is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Hello, Dolly!
Opened on January 16, 1964. Closed on December 27, 1970. Featured 2844 performances.
20
My Fair Lady is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on March 15, 1956. Closed on September 29, 1962. Featured 2717 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
21
Hairspray is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on August 16, 2002. Closed on January 4, 2009. Featured 2642 performances. Hairspray is a musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray. The songs ...more
22
Avenue Q is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on July 31, 2003. Closed on September 13, 2009. Featured 2534 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
23
The Producers is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on April 19, 2001. Closed on April 22, 2007. Featured 2502 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
24
Cabaret is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever

Opened on March 19, 1998. Closed on January 4, 2004. Featured 2377 performances.

Opened on November 20, 1966. Closed on September 6, 1969. Featured 1165 performances.
Cabaret is a musical based on a book written by Christopher Isherwood, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The 1966 Broadway production became a hit, inspiring numerous subsequent ...more
25
Annie is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Opened on April 21, 1977. Closed on January 2, 1983. Featured 2377 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 ...more