history The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever

Constance Bennet
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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 Broadway shows with the most performances are instant classics that are favorites among generations. 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
The Phantom of the Opera 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

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2
Cats is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Cats 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
Chicago 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
The Lion King 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
Les Misérables 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
Oh! Calcutta!

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
A Chorus Line 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
Beauty and the Beast 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
Mamma Mia! 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
Rent 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
Wicked 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
Miss Saigon 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
Jersey Boys 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
42nd Street

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
Grease

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

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16
Fiddler on the Roof is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Fiddler on the Roof 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
My Fair Lady 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
Hairspray 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
Avenue Q 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
The Producers 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
Cabaret

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
Annie 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

26
Man of La Mancha is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Man of La Mancha Opened on November 22, 1965. Closed on June 26, 1971. Featured 2328 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 ...more

27
Abie's Irish Rose is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Abie's Irish Rose Opened on May 23, 1922. Closed on October 1, 1927. Featured 2327 performances.

28
Oklahoma! is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Oklahoma! Opened on March 31, 1943. Closed on May 29, 1948. Featured 2212 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 ...more

29
Smokey Joe's Cafe is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Smokey Joe's Cafe Opened on March 2, 1995. Closed on January 16, 2000. Featured 2036 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 ...more

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Pippin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Pippin Opened on October 23, 1972. Closed on June 12, 1977. Featured 1944 performances. Pippin is a Tony Award-winning 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 ...more

31
South Pacific is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
South Pacific Opened on April 7, 1949. Closed on January 16, 1954. Featured 1925 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 ...more

32
The Magic Show is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
The Magic Show Opened on May 28, 1974. Closed on December 31, 1978. Featured 1920 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 ...more

33
Aida is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Aida Opened on March 23, 2000. Closed on September 5, 2004. Featured 1852 performances. Aida is a musical with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang, and produced by Walt Disney Theatrical. Aida premiered on ...more

34
Happy Birthday, Gemini is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Happy Birthday, Gemini Opened on May 21, 1977. Closed on September 6, 1981. Featured 1819 performances.

35
Deathtrap is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Deathtrap Opened on February 26, 1978. Closed on June 13, 1982. Featured 1793 performances. Deathtrap is a play written by Ira Levin in 1978 with many plot twists and which references itself as a play within a play. It is in two acts with one set and five characters. It holds the ...more

36
Harvey is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Harvey Opened on November 1, 1944. Closed on January 15, 1949. Featured 1775 performances. Harvey is a 1944 play by the American playwright Mary Chase. Chase received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work in 1945. It has been adapted for film and television several times, most ...more

37
Dancin' is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Dancin' Opened on March 27, 1978. Closed on June 27, 1982. Featured 1774 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 ...more

38
La Cage aux Folles is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
La Cage aux Folles Opened on August 21, 1983. Closed on November 15, 1987. Featured 1761 performances. La Cage aux Folles 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 Poiret, it focuses on a gay couple: ...more

39
Hair is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Hair Opened on April 29, 1968. Closed on July 1, 1972. Featured 1750 performances. Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counterculture and sexual ...more

40
The Wiz is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
The Wiz Opened on January 5, 1975. Closed on January 28, 1979. Featured 1672 performances. The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is a musical with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown. It is a retelling of L. Frank Baum's The ...more

41
Born Yesterday is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Born Yesterday Opened on February 4, 1946. Closed on December 31, 1949. Featured 1642 performances. Born Yesterday is a play written by Garson Kanin which premiered on Broadway in 1946, starring Judy Holliday as Billie Dawn. The play was adapted into a successful 1950 film of the same name.

42
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Mary Poppins Opened on November 16, 2006. Featured 1637 performances. Mary Poppins is a musical with music and lyrics by the Academy Award-winning Sherman Brothers and a script by Julian Fellowes. The musical is based on the similarly titled series of children's ...more

43
Crazy for You is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Crazy for You Opened on February 19, 1992. Closed on January 7, 1996. Featured 1622 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 ...more

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44
Ain't Misbehavin' is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Ain't Misbehavin' Opened on May 9, 1978. Closed on February 21, 1982. Featured 1604 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 ...more

45
The Best Little Whorehouse in ... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Opened on June 19, 1978. Closed on March 27, 1982. Featured 1584 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 ...more

46
Spamalot is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Spamalot Opened on March 17, 2005. Closed on January 11, 2009. Featured 1575 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 ...more

47
Mary, Mary is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Mary, Mary Opened on March 8, 1961. Closed on December 12, 1964. Featured 1572 performances.

48
Evita is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Evita Opened on September 25, 1979. Closed on June 26, 1983. Featured 1567 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 ...more

49
The Voice of the Turtle is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
The Voice of the Turtle Opened on December 8, 1943. Closed on January 3, 1948. Featured 1557 performances.

50
Jekyll & Hyde is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Popular Broadway Musicals Ever
Jekyll & Hyde Opened on April 28, 1997. Closed on January 7, 2001. Featured 1543 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 ...more