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Broadway’s 10 Longest Running Shows

Adam Young | September 26, 2017
The longest running shows on Broadway.
This might as well be titled “Broadway’s Longest Running Musicals,” because more than anything else, we theatergoers love the shows that feature song and dance. While some will come as no surprise, as they’re notorious mainstays in Times Square (ahem Cats), some of the longest running shows are actually younger than you might think. Besides their longevity, these shows have another thing in common: They have gross ticket sales that surpass the $1 billion mark. Here are the top 10 shows that have made their life a stage.

#10 - Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was trailblazing, as it was the first time Disney adapted one of its animated musicals for the New York stage. It opened in April of 1995 and would play for more than 5,000 shows before closing in late July 2017. That’s a solid run of over 14 years.

#9 - Wicked

This musical that follows two characters from The Wizard of Oz premiered in New York in October 2003, and is still consistently one of the most popular shows on Broadway. The show was nominated for 10 Tony awards in 2004. Idina Menzel took home a statue for Best Female Lead in a Musical, and the show also won for Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design. Wicked is on stage now at the Gershwin Theatre, and clocks in with 5,771 performances to date.

#8 - Mamma Mia!

We can probably safely assume that this will be the longest running show based on the music of a Swedish pop/disco vocal group on Broadway. This musical premiered on West End in London before opening on Broadway in October 2001. Mamma Mia! ran for an impressive 5,773 performances.

#7 - Oh Calcutta!

This musical revue started as an Off-Broadway sensation in 1969 before moving to London. It premiered on Broadway in 1976 and ran for 5,959 shows, making it the longest running naked musical revue in Broadway history.

#6 - A Chorus Line

This is a musical about the production of a musical featuring 17 hopeful dancers at an audition on a bare Broadway stage. After a short Off-Broadway run, the show moved to the Shubert Theatre on July 25, 1975, where it ran for 6,137 performances, finally closing in April 1990.

#5 - Les Misérables

Based on the 1862 historical novel by Victor Hugo, Les Misérables opened on Broadway on March 12, 1987, after successful runs in Paris and on London’s West End. It ran at the Broadway Theatre for 6,680 performances, enough to put it in the top five all-time list.

#4 - Cats

It may not surprise you that this legendary show made the top 10, but Cats is the first show on the list by powerhouse composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. The original Broadway production opened in October 1982 and ran at the Winter Garden until 2000 after an impressive 6,138 shows. The revival opened in 2016, and the current overall tally of performances is more than 7,500 and counting.

#3 - The Lion King

Another adaptation of a Disney movie, this family-friendly Broadway experience shows no sign of slowing down. With music by Elton John and elaborate costuming, this show opened on Broadway in the fall of 2007, and it is coming up on its 10th anniversary on Broadway. It has delighted audiences over 8,000 times in its history.

#2 - Chicago

Like Cats, this show is also a revival. Opening in 1975, the original production ran for nearly 1,000 performances. But the revival that opened in November of 1996 was much more critically acclaimed and won six Tony awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. As the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, Chicago has seen the curtain go up 8,635 times.

#1 - The Phantom of the Opera

Floating, falling into the No. 1 spot on the list is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Phantom of the Opera. After a two-year run on London’s West End, this show opened to rave reviews in 1988 and took home the Tony award for Best Musical. With over 12,000 performances and counting, it looks as though Phantom will be giving us the music of the night for plenty of time to come.
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