Top grossing Broadway shows of all time
In modern times, musical theatre is relatively polarizing. There are few who feel apathy to the medium; people either genuinely enjoy the shows they see and the music they hear, or they have a true distaste for the combination of singing, speaking, and dancing - often all at once.
Musical theatre wasn’t always like that. Song, dance, and dialogue were always part of the equation, but the song and dance in question were, historically, unrelated to the plot. The Phantom of the Opera would likely have switched out “The Point of No Return” for a line of kicking chorus girls. Everything changed on March 31, 1943 when Oklahoma! first opened on Broadway. The first musical born from the Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration, Oklahoma! used song and dance in a revolutionary manner: to advance the plot.
When we look at Hamilton, a musical comprised almost entirely of song and dance, it’s near inconceivable to consider the speed with which musical theatre has advanced since the mid-20th century. There is something of a revolution happening on Broadway with Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical as people who have never seen a show flock to see the hip-hop infused, founding father inspired work.
Hamilton’s success led Stacker to wonder what the highest grossing Broadway musicals of all time were. Using data from Broadway League, Stacker ranked the shows based on the amount they grossed in a single run. This means revivals were counted as separate from the original runs. Because some runs spanned multiple years, inflation was not taken into account. Additionally, as the data begins in 1984, some older shows (such as Oklahoma!) are excluded from the list.
#100. Grease (2007 Revival)
Total Gross: $47,473,854.00
Total Attendance: 551,325
Look at me, I’m Grease - round three. The 2007 revival of the hit show was, in fact, the third of its kind, and these numbers proved fans loved it no less than the first two times. Well, maybe a little less. In this revival, a few songs written originally for the film score (including “Hopelessly Devoted to You”) were added into the mix.
#99. The Full Monty
Total Gross: $47,862,021.00
Total Attendance: 764,040
Based off a British film of the same name, The Full Monty came to Broadway in 2000 and was promptly nominated for a slew of Tony and Drama Desk awards. The musical follows six steelworkers from buffalo who decide, amongst uncertain financial prospects, to strip at a local club for some extra cash.
#98. Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
Total Gross: $48,763,891.89
Total Attendance: 616,609
Adapted from the Australian movie “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” Priscilla first came to Broadway in 2011 after running in Australia, England, and Canada for a number of years. The musical uses famous pop songs from the ‘80s such as “Like a Prayer” and “It’s Raining Men” to depict the story of two drag queens and one transgender woman who travel together to perform a drag show in rural Australia.
#97. A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
Total Gross: $48,856,284.00
Total Attendance: 924,216
This musical came as Stephen Sondheim was settling into his rhythm, a few years following the massive success of West Side Story. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is about a Roman slave who tries to win his freedom by seducing the woman who lives next door - to hilarious ends.
#96. Fiddler On The Roof (2015 Revival)
Total Gross: $49,724,448.83
Total Attendance: 569,518
Originally released in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof is recreated across hundreds of high-schools in the United States every year - it’s a favorite for children and adults alike. It was the first musical in theatre history to surpass 3,000 performances in a single run.
Total Gross: $49,783,058.26
Total Attendance: 431,457
First run in 2017, it’s impressive that Anastasia has already crept onto this list. That being said, anyone who’s seen the 1997 film is sure to love this adaptation. The musical tells the story of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, who claims she escaped the tragic fate that befell her family.
#94. Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812
Total Gross: $50,069,393.21
Total Attendance: 404,558
Well, it was inevitable that someone would try to make a musical from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. If it had to be done, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 with two Tony’s and four Drama Desk wins was the musical to do it. It focuses on the end of the second half of War and Peace, when Natasha conducts her affair with Anatole.
Total Gross: $50,071,359.67
Total Attendance: 579,261
Cirque du Soleil’s first foray into musical theatre came with Paramour, a part musical, part acrobatic feat that follows the life of a poet during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
#92. Hedwig And The Angry Inch
Total Gross: $50,259,431.11
Total Attendance: 459,696
Hedwig and the Angry Inch is about a transgender woman and...well, her angry inch. Although it premiered Off-Broadway in 1998, it didn’t make it to Broadway until 2014 when Neil Patrick Harris stepped into the titular role.
Total Gross: $50,570,854.00
Total Attendance: 613,014
First premiering in 1968, Hair came back to Broadway in 2009 to strong reviews. A product of the ‘60s, Hair was pioneering by being the first rock ‘n roll musical - defining the “rock musical” genre that was to be later used in many beloved musicals, like Rent. It tells the story of a tribe of people in New York City fighting against involvement in the Vietnam War.2018 All rights reserved.