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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Total Gross: $51,461,741.01
Total Attendance: 543,472
Nice Work If You Can Get It brought Gershwin music back to the stage in 2011. It tells the story of a female bootlegger in 1927 who unexpectedly falls for a soon-to-be-wed bachelor.
Total Gross: $52,509,229.43
Total Attendance: 721,574
You saw it in The Sound of Music, and you see it again in Sister Act: singing nuns (except this time, Maria is nowhere to be found). Sister Act is about a performer who has to be placed into the witness protection program after she sees her gangster ex-boyfriend kill someone.
Total Gross: $52,678,169.50
Total Attendance: 474,853
A musical about the life of Eva Perón, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Perón, Evita became the first British musical ever to win the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1980 when it came to Broadway.
Total Gross: $54,390,759.00
Total Attendance: 1,148,704
Following the life of a deaf and blind child, this rock musical is based on The Who's rock opera Tommy. The album and the Broadway musical, which opened in 1992, have a few plot differences but the same story of the Pinball Wizard called Tommy. The original production won five Tony awards, including Best Original Score.
Total Gross: $54,448,939.14
Total Attendance: 1,118,863
A truly unique musical, Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk covers black history from slavery to then-present-day, 1996, through a combination of rap and tap. The musical won four Tony Awards and two Drama Desk Awards.
Total Gross: $54,540,020.27
Total Attendance: 681,614
The first run of A Chorus Line made it the sixth-longest running show in Broadway history - a well-deserved run, according to its nine Tony Awards. Focusing on seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning, A Chorus Line swept the Drama Desk Awards, too, and to date remains a favorite among fans.
Total Gross: $54,685,976.00
Total Attendance: 1,155,341
Following the life of American performer and cowboy Will Rogers, Will Rogers' Follies is a comedic musical that enjoyed a successful run.
Total Gross: $55,182,500.05
Total Attendance: 528,669
A Bronx Tale is the musical adaptation of the 1989 play of the same name: although the play was a one-man show, the musical featured a cast of six. Premiering on Broadway in 2016 under Robert de Niro’s co-direction, the musical is a coming-of-age story about a man torn between a life of organized crime and the values instilled in him by his father.
Total Gross: $56,338,126.00
Total Attendance: 814,072
What other musical could have an opening song called “Omigod You Guys” and make it so genuinely entertaining? Based off the movie starring Reese Whitherspoon, Legally Blonde follows Elle Woods as she marches determinedly to law school to win back her man. The musical managed to gross over $1 million in a single week during its Broadway run.
Total Gross: $57,045,053.00
Total Attendance: 494,187
Rodgers & Hammerstein outdid themselves with The King and I, the fifth in a long line of successful productions. The 2015 revival to make this list is the fourth Broadway revival since 1951, and won four Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical.
Total Gross: $57,150,546.00
Total Attendance: 1,065,828
Despite what you may think, Jack and Rose don’t make it on this ship: the musical Titanic actually premiered a few months before the movie was released, and promptly swept the Tony Awards. With a nimble score, Titanic has evolved into a staple of musical theatre.
Total Gross: $57,441,834.49
Total Attendance: 767,167
It’s not every day that 19th century German plays are made into rock musicals. Spring Awakening explores young discovery of sexuality, and the innumerable ways society’s expectations hinder understanding of one’s self. Since its release in 2006, Spring Awakening has already been revived and had three U.S. tours.
Total Gross: $57,635,884.00
Total Attendance: 959,006
Although the fourth revival of Fiddler on the Roof did not win any Tony Awards, it did feature Rosie O’Donnell as sharp-tongued Golde.
Total Gross: $58,033,862.42
Total Attendance: 808,025
Based off the 1988 film of the same name, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels may not have performed as well at the awards as some others in 2004; but the premise was enough for many audience members to come back for more. Two con men compete for the affections of a beautiful woman who they presume to be very rich.
Total Gross: $58,754,023.00
Total Attendance: 995,827
About a soprano who dresses up as a man who then entertains performing as a woman, Victor/Victoria is a show better seen than read about. It endured some controversy when julie Andrews, playing the titular role, refused her Tony Award nomination, feeling the rest of the show’s members had been overlooked. It was the last musical Andrews would participate in--a botched surgery led to her losing her singing voice halfway through the run.
Total Gross: $59,051,947.70
Total Attendance: 677,853
It’s a hard knock life for those who missed this revival. Although not the recipient of any major awards, the story of Annie the orphan is likely to be one that will continue to be revived for many, many years.
Total Gross: $59,740,761.32
Total Attendance: 628,957
Based off a book of the same name, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is about an ambitious young man who rises from window washer to head of a large corporation, all with the help of his book. This revival brought Daniel Radcliffe to the starring role, and, at one point, Nick Jonas.
Total Gross: $60,218,526.15
Total Attendance: 931,293
A “dance play,” Contact follows three acts that feature different dances. In each, the main character yearns to feel some sort of romantic connection. It won four Tony Awards, and four Drama Desk Awards, so the experimental medium clearly paid off.
Total Gross: $61,642,043.00
Total Attendance: 2,032,198
About a dictatorial director who works to stage a famed production during the Great Depression, 42nd Street was met with wide success upon its Broadway opening in 1980. It was, however, an opening night marked by tragedy: the show’s beloved director, Gower Champion, died just hours before the performance.
Total Gross: $63,565,087.85
Total Attendance: 865,975
A satirical look at musicals of the 1920s, The Drowsy Chaperone follows a musical theatre fan through his favorite musical as it suddenly springs to life on stage around him. The original cast included Sutton Foster, and towards the end of the run featured Bob Saget.
Total Gross: $63,997,588.00
Total Attendance: 2,170,828
Premereing on Broadway for the first time in 1975, A Chorus Line makes the audience feel like they're sitting in on a regular audition for a real Broadway show. The musical, with several memorable characters and songs, swept the Tony Awards and the Drama Desk Awards in 1976.
Total Gross: $64,214,287.00
Total Attendance: 1,958,853
Based off a French play of the same name, La Cage Aux Folles won six Tony Awards when it first premiered in 1983. Highly entertaining, the musical features lovable characters and an impressive score. It tells the story of the chaos that ensues when a young man brings his fiancee's ultra-conservative parents to meet his father--and his father’s gay lover.
Total Gross: $64,214,522.00
Total Attendance: 723,370
Inspired by the classic tale of Peter Pan, Finding Neverland is actually an adaptation of the 1998 play The Man Who Was Peter Pan. It’s about a Scottish playwright who is so inspired by the close relationship he has with a friend’s family that he creates the story of Peter Pan.
Total Gross: $65,051,743.00
Total Attendance: 1,056,908
Cole Porter’s response to Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma came in the form of Kiss Me, Kate--a sharp, witty musical about the drama surrounding the cast members of a production of The Taming of the Shrew. The musical won the first ever presented Tony Award for Best Musical, and is considered Porter’s greatest work by many.
Total Gross: $65,261,039.11
Total Attendance: 461,668
This plays portrays the true, previously underreported story of when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in a small town on Canadian island Newfoundland following the 9/11 attacks. Premiering on Broadway in 2017, many felt it to be a cathartic reminder of the goodness of humanity. It has been announced a film adaptation is in the works.
Total Gross: $65,388,544.00
Total Attendance: 1,282,292
Set in the 1950s, Guys and Dolls is an infectious tale of gambling, gangsters, and the women they love. Since first premiering in 1950, the musical has been revived twice and seen multiple international tours.
Total Gross: $65,624,072.00
Total Attendance: 691,637
The 2016 revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical didn’t win any major awards, but people are willing to flock to the classic regardless.
Total Gross: $68,321,429.36
Total Attendance: 712,343
Based on the book of the same name, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is actually a play. The play is about a 15-year-old boy, a mathematical genius and somewhere on the autism spectrum, who takes it upon himself to investigate when he feels no-one else will. The play won multiple Tony and Drama Desk Awards, and is highlighted in particular for its set and design.
Total Gross: $68,840,076.48
Total Attendance: 659,865
First premiering on Broadway in 1971, Stephen Schwartz’s musical Pippin is about a young prince on an existential search for significance. The 2013 revival won four Tony Awards.
Total Gross: $68,997,052.09
Total Attendance: 1,121,921
Fosse celebrates one of the most awarded choreographers in American history: Bob Fosse. A three-act play, Fosse showcases Fosse’s celebrated choreography, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1990.
Total Gross: $72,344,100.00
Total Attendance: 1,450,252
Although Grease was relatively tame by the time it reached Broadway, the core concepts of class consciousness, teen pregnancy, and gang violence (and maybe even excess hair gel) were controversial at the premiere. These themes, combined with a catchy score, undoubtedly contribute to Grease’s prolonged success.
Total Gross: $73,500,365.77
Total Attendance: 870,214
There aren’t many musicals on this list that take place in the 16th century. It is a necessity for Something Rotten!, though, which follows two brothers in their desperate competition with the “hot stuff” of the 1500s--one William Shakespeare.
Total Gross: $73,749,113.73
Total Attendance: 749,169
A darkly comedic musical about a man willing to do just about anything to achieve riches and win the heart of the woman he loves, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder won the Tony Award for Best Musical when it premiered four years ago.
Total Gross: $74,975,253.00
Total Attendance: 726,281
Based off Michael Morpurgo’s book of the same name, War Horse is the visually stuffing stage adaptation of a horse who is sold into cavalry during World War I. A play that is applauded for its striking use of a puppet for the titular horse, War Horse was utterly compelling throughout its run.
Total Gross: $75,616,509.00
Total Attendance: 1,193,581
Sutton Foster won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002 - just one of six Tony’s won for the original production. Based on the 1967 film of the same name, the musical chronicles a small-town woman who moves to New York City to marry for money instead of love.
Total Gross: $78,056,880.30
Total Attendance: 1,403,224
Based off the famous book, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in this musical adaptation Frank Wildhorn’s score denotes the dramatic, tragic story of Jekyll & Hyde. A musical full of ballads and dark melodies, this is the perfect soundtrack for a very, very rainy day.
Total Gross: $79,655,591.00
Total Attendance: 2,061,437
In an unusual narrative, Me and My Girl hit Broadway nearly 50 years after its West End premiere in 1937, where it won three Tony Awards. The musical tells the story of an unabashed cockney man who unexpectedly discovers he is 14th in line to the title of Earl of Hareford.
Total Gross: $79,947,693.92
Total Attendance: 1,432,872
A unique narrative featuring a Harlem musician, the mother of an upper-class family in new York City, and a Jewish immigrant, all during the early 20th century, Ragtime won four Tony Awards when originally ran in 1998.
Total Gross: $82,148,713.00
Total Attendance: 1,415,850
Bernadette Peters starred in this third revival of the 1946 hit Annie Get Your Gun. The musical is a fictionalized account of famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley, and her romance with fellow shooter Frank E. Butler.
Total Gross: $82,993,598.69
Total Attendance: 986,179
Although based off the original myth of the Little Mermaid, this musical production most closely resembles the Disney film of the same name. It didn’t receive any major awards, but fans loved the similarities it shared with the film.
Total Gross: $83,327,962.00
Total Attendance: 1,490,342
Based on the 1956 film of the same name, the musical adaptation of Sunset Boulevard features Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. It received wide acclaim upon its release in 1997, receiving seven Tony Awards that same year.
Total Gross: $83,571,596.20
Total Attendance: 879,193
Gloria and Emilio Estefan: 26-time Grammy Award-winning Cuban couple who absolutely deserved to have a musical be made about their lives. On Your Feet! Premiered on Broadway in 2015, and was particularly noted for its choreography.
Total Gross: $85,539,226.32
Total Attendance: 882,254
Inspired by the film of the same name, An American in Paris premiered in 2015 to critical acclaim. As the film featured choreography by Gene Kelly, it is no wonder the musical adaptation focused on dancing, ultimately winning the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography.
Total Gross: $86,677,067.25
Total Attendance: 920,997
Yes: there is an Addams Family musical. If you weren’t sure, now you know. Hitting Broadway in 2010, The Addams Family won few major awards, but was loved by fans for its humor, and the affable appeal of its musical numbers.
Total Gross: $88,166,612.85
Total Attendance: 1,039,923
Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote Cinderella for film in 1957, and no one was complaining when it was adapted to stage in 2013. It is currently touring North America: you may as well try it on for size.
Total Gross: $88,346,877.00
Total Attendance: 1,904,856
Smokey Joe’s Cafe is unique in its genre; a musical revue, or a list of songs that have no unifying theme. It won a Grammy in 1996 for its music, although no Tony Awards.
Total Gross: $89,171,712.00
Total Attendance: 1,585,144
One of Oscar Hammerstein II’s musicals without Richard Rodgers, Show Boat follows life on a Mississippi River show boat for over 40 years. It was recognized instantly by critics, when first premiering in 1927, and has been revived on Broadway four times since.
Total Gross: $92,554,841.00
Total Attendance: 2,090,822
A Gershwin collaboration, Crazy for You is a romantic comedy musical about a man who decides that, despite all, the show must go on. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1992, and was celebrated by critics as “ridiculously entertaining.”
Total Gross: $93,028,431.00
Total Attendance: 1,074,462
Based on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, West Side Story takes 16th century England and somehow masterfully transposes it into New York City in the 1950s. Considered to have had an explosive impact on musical theatre, West Side Story was later adapted into a film of the same name, which received very positive reception.
Total Gross: $96,488,869.00
Total Attendance: 965,647
An instant hit in the mid-20th century, South Pacific is one of Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s most celebrated works. The story centers around an American nurse stationed on an island in the South Pacific during World War II, who struggles to accept her love’s mixed-race children.
Total Gross: $96,706,509.57
Total Attendance: 540,317
An endlessly entertaining story is that of a strong-willed woman who successfully bends a miserly man to her will--Hello, Dolly! is that, and so much more. The 2017 revival won four Tony Awards for its revitalization of the classic tale, which has spanned four Broadway revivals since its original Broadway premiere in 1964.
Total Gross: $97,225,917.76
Total Attendance: 789,673
With music and lyrics by pop singer Sara Bareilles, Waitress has been a Broadway favorite since 2016. Based on the movie of the same name, Waitress tells the story of a waitress (surprise!) who throws herself into her pie cooking as a mode of escapism.
Total Gross: $97,907,867.52
Total Attendance: 540,262
The most recent Tony Awards were swept by Dear Evan Hansen, which won six of its nominated nine. The story follows the titular character as he tries to navigate anxiety, high-school, and a desperate web of lies he constructs for himself in order to talk to the girl he has a crush on.
Total Gross: $99,919,700.57
Total Attendance: 1,436,759
Billy Joel’s music is featured here, in a musical about an American teen’s experience growing up on Long Island during the 1960s--inspired by Joel’s earlier works. Movin’ Out won two Tony Awards for its choreography and orchestration.
Total Gross: $103,992,555.74
Total Attendance: 1,369,564
Based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel, The Color Purple first ran on Broadway in 2005 and was promptly revived in 2015. Both versions received critical acclaim and experienced significant monetary success. The story follows that of Cecile, an African-American woman who is born and raised in the American South in the early 20th century.
Total Gross: $104,453,820.70
Total Attendance: 1,380,731
Recipient of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Memphis is about a white DJ who stirs up Memphis in the 1950s when he begins to play black music at various clubs. Filled with equally inspirational and painful moments, Memphis has enjoyed many international tours since its Broadway premiere.
Total Gross: $105,302,931.92
Total Attendance: 1,322,889
Lights up on Washington Heights, and Lin Manuel Miranda’s first musical. Workshopped for almost a decade, In the Heights ultimately won a Grammy and four Tony Awards after its Broadway premiere in 2008. The story is set over the course of just three days.
Total Gross: $108,535,573.28
Total Attendance: 1,210,117
One revival more! When protagonist Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread in 1862, he probably had no idea he’d be forced to sing about it for the next century or so. An incredible, lasting piece, he second revival of the adaptation of Victor Hugo’s book of the same name was particularly noted for its vibrant set.
Total Gross: $109,000,708.97
Total Attendance: 1,156,757
Based on the 1992 film of the same name, Newsies is about a group of paper delivery boys who have big dreams. Both works were inspired by the newsboys’ strike of 1899.
Total Gross: $110,306,772.41
Total Attendance: 1,082,027
Originally an indie, Irish romantic comedy film, the stage adaptation of Once has seen great success since first premiering on Broadway in 2012. The story centers on a broken-hearted Irish man whose music somehow manages to touch the heart of a Czech flower girl passing by. The two go on to become friends and assemble a band. The musical won eight Tony Awards and four Drama Desk Awards.
Total Gross: $115,002,540.25
Total Attendance: 1,063,474
Motown: The Musical is based on African-American businessman Berry Gordy III’s autobiography. The musical draws from the personal relationships he had with famous artists such as Michael Jackson and Diana Ross--a fitting premise for a jukebox musical.
Total Gross: $119,389,411.88
Total Attendance: 1,919,198
The second of three Broadway productions, this rendition of Cabaret added much-loved song “Maybe This Time” to its score. Cabaret is about an American writer and his relationship with and English cabaret performer during 1931 in Nazi Germany.
Total Gross: $120,021,724.93
Total Attendance: 1,226,659
School of Rock is, of course, a rock musical adaptation of the Jack Black film of the same name. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the score, and the original production was praised for the talented youths who filled it.
Total Gross: $121,918,908.29
Total Attendance: 1,731,068
Think Sesame Street for adults. Avenue Q is the only show on this list whose puppets feel, talk, and sing--they actually outnumber human characters almost four to one. One of the longest running shows on Broadway, the show won three Tony Awards when premiered in 2004.
Total Gross: $128,956,074.03
Total Attendance: 1,476,025
A jukebox musical focused on rock music, Rock of Ages features classics from Bon Jovi and Twisted Sister. It tells the story of an aspiring rocker who works as a waiter in Hollywood in the 1980s.
Total Gross: $133,018,977.90
Total Attendance: 2,228,839
The 2001 revival of 42nd Street won two Tony Awards, including for Best Revival of a Musical. It ran for 1,524 performances, to critical acclaim.
Total Gross: $165,928,398.00
Total Attendance: 2,714,193
With Elton John behind the score, it’s no wonder Aida was such a success when it first ran. Based on the 1994 film of the same name, Aida is a timeless love story about a forbidden romance between Egyptian leader Radames and Ethiopian princess, Aida.
Total Gross: $168,067,351.34
Total Attendance: 2,075,781
It’s almost inconceivable that Monty Python’s The Holy Grail could be adapted into a musical, but here we are. An immediate success, Monty Python’s Spamalot won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The story can perhaps be best surmised as a highly irreverent, immensely entertaining spin-off of the legend of King Arthur.
Total Gross: $183,514,364.50
Total Attendance: 1,787,108
Another modern hit composed by Elton John, Billy Elliot is about a young boy who decides he prefers dancing to boxing: and sticks by his choice. It was immensely popular upon release, earning ten Tony Awards and all ten Drama Desk Awards it was nominated for.
Total Gross: $198,165,845.05
Total Attendance: 2,087,293
When Roald Dahl first wrote the story of a young girl who developed the ability to move things with his mind, he might have never imagined it would eventually be transposed into a Broadway hit. Full of talented young actors, Matilda features a set covered in giant building blocks.
Total Gross: $211,351,937.64
Total Attendance: 1,687,322
Carole King, one of America’s most famous singer-songwriters, is reprised in this jukebox musical. Focusing on her early life, the musical tells the story of King’s rise to fame, and looks closely at her first marriage.
Total Gross: $212,406,016.80
Total Attendance: 2,068,468
U2’s Bono and The Edge collaborated on the score for this musical adaptation of Marvel’s Spider-Man, but in the end, the musical is most remembered for the sheer number of actors who were injured during its run. Dangerous stunts and lackluster reviews did nothing to stop floods of people from attending the show, bringing it up to one of the most profitable shows in Broadway history.
Total Gross: $252,181,270.39
Total Attendance: 3,418,653
Set in the 1960s when desegregation was still being fought in many ways, a white teenage girl sets about trying to integrate her favorite reality dance show. Extremely popular, the London production of Hairspray set a record for winning eleven Laurence Olivier Awards (the equivalent of the Tony Awards in Britain). The US version performed nearly as well, with eight Tony Awards won.
Total Gross: $274,248,128.25
Total Attendance: 5,026,616
A rock musical set in the late 20th-century about the bohemian lifestyle, impoverished young artists, and some of the darkest years of the HIV/AIDS crisis, Rent was revolutionary when it hit Broadway. It ran for 12 years, closing on its 5,123rd performance. The show’s creator never lived to see the show’s immense success: Jonathan Larson died unexpectedly on the night of the Off-Broadway premiere.
Total Gross: $275,792,770.18
Total Attendance: 2,507,414
Based off true events, Kinky Boots is adapted from the 2005 film of the same name, about a man who forms a partnership with a drag queen to produce a line of high-heeled boots. The production is still running on Broadway after premiering in 2013, and with four Tony Awards it’s sure to be worth a watch.
Total Gross: $285,843,974.25
Total Attendance: 6,161,098
In Les Misérables fashion, Miss Saigon is dramatic, beautiful, and tragic. Set in 1970s Saigon during the Vietnamese War, it tells the story of an American soldier and a bargirl from South Vietnam who fall in love. A defining hit of the 1990s, Miss Saigon won three Tony Awards and all four Drama Desk Awards it was nominated for.
Total Gross: $288,361,724.00
Total Attendance: 3,672,795
Adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from the film of the same name, The Producers is a musical about two theatrical producers who attempt to get rich by selling excess interests in a doomed Broadway show. Unfortunately for them, the show actually becomes a hit. With a record-breaking 12 Tony awards won, The Producers was a hit from start to finish.
Total Gross: $294,558,629.30
Total Attendance: 3,878,444
A Disney musical, Mary Poppins is based off the film and books of the same name. Julie Andrews did not, unfortunately, make it into this production, but fans loved the remake regardless.
Total Gross: $312,530,109.45
Total Attendance: 2,850,446
Another Disney favorite, Aladdin is about a young man who wishes good fortune on himself when he encounters a genie in a lamp. The only complaint about this adaptation is perhaps that Abu (Aladdin’s monkey) and Rajah (Jasmine’s tiger) are excluded from the production.
Total Gross: $328,067,131.25
Total Attendance: 1,481,005
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this one--it’s totally underground. Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical about the founding father, has attained unprecedented levels of popularity and pop culture obsession. 11 Tony Awards, a conversation starter (and ender) for most cocktail parties, if you can possibly find a ticket it’s worth seeing.
Total Gross: $366,379,566.87
Total Attendance: 8,652,030
One of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most well-known musicals, Cats made it to Broadway in 1982, a year after premiering on West End. The musical is about a tribe of cats who have to choose which of their members will back able to come back and enjoy a new life.
Total Gross: $406,258,901.85
Total Attendance: 8,926,089
Undoubtedly Claude-Michel Schönberg’s best-known work, Les Misérables is about an escaped convict who spends his life trying to make up for his sins. Recipient of eight Tony Awards, and of two subsequent revivals, it’s a timeless operetta about redemption and love.
Total Gross: $429,158,457.82
Total Attendance: 7,609,397
Yet another successful adaptation of a Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast is about a man cursed with the outer appearance of a beast, who must somehow make a young woman he’s imprisoned in his castle fall in love with him. Played in thirteen countries, it’s clear this musical is one any feels they can relate to.
Total Gross: $541,869,143.99
Total Attendance: 3,201,211
A slightly less relatable musical, The Book of Mormon is about two young Mormon missionaries whose first mission is in Africa. Unfortunately for them, AIDS, warlords, and general starvation prevent their would-be converts from expressing too much interest in the Mormon religion. A recipient of nine Tony Awards, nothing seems to be able to stop this parody from the success it deserves.
Total Gross: $558,416,067.20
Total Attendance: 5,150,298
Jersey Boys follows the rise and fall of the rock group The Four Seasons. The show received international acclaim, running for over 10 years on Broadway and spurring tours in many countries.
Total Gross: $611,071,347.95
Total Attendance: 8,706,407
Originally premiered in 1976, the 1996 Broadway revival of Chicago is running to this day. Performing significantly better than the original--which ran for just over 900 performances. Chicago received six Tony Awards and has run in a number of countries and cities.
Total Gross: $624,391,684.20
Total Attendance: 7,566,124
The only thing better than any of ABBA’s songs is a musical containing multiple ABBA songs. Not a huge award recipient, Mamma Mia! nevertheless took the world by storm. The story is about a young woman who wants her father to walk her down the aisle for her wedding--but first, she has to find him.
Total Gross: $1,145,223,419.65
Total Attendance: 18,155,941
Undoubtedly Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most well-known work, The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running show in Broadway history. About a disfigured man who haunts an opera house and falls in love with an ingenue in the cast of an opera, The Phantom of the Opera has been running for over 30 years on Broadway. In 1988, it won multiple awards, but it’s ability to stand the test of time is perhaps more telling than any award it could have been given.
Total Gross: $1,182,786,422.50
Total Attendance: 10,688,010
Everyone loves an underdog, and that’s exactly what the “Wicked Witch of the West” is in Wicked. One of the longest running shows on Broadway, Wicked has done multiple national tours and has been seen a minimum of four times by most musical theatre fans. One of three (the others being The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King) Broadway shows to gross over $1 billion during its run, Wicked receives consistently mixed reviews from critics yet nothing but positive responses from its fans.
Total Gross: $1,454,286,493.74
Total Attendance: 14,300,583
Keeping Elton John’s music and a musical score composed by Hans Zimmer, The Lion King is the highest-gross, and one of the longest-running shows on Broadway. The musical features giant, intricate puppets to represent safari animals, and was well-received by both critics and audiences in particular for its striking set and technical accomplishments.