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Longest-running Broadway shows

  • Longest-running Broadway shows

    Whether you're thinking of da Vinci's iconic “Mona Lisa,” a Bach violin concerto, or a Broadway play, the mark of art that really impacts society is how long it remains relevant. If someone can remove the crucial context of time and place and the piece still has the power to move an audience, it is truly significant. Though crinolines and corsets are no longer in fashion, people still flock to museums dedicated to Victorian art and buy tickets to “La Traviata” at their local opera house. The same applies to Broadway shows: Some of the most compelling plays and musicals aren't modern but rather classics that have been beloved by generations of audiences.

    Ahead of the 2019 Tony Awards on June 9, Stacker compiled a list of the longest-running Broadway shows to find out which have had some of the greatest impacts on the theater. Using data pulled from the Internet Broadway Database in May 2019, Stacker ranked 25 of the longest-running Broadway shows by the number of performances. All musicals and plays that have opened on Broadway from 1920 to today were considered. In fact, several of the shows included in this list are actually still playing on Broadway. Revivals of plays or musicals that previously premiered on Broadway are also carefully noted.

    Though the Tony Awards and other industry honors are one way to quantify a show's success, ticket sales and the length of run probably provide a more accurate measure. Whether these Broadway shows have received critical acclaim, they've certainly won over audiences enough to extend their runs for five, 10, or 20 years. Read on to find out which 1933 drama made the list, which musical featuring puppets cracked the top 10, and which 1988 musical tops the list with over 13,000 performances. Encore!

    You may also like: Tony Award for Best Musical winner from the year you were born

  • #25. Kinky Boots

    - Genre: Musical
    - Performance count: 2,505
    - Opening date: April 4, 2013
    - Closing date: April 7, 2019

    An unlikely pair of business partners—the owner of a shoe factory and a drag queen—team up to save the family business in this heartwarming musical with lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. “Kinky Boots” won six Tony Awards in 2013, including the coveted Best Musical category.

  • #24. Avenue Q

    - Genre: Musical, Comedy, Puppets
    - Performance count: 2,534
    - Opening date: July 31, 2003
    - Closing date: Sept. 13, 2009

    Though puppets are the stars of "Avenue Q," this musical comedy is definitely not for kids. The story of a college grad who moves to New York City and meets some wacky neighbors won the Tony for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book in 2004. It's no longer playing on Broadway, but you can still catch it at the New World Stages through the end of May.

  • #23. Mary Poppins

    - Genre: Musical
    - Performance count: 2,619
    - Opening date: Nov. 16, 2006
    - Closing date: March 3, 2013

    This production is for those who loved the classic film starring Julie Andrews as a magical nanny who appears on the Banks' family's doorstep. It was nominated for several categories in 2007 but only won Best Scenic Design of a Musical.

  • #22. Hairspray

    - Genre: Musical, Comedy
    - Performance count: 2,642
    - Opening date: Aug. 15, 2002
    - Closing date: Jan. 4, 2009

    Good morning, Baltimore! This musical based on John Waters' 1988 film of the same name follows Tracy Turnblad, a big-haired and big-hearted teenager who dreams of dancing on a local TV program. After her wish comes true, she takes on a new challenge: fighting for integration.

  • #21. My Fair Lady

    - Genre: Musical, Comedy, Romantic Comedy
    - Performance count: 2,717
    - Opening date: March 15, 1956
    - Closing date: Sept. 29, 1962

    Although a revival of “My Fair Lady” is running at Lincoln Center Theater, the original production first debuted on Broadway in 1956. Based on the play “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw, the musical's original run was so successful that it was eventually turned into a film starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle.

  • #20. Hello, Dolly!

    - Genre: Musical, Comedy
    - Performance count: 2,844
    - Opening date: Jan. 16, 1964
    - Closing date: Dec. 27, 1970

    Another Best Musical winner, “Hello, Dolly!” debuted on Broadway in 1964 with Carol Channing in the lead role of Dolly Levi. Channing also won the Tony Award for Best Actress for her role.

  • #19. Tobacco Road

    - Genre: Play, Drama
    - Performance count: 3,182
    - Opening date: Dec. 4, 1933
    - Closing date: May 31, 1941

    Adapted from Erskine Caldwell's novel of the same name, “Tobacco Road” tells the unvarnished story of living in abject poverty in rural Georgia. The dark subject didn't stop people from seeing the play, however—it ran for eight years on Broadway.

  • #18. Life With Father

    - Genre: Play, Comedy
    - Performance count: 3,224
    - Opening date: Nov. 8, 1939
    - Closing date: July 12, 1947

    Set in a New York City family home in the late 1800s, “Life With Father” chronicles the family dynamics between Father (a bigoted stockbroker), the Mother (his religious wife), and their four children. When Father reveals he was never baptized, the family descends into an uproar.

  • #17. Fiddler on the Roof

    - Genre: Musical, Comedy, Drama
    - Performance count: 3,242
    - Opening date: Sept. 22, 1964
    - Closing date: July 2, 1972

    This musical begins in Anatevka, a small Russian village that's home to a community of Russian Jews. Songs like “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and “Sunrise, Sunset” tell the story of Tevye and his family trying to preserve their cultural and religious traditions even with the Russian Revolution on the horizon.

  • #16. Grease

    - Genre: Musical, Comedy
    - Performance count: 3,388
    - Opening date: Feb. 14, 1972
    - Closing date: April 13, 1980

    Greased lightnin', go greased lightnin'! When “Grease” first debuted on Broadway in 1972, the musical comedy about Sandy's introduction to Rydell High social life delighted audiences. Though it didn't win any Tony Awards, it was so popular that it was later made into a film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

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