The top 20 longest-running Broadway shows
As Frank Sinatra sings, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. While you probably know the classic musicals by heart, many Broadway shows don’t make it. In fact, only a third of the shows produced on Broadway (about 40 new ones a year) actually turn a profit. These facts make it all the most impressive that some shows have lasted an astounding 30 years and counting!
Many of the titles on the list of the longest-running Broadway shows below might be familiar from Times Square billboards, your parents’ tape deck, or your own collection of original cast recordings. Here are some fun facts and history behind the 20 longest-running Broadway shows of all time.
This article was last updated with current performance counts on July 14, 2022.
20. Hello, Dolly!
2,844 performances (January 16 1964 - December 27, 1970)
While Bette Midler might hold the title for longest entrance applause (just guessing) in the 2016 Hello, Dolly! revival, the original production of the Jerry Herman musical about a New York City matchmaker looking for a match of her own ran for almost seven years and won 10 Tony Awards. YouTube has a multitude of videos of the original star Carol Channing performing in the show.
19. Tobacco Road
3,182 performances (December 4, 1933 - May 31, 1941)
This show is lesser known today, but in the 1930s, producers had a lot of faith in the power of this story from the novel by Erskine Caldwell about a family a sharecroppers who fall on hard times. There were three revivals in the decade following the original production, and none of them fared as well as the first. The 1942 revival ran for 34 performances. The 1943 revival ran for 66 performances. The 1950 revival ran for 7 performances.
18. Life With Father
3,224 performances (November 8, 1939 - July 12, 1947)
Life With Father holds the record of Broadway’s longest-running play? Based on Clarence Day’s humorous, autobiographical book, the play was later adapted into a film of the same name. Despite its success, it has yet to receive a Broadway revival, though the show received a limited-run revival at New York City Center in 1967.
17. Fiddler on the Roof
3,242 performances (September 22, 1964 - July 2, 1972)
The Bock and Harnick show might be 17 on this list, but it’s one of the most produced shows in high schools across the country. (Are you a Chava, Hodel, or Tzeitel?) The original production earned nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and has spawned five revivals. After all, it’s tradition.
3,388 performances (February 14, 1972 - April 13, 1980)
Most people are most familiar with the Olivia Newton John and John Travolta movie, but the original production struck Broadway like greased lightning. It ran for eight years and has since birthed endless karaoke renditions of “Summer Nights.”
15. 42nd Street
3,486 performances (August 25, 1980 - January 8, 1989)
It’s the avenue we’re taking you to! Named for the iconic Times Square thoroughfare in the heart of the Theatre District, this tuner about a chorus girl who gets her chance at the big time has spawned a thousand time steps. The original production won two Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
14. The Book of Mormon
4,031 performances and counting (March 24, 2011 - present)
This runaway hit has been climbing the ranks for nearly a decade and counting. Penned by the creators of South Park and EGOT winner Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon follows two mismatched Mormon missionaries on a troubled mission to Uganda. The musical won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. We definitely believe in the power of this show.
13. Miss Saigon
4,092 performances (April 11, 1991 - January 28, 2001)
Inspired by Madame Butterfly, this Schönberg and Boublil (the writers of the Les Misérables musical) show launched the career of a young Lea Salonga. Salonga played Kim, a young woman in Vietnam who falls in love with an American soldier. The heat was on in Saigon for a decade, and the show won three Tony Awards.
12. Jersey Boys
4,642 performances (November 6, 2005 - January 15, 2017)
The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons brought Broadway to its feet for 12 years, and proved there a lot of actors out there can sing like the singular Valli. Jersey Boys proved that there’s an audience appetite for jukebox musicals and classic hit songs on stage, winning four Tony Awards including Best Musical. Mere months after wrapping its Broadway run in 2017, Jersey Boys reopened off Broadway and ran at New World Stages for another 4.5 years.
5,123 performances (April 29, 1996 - September 7, 2008)
The Off-Broadway premiere of Rent was marked by tragedy after composer Jonathan Larson’s sudden death the day of the first preview. But on a positive side, the show was an instant success and cemented Larson as one of the musical theatre greats. The Broadway production launched a movement of Rent-heads and countless renditions of “Seasons of Love” at high school graduations. The musical won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
10. Beauty and the Beast
5,461 performances (April 18, 1994 - July 29, 2007)
It's a tale as old as time: Disney Theatrical brings one of its landmark movies to the stage, and the audiences go wild. This touching tale about chosen families and how love goes beyond appearances stayed on Broadway for 13 years.
9. Mamma Mia!
5,758 performances (October 18, 2001 - September 12, 2015)
Mamma Mia! is another testament to the power of the jukebox show. This ABBA-scored favorite holds the title of the longest-running jukebox musical. Broadway audiences said "thank you for the music" for nearly 14 years, but now with two films in the franchise, we’re ready to say "here we go again" and see a revival.
8. Oh! Calcutta!
5,959 performances (September 24, 1976 - August 6, 1989)
This musical revue, which was originally produced off Broadway in 1969, featured sketches about sex and some nudity. This production was the revival, and with a 14-year run, it was the longest-running Broadway revival for years before Chicago overtook it. It remains, though, the longest-running revue in Broadway history and the first show whose premiere and revival both ran for 1,000 performances.
7. A Chorus Line
6,137 performances (July 25, 1975 - April 28, 1990)
Director/choreographer Michael Bennett became a trailblazer with this seminal work. He had real dancers share their stories and crafted them into a beautiful musical about what we all do for love. The original production won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
6. Les Misérables
6,680 performances (March 12, 1987 - May 18, 2003)
"Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of ticket sales?" That’s not how the song goes, but it should, considering the run the original production of this musical had on Broadway. The French epic, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
7,170 performances and counting (October 30, 2003 - present)
While it lost the Tony Award for Best Musical to Avenue Q and received mixed reviews from the critics, Wicked has solidified its place in the Broadway record books. The stories about how the witches of Oz became wicked and good has captured the hearts of audiences of all ages and backgrounds, especially women striving to be seen beyond their looks.
7,485 performances (October 7, 1982 - September 10, 2000)
Who knew that a musical about felines could be such a worldwide phenomenon? Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, that’s who. Based on T.S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the musical captured the hearts of cat lovers everywhere and won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Get into it, jellicle cats.
3. The Lion King
9,634 performances and counting (November 13, 1997 - present)
This might be third on this list, but it does hold the record as the highest-grossing Broadway show in history thanks to plenty of international productions and tours. The Lion King has been staged around the world, but it has been going strong at its home base at the Minskoff Theatre for more than 20 years, with six Tony Awards including Best Musical to its name. Simba might become the king of Pride Rock, but The Lion King is the ruler of Broadway.
10,018 performances and counting (November 14, 1996 - present)
Chicago has certainly painted the town since this revival of the Kander and Ebb musical opened in 1996. It celebrated its 25th Broadway anniversary in 2021. The production, which has become a destination for big stars to make their Broadway debuts, won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. In this show about vaudeville performers-turned-criminals, murder never looked so entertaining.
1. The Phantom of the Opera
13,661 performances and counting (January 26, 1988 - present)
The music of the night has been playing on Broadway for more than 30 years and counting, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit about a young chorus girl who falls in with the Paris Opera’s mysterious Phantom is a love story for the ages. The Phantom of the Opera won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Angels of music are certain to be singing for years to come.