The Lion King

Best-reviewed Broadway shows in New York

Discover musicals and plays that have received rave reviews from New York Theatre Guide.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Ever wondered why "opening night" isn't the actual day a show's performances start? "Opening night" is simply another way of saying "the day the reviews come out."

Opening night happens anywhere from after a couple days to a couple of weeks of initial public performances, where elements of the show can be changed based on the audience response before the critics come in. Opening night is a celebration for a show's cast, creative team, and staff getting their hard work and artistry recognized.

Broadway show reviews are, collectively, a great way to discover different perspectives on a show and see if it's for you. You might have looked up top-reviewed Broadway shows when deciding on a musical or play to see for your latest trip to New York. So we've made it easy by collecting some of our best Broadway reviews in one place! Check out Broadway musicals and plays, as well as Off-Broadway hits, that have gotten rave reviews and are still running today. 

See the best Broadway shows in 2023 and beyond, and get tickets now to Broadway shows on New York Theatre Guide. Many of these shows have had yearslong Broadway runs — and having received such high praise, it's no wonder they've stuck around and become reliable audience favorites, too.

Best-reviewed Broadway shows

Discover some of the best Broadway shows playing right now, including recent Tony-nominated hits and long-running favorites. Plenty of audiences have loved these musicals, and with so many different genres represented among these top-reviewed musicals — from high-energy pop shows to more poignant, subdued dramas — you're bound to find the perfect show for you.

Get tickets to a Broadway show on New York Theatre Guide.

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The Who's Tommy

The pinball wizard is back! The first revival of The Who's Tommy — about a boy who loses his senses, finds cult-like local fame, and charts a path to healing — is on Broadway featuring hit songs from the same-named rock album like "See Me, Feel Me," "I'm Free," "Pinball Wizard," and "We're Not Gonna Take It."

"Rock musicals don’t come to Broadway often. It’s rare when they truly rock – and The Who's Tommy does," our critic raves.

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An Enemy of the People

With a stacked cast of talent including Succession's Jeremy Strong, The Sopranos's Michael Imperioli, and You's Victoria Pedretti, An Enemy of the People was bound to deliver, and it does. Even on its own, the 100-plus-year-old play continues to stand the test of time.

"This production of An Enemy of the People may be driven by star power, but its enduring message packs a punch for seasoned theatregoers and those new to [playwright Henrik] Ibsen’s works," our critic wrote. "And audiences will be talking about the bar on stage for years to come."

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Water for Elephants

Step right up! Water for Elephants brings the big top to Broadway, adapting Sara Gruen's circus-themed novel. When ex-vet student Jacob (Grant Gustin) runs away with the circus, he finds a new family, a new love, and a new lease on life. Audiences at the show will find stunning circus tricks, catchy folk-inspired music, and standout performances.

"Director Jessica Stone (Kimberly Akimbo) deserves a big shout-out for combining all of the elements – the actors, circus feats, puppetry, song and dance breaks – so beautifully," our critic writes. "Stone really can juggle."

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Sweeney Todd

"Stephen Sondheim’s sublime score sounds deliciously lush as played by the 26-piece orchestra, the singing is uniformly excellent, and Hugh Wheeler’s morbidly gripping story unfolds in crisp fashion," our critic wrote in a four-star Sweeney Todd Broadway review. This large-scale production revives the chilling story of a barber and baker's murder spree in Victorian London.

Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford thrill as the deadly duo. "Both leads deliver exactly what they’re best at... when he sings, Groban commands focus 100 percent," our critic wrote. "Ashford is a very fine singer, but her comic chops set her apart."

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Kimberly Akimbo

After receiving critical acclaim for its Off-Broadway premiere in 2021, the Kimberly Akimbo musical, based on David Lindsay-Abaire's same-named play, transferred to Broadway this fall. Tony winner Victoria Clark will again star in this comedy-drama as a teenager affected with an aging disease, which is but one of her problems.

Our critic wrote in a five-star review of Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway, "Kimberly Akimbo is now in residence at the Booth Theatre with the original cast and every bit of its wondrous quirkiness intact. In fact, the show is more polished and endearing than before...tiny details add up to make Kimberly Akimbo letter-perfect."

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& Juliet

This larger-than-life musical gives new life to a classic tragedy. The heroine of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet doesn't die, but goes off on a trip to Paris to find new friends, love, and herself. Our four-star & Juliet Broadway review reads, "The action unfolds in Shakespeare’s era, but its heart and head are all about today...bursting with chart-toppers made famous by Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Backstreet Boys, and other pop stars."

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Racking up eight 2022 Tony nominations including Best Musical, Six is "pure musical theatre elation for a pop-packed 75 minutes." The show sees the six wives of Henry VIII recount their lives and mistreatment by Henry in high-energy pop girl group style, and our five-star Six Broadway review reads, "You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll dance. It's everything a theatre experience should be and more."

Six came to Broadway from London's West End and tours around the U.K. and U.S. "The Broadway production is bigger, bolder, and beltier than any Six I've seen yet," our critic wrote. "From new riffs to surprise costume reveals, every element has been leveled up for New York, leaving no stone unturned." 

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MJ The Musical

MJ The Musical

Our critic described MJ The Musical as a "flawless" depiction of Michael Jackson's life, legacy, and performance style. The show sees Jackson rehearsing for his 1992 Dangerous World Tour, and each hit in his set list takes him back to a formative memory from his childhood and then-up-and-coming career. Our five-star MJ The Musical review reads, "Under the exemplary direction and choreography of Christopher Wheeldon, the production gives context to Jackson's inherited demons and zooms in on his daunting creative process and peerless genius. MJ is the platinum standard the often-uninspired, generic jukebox musical could benefit to emulate."

MJ The Musical is nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2022, including Best Musical and Best Book for Lynn Nottage. Nottage made history in early 2022 by having a musical, a play (Best Play nominee Clyde's), and an opera (Intimate Apparel) all running in New York at once. Intimate Apparel also received a five-star review on New York Theatre Guide.

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Wicked is one of Broadway's most popular shows, and for good reason. This fantastical tale tells the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch of The Wizard of Oz used to be best friends, but there are also deeper messages about love, sacrifice, and corruption. "More than 8.8 million people have found the heart, nerve and wisdom to pay a visit, resulting in the happy scene of a Broadway house filled with as many teens as adults, and making a tale, born from a 115-year-old children's novel, one of the top five highest grossing shows of all time," our critic wrote in a five-star Wicked review in 2015, commemorating the show's 12th year on Broadway.

For musical theatre buffs, there are plenty of Easter eggs to be found in the score, penned by the same composer as hit musicals like Pippin and Godspell. "Stephen Schwartz's classic score provides a wonderful playground for the cast to swing upon, while reminding us of this composer's important history. Close your eyes and hear strains of Pippin in 'As Long as You're Mine.' Find the hint of Godspell playfulness in the staccato beats of 'What is this Feeling.'"

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Chicago is "a living, breathing piece of musical theatre history," our critic wrote in a five-star review for the musical's 20th anniversary in 2016. Now celebrating 25 years on Broadway, the show continues to draw audiences in with a thrilling story of crime and jazz, centered on two murderesses competing for media attention in the hopes of getting acquitted.

"Chicago proves that you don't need to bombard your audience with a number of lavish sets or elaborate costume changes to put together a winning musical. All you need is a live band on stage, intoxicating the auditorium with that jazz-infused score from the genius that is John Kander and Fred Ebb and sprinkle it with that Bob Fosse-style choreography, and before you know it, you've razzle dazzled 'em!"

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The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon follows a pair of Mormon elders on mission to a Ugandan village, where converting the locals proves to be a difficult task that requires a lot of faith and perseverance. The show has been making Broadway audiences laugh since 2011, but be warned: Having been penned by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q, the comedy is irreverent and pokes fun at everyone, so you have to be able to take a joke while laughing at them.

Our five-star Book of Mormon review reads, "Ain't no one or nothing safe in The Book of Mormon, least of all the audience. This show makes you realize that when you are pointing one finger to make fun of someone, there are three fingers pointed back at you. And this news is delivered with a smile - a real one. [Creators Trey] Parker, [Robert] Lopez, and [Matt] Stone have a laser beam precision."

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The Lion King

The Lion King

The Lion King was a groundbreaking musical upon its 1997 premiere, bringing the world of the Disney movie to life with intricate, life-size puppetry never seen on stage. Twenty-five years later, audiences of all ages join the circle of life and watch the story of Simba, a young lion cub who grows into a strong leader and takes his place as king of the Pride Lands.

To celebrate the show's 20th anniversary in 2017, former The Lion King performer wrote a testament to why the musical is still the pride of Broadway. "The Lion King is still a timeless piece of artistry and magical allure. The moment you hear Rafiki's clarion call across the pridelands welcoming the new prince to the kingdom, you are lost in the story, as the iconic procession of animals begins."

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This eight time Tony-winning Best Musical has been bringing audiences way down to Hadestown since 2019. This show retells the classic Greek myths of the lovers Orpheus and Eurydice, and Hades and Persephone, with a stirring folk and jazz score. But don't worry if you didn't pay attention during your mythology lesson in high school, our critic notes in a four-star Hadestown review: "Going to hell has never been as much fun as seeing a performance of Anaïs Mitchell's musical Hadestown, now playing at the Walter Kerr Theatre. And don't let its origins in Greek mythology scare you off because there's a built-in narrator in the form of the god Hermes."

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

As the stage sequel to J. K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter book series, Cursed Child is naturally a story of witches, wizards, and magical adventures. But "ultimately this is a tale of family," our critic wrote in a five-star Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review. The respective sons of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, Albus and Scorpius, discover a found family in each other when bullied at school, and their friendship soon takes them on a time-traveling journey to right the wrongs of the Wizarding World. But the play is about biological families, too, as Harry and Albus especially learn how to connect with each other.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was written and reviewed as a two-part show, but the play has since been condensed into one part. All the magic, though, remains intact. Said our critic, "These are not the fancy schmancy special effects, but they are spectacular. They are simplicity itself, made of puppetry magic and lighting that tells us exactly where to look... The shadows are teaming with unseen life that are eager to reach out and touch someone - could even be you if you are in the right seat. The ensemble's choreographed movements, clean, simple and unrelenting, give the entire production a physical urgency."

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You've got to be in the room where it happens. It's clear by now that Hamilton is not to be missed, with near-universal critical acclaim and tons of awards including 11 Tonys and a Pulitzer. If you haven't yet heard about the musical that turned the world upside down, Lin-Manuel Miranda's show tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton with a diverse cast and a hip-hop/rap score. History has never been so lively, and the show gives a glimpse into the rocky frenemy-ship between Hamilton and Aaron Burr leading up to their final duel, which is often the only thing people learn about them.

Our five-star Hamilton Broadway review sums it up: "Hamilton is a magnificent tapestry where all the elements of theatre are called upon to be their very best... The end result is something much more than the story of one man. It is the story of how we each create our destiny and our mark on the world."

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The story of a street urchin who, with the help of a genie in a magic lamp, transforms into a prince to win over a princess (who loves him even as an urchin, but is bound by royal tradition) has won over children's and adults' hearts since the 1992 film. And the Aladdin musical is Disney magic come to life, translating all the vibrant color and energy of the animated film and then some to the stage. Our four-star Aladdin Broadway review notes, "The costumes and sets are wonderfully bright and make the production the most vibrantly colourful of all Disney Theatrical's offerings to date. Hats off to the ensemble members who undergo several quick (and magnificent) costume changes during the procession within the single musical number of 'Prince Ali'!"

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Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

In Baz Luhrmann's film, the can-can act at the Moulin Rouge nightclub is called the "spectacular spectacular," and Moulin Rouge! The Musical lives up to that name. Colorful costumes, sets, and lighting, explosive choreography, and plenty of overall energy is the name of the game at this show, though all the flash underscores a heartbreaking love story between the writer Christian and the showgirl Satine.

Over and above Moulin Rouge! The Musical's visual pleasures is a score of diverse popular music, making it unlike any other jukebox musical on Broadway. Reads the five-star review, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical is in a league of originality and creativity all of its own; with a song stack of some 70 pop hits from the 40s to the present day, it is the ultimate jukebox show, encompassing Elton John, Sting and Katy Perry, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and even Rodgers and Hammerstein, amongst numerous others."

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Peter Morgan, the Emmy Award-winning creator of The Crown, won a Critics’ Circle Award and widespread acclaim for his latest stage venture: a drama about the power struggle between Vladimir Putin and Boris Berezovsky, Putin's greatest supporter-turned-most outspoken critic.

The show had two successful runs in London ahead of its 2024 Broadway transfer. A four-star review of the first run on London Theatre calls the show "monstrously entertaining" and an "epic biographical play... Morgan has inarguably produced a work that speaks to the moment."

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Best reviewed Off-Broadway shows

Not all great theatre is on Broadway. Tons of fantastic shows get their start in small Off-Broadway spaces, and whether they stay there or eventually transfer to Broadway, they're worth seeing. Check out these best reviewed Off-Broadway shows you can see right now, and by acclaimed writers with other works off Broadway.

Get tickets to an Off-Broadway show on New York Theatre Guide.

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All aboard the Ship of Dreams! This unexpected Off-Broadway hit made waves in summer 2022 with a campy, pop-culture-infused, revisionist tale of Titanic's Jack and Rose, as told by Celine Dion and set to all the singer's biggest hits. An enthusiastic fanbase has kept Titanique afloat for months longer than planned, with the show extending more than once.

New York Theatre Guide's four-star Titanique review reads, "Titanique is one of those shows where anything can happen, so it does, up until the final twists that you surely won't see coming... The cast and creators' enthusiasm is infectious, and if you just let it wash over you, you'll have a boatload of fun."

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Shaina Taub's musical Suffs, about the women's suffrage movement and the conflicts between the women that led it, will come to Broadway following a sold-out, critically acclaimed premiere at The Public Theater. In a four-star review of Suffs off Broadway, our critic notes how important it is to have stories created and performed by women on the stage: "In entertainment, there is the assumption that women's stories are small, while men's stories are universal. Just as the suffragists broke down the doors of the patriarchy, Suffs breaks down the doors of musical theatre, showing that a cast and creative team of mostly women can tell a story that is important, powerful, and about all of us. With Taub leading it, the future of musical theatre is female, and it's about time."

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Hell's Kitchen

Alicia Keys is the latest artist to lend her catalog to a new musical. Inspired loosely by her own upbringing in the title Manhattan neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen tells the story of a teenage girl coming of age, learning hard truths about the world, and finding her passion for music. After its Off-Broadway premiere, Hell's Kitchen comes to Broadway in March 2024.

"As portrayed in Hell's Kitchen, under Michael Greif's direction, Keys's home neighborhood is a living, pulsing, vibrant soundscape," our four-star Hell's Kitchen review reads. "Keys's music, including three excellent new tunes alongside her many existing hits, soars on stage, especially thanks to a cast of ace vocalists."

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