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Top 5 Longest Running Broadway Musicals

Nov 27th 2015 at 11:57 AM

Ever since theaters became instrumental on Broadway, thousands of shows have appeared over the years. Some have come and gone rather rapidly, fading into obscurity, where others have persisted.

But then, there are those that break all the records. Special shows that obtain nothing short of legendary status, whereby audiences flock in their thousands to see them, year on year.

Here, we assess the top five Broadway productions in terms of how many performances were staged.



1. The Phantom of the Opera (11,556 performances to date)

The longest-running Broadway show, together with music production by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the highly acclaimed British composer, The Phantom of the Opera is taken from a French novel about an alluringly beautiful singer who captivates the heart – to the point of obsession - of a disfigured musical genius.

Originally, the show opened in 1986 in London’s West End, then moved to Broadway in 1988 where it still runs to this day.


2. Chicago (7,880 performances to date)

The musical, Chicago, is set in Chicago’s Prohibition era in the 1920s. It’s based on a play which was produced in 1926 about the satirizing of a celebrity criminal.

The original Broadway version ran from 1975 to 1977, and it was revived again in 1996. Chicago has the accolade of being the longest-running North American musical on Broadway (Phantom of the Opera is from England, U.K.).


3. The Lion King (7,491 performances to date)

The Lion King, which is based on the hit Disney movie of the same name, follows the coming-of-age tale of a lion called Simba.

It’s the highest grossing Broadway production of all time. The show opened to the public in 1997 and is still going.


4. Cats (7,485 performances)

For some time, Cats represented the longest-running show in the history of Broadway. A further masterpiece from Andrew Lloyd Weber, Cats is based on a tribe of cats from a book by T.S. Elliot, the famous English novelist.


5. Les Misérables (6,680 performances)

Les Misérables is based on a book written by famed French novelist, Victor Hugo. The story is based on a peasant - Jean Valjean – and his survival as the country spirals toward revolution.

The Broadway show ran from 1987 to 2003, then had a revival from 2006-2008. Currently, the show is undergoing a further revival.


James Barbour, has been cast in eight different Broadway musicals including Cyrano: The Musical, Carousel, Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre, Urinetown, A Tale of Two Cities, and currently, The Phantom of the Opera. You can listen to the music of James Barbour on iTunes.

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