Here are some of the longest-running and most popular shows on Broadway, listed alphabetically, with brief descriptions that include my take, and links where available to my initial reviews.
To buy tickets to these shows, check out their websites, go to their box offices, or purchase on this page.
The Book of Mormon
The Eugene O’Neill Theater
Opened: March 24, 2011
Director: Jason Moore and Trey Parker
Twitter feed: @BookofMormonBWY
This musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (book), the creators of South Park, and Robert Lopez, one of the composer-lyricists for “Avenue Q” (music and lyrics) and Frozen (both movie and musical), is about both the founder of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and modern disciples. It is outrageous, irreverent in one way, but also deeply reverent to (even while parodying) the best traditions of the Broadway musical.
Ambassador Theater (219 West 49th Street)
Opened: November 14, 1996
A chorus girl in 1920′s Chicago murders her lover and becomes a star. This cynical, tuneful 1975 musical adaptation by John Kander and Fred Ebb (“Cabaret” team) of a 1926 play was revived to great acclaim by director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Ann Reinking in homage to original choreographer Bob Fosse. But it has gone through many, many cast changes since then. Some say this is the production that invented the modern Broadway practice of “stunt casting.”
Beginning in November, 2014, it became the second-longest running musical on Broadway.
Richard Rodgers Theater
Opened: August 6, 2015
The story of the first Secretary of the Treasury, told as a rap opera, is groundbreaking and breathtaking. It has become a phenomenon on Broadway — and elsewhere! I’ve seen it four times, and have written about it so many times that I’ve put together a post called Everything Hamilton
Opened: April 4, 2013
Cyndi Lauper’s Broadway songwriting debut, and the winner of the 2013 Best Musical Tony, adapts a 2005 British film about a traditional shoemaker who partners with a drag queen to make footwear sturdy enough for a man but fabulous enough for a woman. The show is familiar and safe, with a stand-out performance by Billy Porter as Lola/Simon.
Minskoff Theater (200 West 45th Street)
Opened: November 13, 1997
Based on the 1994 Disney animated film about the coming-of-age of a young lion in the African jungle, this musical offers African-inflected music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice and the visual magic of Julie Taymor. Taymor is the director, and composer and lyricist for some of the songs. But above all, she is the designer of the costumes, masks, and puppets — and it is these visuals that make this show a good first theatrical experience — and worthwhile for any theatergoer no matter how experienced.
Majestic Theater (247 West 44th Street)
Opened: January 26, 1988
The Phantom of the Opera, based on a 1911 French novel by Gaston Leroux, is about a disfigured genius named Erik who lives in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House and falls in love with Christine, an aspiring singer whom he helps…until an old flame of Christine’s named Raoul steps back into the picture.
However, the story in the musical, written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber — with more than its share of 1980′s heavy power ballads — is starting to take second place to the story of the musical, which is the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, and probably the most profitable.
Webber has written a “sequel,” entitled “Love Never Dies,” which was set for Broadway in the 2010-2011 season, but, after scathing reviews in London, may never appear there. It is, however, on national tour.
Gershwin Theater (222 West 51st Street)
Opened: October 30, 2003
The musical tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” from the witches’ perspective, more specifically from the Wicked Witch of the West, who was not, as a child, wicked at all, but just green-tinted, taunted, and misunderstood. There is so much to like about this musical, the clever twists on the familiar tale, the spectacular set, and music that is a lot more appealing in context (such as the song “Defying Gravity”) that I will forgive the contortions necessary to tack on a happy ending.