When it comes to Broadway shows, there have been some major hits and a fair few misses as well. The magic of the theatre is ever-evolving and the impact that it has on society is undeniable. Over the past few decades, plenty of shows have come and gone, but there are a fair few classics that have stood their ground on Broadway. Through cast changes, standing ovations, and rave reviews, some shows have held their own for decades already. Let’s take a closer look at the longest-running Broadway shows of all time.
Wicked first debuted on Broadway on 30 October 2003 and is still running. L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been something of a cultural phenomenon since 1900 when the book was first printed. In 1939, MGM released the classic film version that to this day, remains a fan favorite all over the world.
In 1975, The Wiz premiered, which served as yet another retelling of the classic tale. However, it wasn’t until 1995 that Gregory Maguire put a new spin on the story and conceptualized Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. This version of the story saw Baum’s villain as a compelling and empowered heroine. The first showing happened at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre, where it remains to this day. Wicked has won countless awards so far, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Affectionately known as Les Mis, this one first opened on 12 March 1987. The original Broadway production closed on 18 May 2003, after an astounding 6680 performances. Les Mis was not well-received by critics when it premiered in London two years prior to its Broadway debut. However, audiences loved it and it continued to run on West End for three decades.
The story focused on Jean Valjean, an ex-convict who breaks parole to start a new life. He endures relentless hounding from Inspector Javert who is determined to put him back in prison. This story, coupled with subplots of war and romance, as well as plenty of spectacle, ensured that there was something for everyone in the audience.
The Phantom Of The Opera
No discussion of Broadway is complete without The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running production of all time. Phantom premiered on 26 January 1988, and in September 2022, announced that it will close after an incredible 13925 performances in February 2023.
Based on Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Richard Stilgoe, and Charles Hart created what is arguably the most iconic theatre score of all time. Prior to the global health crisis, securing a ticket to see this show was likened to finding a unicorn and it was far easier to hit the jackpot playing at a Canada casino online than finding a seat for the show. However, a spokesperson for the production said that it has never managed to fully bounce back to what it once was.
Fans of the show can still catch it on London’s West End, where it still opens to thousands of theatre fans every night. The original stars of the London production included Michael Crawford as the phantom, and award-winning songstress Sarah Brightman as Christine, the ingenue.