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Top 10 Broadway Musicals

VO: Rebecca Brayton
When it comes to the songs, the dialogue, the acting and the dancing, these musical theatrical productions are a cut above the rest. They are also some of the most influential, award-winning, longest running and critically and commercially successful musicals in history. From "The Lion King," to "Chicago," to "Rent," join as we count down our picks for the top 10 Broadway musicals of all time.

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These are some of the most influential, award-winning, longest running and critically and commercially successful musical theatrical productions in history. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Broadway musicals of all time.

#10 – “Wicked”

Based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel, this musical tells the untold story of the witches of Oz. With friendship as its main theme, “Wicked” is a truly magical and emotional experience that will charm you whether or not you’re a fan of “The Wizard of Oz” film. And with its spectacular costumes, extravagant tunes and intricate effects, there’s no question why the Tony award-winning production continues to rack up box office records worldwide.

#9 – “The Producers”

Adapted from the 1968 Mel Brooks film, “The Producers” so successfully melded humor and music that it won a history-making twelve Tony Awards in 2001. With energetic performances and many laugh-out-loud moments, plus an original cast that included Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, it remains true to the spirit of classic Broadway shows with its clever musical numbers, perfectly timed choreography and attention-grabbing characters.

#8 – “Rent”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning “Rent” is considered a landmark musical due to its account of starving artists trying to remain positive while living with HIV/AIDS. Based on the Puccini opera “La Bohème,” the show changed musicals forever with its controversial themes, multiracial cast and discounted ticket options. Loved by critics and RENT-heads alike, the rock musical continues to move people years after its Broadway debut.

#7 – “Oklahoma!”

In spite of low expectations, no well-known stars and a lack of comedic gags, “Oklahoma!” was a hit when it opened in 1943. By expanding on the “book musical” format as seen in 1927’s “Show Boat,” Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical successfully combines a serious storyline with memorable songs and dance numbers, including the dream ballet technique. As such, “Oklahoma!” truly sets the mold for the musicals that came after it.

#6 – “A Chorus Line”

“A Chorus Line” proves that you don’t need flashy costumes and elaborate sets to captivate audiences and gain critics’ favors. Set on a bare stage, it reminds us not to let go of our dreams as we watch several Broadway dancers auditioning for a musical. With solid characters and beautifully choreographed dances, “A Chorus Line” is a true Broadway classic.

#5 – “Chicago”

Broadway certainly wouldn’t be the same without Bob Fosse’s show-stopping dance numbers and the catchy tunes of “Chicago.” Set in the mid-1920s, the musical follows two women mixed up in scandal who are in search of fame, wealth and all that jazz. Filled with stunning choreography and relentless female characters, the sensational show is also Broadway’s longest-running musical revival.

#4 – “The Lion King”

Based on the Oscar-winning Disney flick, “The Lion King” musical is a family-friendly spectacle that deftly blends universally appealing songs with colorful costumes and impressive puppetry. Along with its enduring story, the show’s audio and visual elements have made it the true ruler of the jungle since “The Lion King” is one of Broadway’s highest grossing productions ever.

#3 – “Cats”

Even with barely any spoken dialogue, “Cats,” is truly a purrrfect musical thanks to the moving songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber, which incorporate diverse genres like classical, pop, jazz and rock music. We can’t forget the vibrant feline costumes and complex dance numbers that are sure to make you overlook the fact that the set is just a junk yard. Add to this the distinct and unforgettable personalities of the Jellicle cats and there's little wonder this award-winning production is one of Broadway’s most popular shows.

#2 – “Les Misérables”

Despite poor critical reviews, “Les Misérables” opened to record breaking numbers in London in 1985, and eventually its story about love, bravery and salvation during the French Revolution became one of the longest running musicals on Broadway and around the world. Based on the Victor Hugo novel, Les Miz is a musical and theatrical masterpiece that keeps capturing audiences with its beleaguered characters and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s powerful score.

#1 – “The Phantom of the Opera”

It’s a timeless story of unrequited love set against veritable thrills and outstanding set design, and these are only some of the elements that make Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera” the most successful musical in history. Who can forget the production’s detailed costumes, poignant performances and, most of all, its haunting music? It’s with good reason that the Tony Award-winning “Phantom” marked its ten thousandth Broadway performance in 2012.

Do you agree with our list? Which is your favorite Broadway musical? Be sure to check out our Top 10 Movies based on Musicals and many more entertaining lists on!

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