List of Broadway shows that have held the title of longest-running show

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This is a list of shows that have held the title of being the longest running show (including straight plays and musicals) on Broadway since 1853. A few probable longest-running plays prior to 1853 are also listed.

Currently, the longest running play of all time on Broadway is The Phantom of the Opera; it obtained that status on January 9, 2006.

Not included below is the 1976 revival of the revue Oh! Calcutta!, which briefly overtook A Chorus Line as the Broadway show which had played the most performances, even though A Chorus Line had opened more than a year earlier and was still playing. Oh! Calcutta! achieved this distinction by playing more than the standard eight performances per week.[1] A Chorus Line retook the record for most performances after Oh! Calcutta! closed.

M denotes a musical and P denotes a straight play.

Took lead Title Type Opening
date
Closing
date
Performances Comments/Notes
2006-01-09January 9, 2006[2] The Phantom of the Opera M 1988-01-26January 26, 1988 12,206[3] Currently running at the Majestic Theatre
7 Tony Awards in 1988, including Best Musical
7 Drama Desk Awards in 1988
Broadway's longest-running show and musical
1997-06-19June 19, 1997[4] Cats M 1982-10-07October 7, 1982 2000-09-09September 10, 2000 7,485[5] 7 Tony Awards in 1983, including Best Musical
3 Drama Desk Awards in 1983
Grammy Award for Best Cast Show Album in 1984
1983-09-29September 29, 1983[6] A Chorus Line M 1975-07-25July 25, 1975 1990-04-28April 28, 1990 6,137[7] 9 Tony Awards in 1976, including Best Musical
5 Drama Desk Awards in 1976, including Outstanding Musical
A Special Tony Award in 1984 for becoming Broadway's longest-running musical
Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976
Revival in 2006 (759 performances)
1979-12-08December 8, 1979[8] Grease M 1972-02-14February 14, 1972 1980-04-13April 13, 1980 3,388[9] 2 Drama Desk Awards in 1972
Revivals in 1994 (1,505 performances) and 2007 (554 performances)
1972-06-17June 17, 1972[10] Fiddler on the Roof M 1964-09-22September 22, 1964 1972-07-02July 2, 1972 3,242[11] Became longest running musical in July 1971, at 2,845 performances passing 2,844 mark of Hello Dolly!.[12]

9 Tony Awards in 1965, including Best Musical
A Special Tony Award in 1972 for becoming Broadway's longest-running musical
Revivals in 1976 (167 performances), 1981 (53 performances), 1990, (241 performances), 2004 (781 performances), and 2015 (431 performances)

1947-06-14June 14, 1947[13] Life with Father P 1939-11-08November 8, 1939 1947-07-12July 12, 1947 3,224[14] Broadway's longest-running straight play. Started at Empire Theatre, moved to the Bijou Theatre in 1945, and finished up its run in 1947 at the Alvin Theatre.
1939-06-01June 1939[15] Tobacco Road P 1933-12-04December 4, 1933 1941-05-31May 31, 1941 3,182[16] Revivals in 1942 (34 performances), 1943 (66 performances), and 1950 (7 performances)
1925-05-23May 23, 1925[17] Abie's Irish Rose P 1923-05-23May 23, 1923 1927-10-1October 1, 1927 2,327[18] Revivals in 1937 (46 performances) and 1954 (20 performances)
1920-03-17March 17, 1920[19][20][21] Lightnin' P 1918-08-26August 26, 1918 1921-08-27August 27, 1921 1,291[22] Revival in 1938 (54 performances)
1893-06-22June 22, 1893[23] A Trip to Chinatown M 1891-11-09November 9, 1891 1893-08-07August 7, 1893 657[24]
1885-12-01December 1885[25] Adonis M 1884-09-04September 4, 1884 1886-04-17April 17, 1886 603[26]
1881-05-01May 1881 Hazel Kirke P 1880-02-04February 4, 1880 1881-05-31May 31, 1881 486[27][28] 250th performance programme claimed play had exceeded number of consecutive performances of any "similar play" in the country on its 238th performance,[29] which is no doubt a reference to Pique (1875) which ran for 237 performances.[30]
1867-08-05August 5, 1867[31] The Black Crook M 1866-09-12September 12, 1866 1868-01-04January 4, 1868 474[32] First Broadway show to run for over one year.[33] In terms of a "musical", The Seven Sisters (1860–61, 253 perf.), was probably the longest running show closest to a "musical" prior to this.
1853-10-011853[34] Uncle Tom's Cabin (Aiken version) P 1853-08-23August 8, 1853 1854-05-13May 13, 1854 325[35] Has generally been classified as a play, though some arguments have been made that it was a musical. Played at the National Theatre.[36][37][38]
1850-01-011850 The Drunkard P 1850-01-011850 1850-10-07October 7, 1850? 100[39] As of October 7, 1850, it hit 100 consecutive performances in New York, the first play to do so.[40] At Barnum's American Museum. It first debuted in 1844 outside New York at the Boston Museum.
1844-09-24September 24, 1844 Putnam, the Iron Son of '76 P 1844-08-05August 5, 1844 1844-11-02November 2, 1844 78[41][42] At the Bowery Theatre. If Mazeppa ran 43 nights in 1833 and was previous record, Putnam became most performed on its 44th performance on September 24, 1844.
1833-08-091833 Mazeppa, Or, The Wild Horse of Ukraine P 1833-06-22July 22, 1833 1833-09-09September 9, 1833 43[43] At the Bowery Theatre with George Gale as Mazeppa.[44][45][46]
1831-01-281831 The Elephant of Siam and the Fire Fiend by Samuel Beazley P 1831-01-10January 10, 1831 1831? 18[46] At the Bowery Theatre, the first season under Thomas S. Hamblin, who embraced melodramas which might support longer runs. The Elephant of Siam featured the elephant Mademoiselle D'Jeck, who of course needed to be used while available. The Water Witch, an adaption of a James Fenimore Cooper novel by Charles W. Taylor, which debuted on March 10, 1831 at the Bowery, also played for 18 performances.[46]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rich, Frank (1989-08-08). "Critic's Notebook; The Asterisks of 'Oh! Calcutta!'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-12-19. 
  2. ^ (6 January 2006). ‘Phantom’ set to outlive ‘Cats’, Associated Press
  3. ^ The Phantom of the Opera at the Internet Broadway Database
  4. ^ (19 June 1997). With 6,138 Lives, 'Cats' Sets Broadway Mark, The New York Times
  5. ^ Cats at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ rothstein, Mervyn (30 April 1990). After 15 Years (15!), 'A Chorus Line' Ends, The New York Times
  7. ^ A Chorus Line at the Internet Broadway Database
  8. ^ (8 December 1979). 'Grease' hits top of Broadway list, Associated Press
  9. ^ Grease at the Internet Broadway Database
  10. ^ (19 June 1972). Fiddler on the Roof longest running show, Ottawa Citizen (Associated Press)
  11. ^ Fiddler on the Roof at the Internet Broadway Database
  12. ^ (21 July 1971). 'Fiddler on the Roof' longest run musical on Broadway, Associated Press
  13. ^ (13 June 1947). 'Life With Father' - A Broadway Record, The Milwaukee Journal
  14. ^ Life with Father at the Internet Broadway Database
  15. ^ (18 November 1939). If Any Record Is Left, Play Breaks It Tonight, Milwaukee Journal (reporting that on November 18, 1939, Tobacco Road had 2,533rd performance, beating 2,532 mark that was being used as record for Abie's Irish Rose, though it had been discovered that number included over 200 non-Broadway performances, so that record had been made 5 months prior)
  16. ^ Tobacco Road at the Internet Broadway Database
  17. ^ (24 May 1925). 'Abie's Irish Rose' Makes Record Run. Its 1,292d Performance, One More Than "Lightnin'," Is America's Highest Score, The New York Times
  18. ^ Abie's Irish Rose at the Internet Broadway Database
  19. ^ (18 March 1920). Lightnin' Breaks Record. Reaches 658th Performance, Eclipsing Long Run of Hoyt Farce, The New York Times
  20. ^ (May 1920). [1], Munsey's Magazine, p. 730 (" 'Lightnin' has now broken the record of 'A Trip to Chinatown' for the longest consecutive New York run ...")
  21. ^ Theatre Week (1990) (noting that at start of World War I, A Trip To Chinatown still held the record, which was beat by Lightnin after the war)
  22. ^ Lightnin' at the Internet Broadway Database
  23. ^ (July 1893). The Stage, Munsey's Magazine (reporting that A Trip to Chinatown had 604th performance on June 22, 1893)
  24. ^ A Trip to Chinatown at the Internet Broadway Database
  25. ^ (22 November 1885). The Stage and Box Office, The New York Times (reporting that with 35 more performances, Adonis will bypass Hazel Kirke run of 486 performances)
  26. ^ Adonis at the Internet Broadway Database
  27. ^ Hazel Kirke at the Internet Broadway Database
  28. ^ The Oxford Companion to American Theatre, p. 298 (Hazel Kirke at 486 performances was longest run of its time of any nonmusical play)
  29. ^ Hazel Kirke: 250th performance programme (1880)
  30. ^ The Cambridge History of American Theatre, Vol. II, p. 239 (1999)
  31. ^ (5 August 1867). Black Crook advertisement, New York Tribune, p. 7 col. 3 (advertisement for 326th performance of The Black Crook on August 5, 1867; no recognition at this time that it was likely the longest)
  32. ^ The Black Crook at the Internet Broadway Database
  33. ^ Steyn, Mark. Broadway Babies Say Goodnight: Musicals Then and Now, p. 3 (1997)
  34. ^ Uncle Tom's Cabin, New York Dramatic Mirror (December 1905)
  35. ^ Some Long Theatrical Runs, The World Almanac and Encyclopedia 1903, p. 269 (1902)
  36. ^ (17 November 1853). Uncle Tom's Cabin, The New York Times (notes that 116 performances had been held to that point)
  37. ^ (23 February 1854). Uncle Tom's Cabin, The New York Times (reported that 230th performance would be that evening)
  38. ^ (19 June 1854). Uncle Tom's Cabin (advertisement), The New York Times (announcing revival of play "as performed at the National Theatre 325 consecutive times")
  39. ^ The Drunkard as a Drama of the Temperance Movement, p. 3 (1995)
  40. ^ Culture, Genre, and Literary Vocation: Selected Essays on American Literature, p. 108 (2001)
  41. ^ The Cambridge Guide To Theatre, p. 76 (1995)
  42. ^ Ireland, Joseph, Records of the New York stage, from 1750 to 1860, pp. 417, 438
  43. ^ Granqvist, Raoul. Imitation as Resistance: Appropriations of English Literature in Nineteenth-Century America, p. 170 (stating that Mazeppa ran at the Bowery Theatre for 48 consecutive nights)
  44. ^ (31 August 1833). Amusements, New York Evening Post, p. 3, col. 5 (advertisement stating that evening will be 35th presentation of Mazeppa)
  45. ^ (9 September 1833). Amusements, p. 3, col. 5 (announcing that Mazeppa will be performed that night "For the Benefit of Mr. Gale", appears to have been final consecutive performance)
  46. ^ a b c Shank, Theodore J. Theatre for the Majority: Its Influence on a Nineteenth Century American Theatre, Educational Theatre Journal Vol. 11, No. 3 (Oct., 1959), pp. 188-199, at 196 (noting that Mazeppa had 43 performances; Elephant of Siam and the Water Witch in 1831 had 18 each)