New York is world-famous for many things, including its Broadway shows. Every year there are between 30 and 40 new shows and plays, some of which only run for a very short time, but some become real evergreens.
Which Broadway shows have been playing in New York for the longest time? I’ll tell you here!
What does “longest running” actually mean?
Broadway, like most industries, has a metric system to measure success. In this case, it’s not the years but the number of performances that dictate the length of a show’s run. Some Broadway shows can run for a number of years but have fewer performances due to scheduling factors.
For instance, shows that run only on weekends will naturally have fewer performances than those that run all week. Therefore, when I speak of the “longest-running” Broadway shows, I am referring to those that have chalked up the most performances. You can also see this in my table below in the “Number of Days” column.
These are the TOP 40 longest-running Broadway shows of all time
What I found really interesting is the fact that the TOP 10 longest running musicals on Broadway have as many performances in total as #11 through #40 combined. I’ve linked the shows you can still attend today.
As of: July 25, 2023 – I checked IBDB Internet Broadway Database for the data.
What is the longest running Broadway show?
“The Phantom of the Opera” is the longest-running show on Broadway. It premiered in January 1988 and has had 13,981 performances. The last show has been on April 16, 2023.
What is the criteria for a “Long Run” on Broadway?
Several factors contribute to the longevity of a show on Broadway. These include but are not limited to: the quality and popularity of the production (script, music, direction, etc.), the talents and draw of the cast, the show’s marketing strategy, the financial backing, and even the broader social and cultural trends of the time.
A show that resonates with audiences will typically have a longer run. This could be because it taps into contemporary themes, features beloved songs, or perhaps offers a unique, unforgettable spectacle. But even then, long-term success is never guaranteed. External factors like economic downturns, changes in public taste, or global events can also play a crucial role.
Are the longest-running Broadway shows also popular in other countries?
Yes, many of the longest-running Broadway shows have also been successful internationally. They often have touring productions that visit cities around the world, and some shows have also had successful runs in international theater districts like London’s West End.
Why do some Broadway shows run longer than others?
The longevity of a show depends on several factors including the quality of the production, popularity, the talents and draw of the cast, effective marketing, financial backing, and broader social and cultural trends. Some shows resonate more with audiences, leading to sustained ticket sales and longer runs.
Are all long-running shows considered successful?
period. However, it’s also important to note that success can be subjective and might be measured differently by different people. For instance, a show might not run for a very long time but could still be considered successful if it had a significant cultural impact, won prestigious awards, or was critically acclaimed.
Do the longest-running shows change cast members often?
Yes, cast changes are a normal part of Broadway productions. Given the physical demands and scheduling requirements of Broadway, it’s common for roles to be recast periodically throughout a show’s run. Some shows might also have alternate cast members who perform at certain performances.