The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera is Broadway’s longest-running hit, racking up more than 12,500 shows since it opened 30 years ago. Based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 horror novel, the musical centers on a deformed composer who “haunts” the Paris Opera House and its rising star, Christine. A spectacular production and an iconic songbook by Andrew Lloyd Webber make The Phantom of the Opera a super(natural) theater experience.
Another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (though not so revered as Phantom), Cats is Broadway’s fourth-longest-running show. A theater rite of passage, the unlikely hit inspired by T.S. Eliot’s 1939 poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats tells the story of one tribe of cats’ special gathering. The winner of seven Tony Awards was revived in 2017, supposedly for the final time, but fans can count on Cats returning from Heaviside Layer eventually.
The Lion King
Broadway continues its fling with feline-themed shows with The Lion King. Fans of the Academy Award-winning 1994 Disney film of the same name will love seeing Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa, and even Scar live. With 8,851 shows and counting under its belt, or, pelt, The Lion King is a fixture of family-friendly fun in the city.
The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is the winner of nine Tony Awards, a Grammy Award, and the devotion of audiences across the globe. Theater-enthusiasts worship this satirical show centering on Mormon proselytizers in Uganda. Created by alums of television’s South Park and Broadway’s Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon is the entertainment piece you’ve been praying for.
If you like The Book of Mormon, you may enjoy composer Robert Lopez’s other Broadway hit, Avenue Q. The only show featuring Sesame Street-style puppets to come with a parental advisory warning, Avenue Q’s hilarious depiction of a, er, “character”-filled New York City neighborhood is as controversial as it is quintessentially New York.
Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein’s Kinky Boots is somewhat newer to the stage—to date, the ongoing musical has celebrated some 2,050 shows—but it looks as though these boots won’t be walking anytime soon. The story of a shoe factory owner teaming up with a dynamic drag queen, played beautifully by Wayne Brady, has won crowds’ hearts and made Broadway its (stiletto-clad) stomping ground.
You won’t want to say goodbye to Hello, Dolly! as Broadway legend Bernadette Peters shines in the titular role in this beloved 1964 musical about a street-savvy matchmaker in late-19th-century New York. The show’s current revival opened with David Hyde Pierce starring opposite Bette Midler, so you know the theater world is buzzing about Dolly—which is just how she would like it.
Dear Evan Hansen
If your tastes trend toward something more contemporary, you’ll be thrilled to learn of the other original hit heating up Broadway, Dear Evan Hansen. The story of a bullied high schooler who finds his voice (and uses it stunningly) picked up the top prize at the most recent Tonys. Emotionally stirring performances and a pop-leaning songbook secure Dear Evan Hansen’s status as the new cool kid in town.