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The 5 longest running Broadway musicals that you must experience in your lifetime

These illustrious musicals sweep audiences away, have you seen them all?

By Natasha Heard  |  June 22, 2022
theatre Broadway Times Square
Image Credit: Songquan Deng/Bigstock.com

With this year finally being the year that musicals come back with gusto after their hiatus, it seems only fitting to narrow down those that have made their mark on the musical theatre world. The U.S. is relieving itself of travel restrictions and inviting international visitors back to enjoy the best of what the country has to offer and, for fans of musical theatre, there’s no better place to experience the thrill of this live entertainment form than on Broadway.

These illustrious musicals sweep audiences away with their talented live orchestra, engaging storylines, actors with captivating singing voices, and sets designed so well you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’ve actually been transported into another time or to a different part of the world.

From the classics to the modern and new takes on historical occasions to completely fictional and wonderful stories that engage and delight audiences the world over in equal measure, it’s safe to safe that scouring through the musicals on Broadway and booking yourself a seat at one of the most famed theatres in New York to witness one in action should be high on your list of priorities when planning your next trip to the Big Apple.

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The Lion King is a show not to be missed. Image credit: Valestock/Bigstock.com

You may already have an idea of the Broadway musical you wish to see, but if you’re seeking out inspiration on what to watch then you may wish to look to the big names, there’s a reason that these shows have garnered so attention over the years, so if you haven’t already seen them then now’s your chance.

The Lion King

For those who don’t know the story (where have you been?!), Lion King is centred around Simba, the lion cub who learns of his responsibilities in this coming-of-age tale centred around fantastic music with a great selection of characters who lead the audience through the story with ease and that foot-tapping energy. Epic tunes, excellent costumes and excitement for the viewer throughout, if many people say that live music helps them to feel happy then The Lion King is sure to put a smile on the faces of all who witness this spectacle.

Wicked

The Wizard of Oz was the inspiration behind this tale of two friends and witches who end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch. Want to know how? You’ll just have to book a ticket! Adults and children alike love the show, which has been running since 2003 and has already made it to the top five most watched musicals. With awards including Tonys and a Grammy under its belt, you won’t be disappointed with this show.

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From Phantom of the Opera to Wicked, there are some great shows out there to see. Image credit: DBeck/Bigstock.com

Phantom of the Opera

Songs sung with gusto, high drama, a smattering of mystery; Phantom of the Opera is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running piece that is really just a love story that all who watch will be enthralled by. The story, which first hit the stage in 1986, follows a 19th-century opera house phantom and chorus girl, Christine, and features some exciting moments that captivate a live audience in a way that no film ever could.

Chicago

It’s safe to say that this one is for the adults with a story that follows Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly who find themselves in prison on murder charges. Drama, catchy tunes, slick performances, this toe-tapper takes audiences back to the roaring 20s for a fun-filled time, it’s little wonder that this 1996 revival holds no less than six Tony Awards, two Olivier Awards and a Grammy.

Cats

We’ll completely gloss over the Cats film of 2019, as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical is where you really need to see the story. Adapted from TS Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’, the show has earned seven Tony Awards since its debut in 1982 and showcases its famed song ‘Memory’ among a story that follows a group of cats hoping to go up to The Heaviside Layer. It’s not to be missed.