The Best 14 Broadway Revivals of All Time
By Jacob Linden
October 17, 2023
Some Broadway shows are truly timeless, and have the potential to be refreshed for new audiences to great results. You may think the first staging of a classic show is always the definitive version, but sometimes a great new star or a creative staging approach can make the revival even more acclaimed than the first run. Whether this musical was an instant hit or a hidden gem when it first premiered, these 14 Broadway revivals carried these classics on for new eyes and ears to enjoy.
- Guys and Dolls (1976)
Guys and Dolls has been revived three times on Broadway and four times on London’s West End, so it clearly has timeless appeal. We’re giving the spot to the show’s first revival in 1976, which starred Robert Guillaume in the lead role of gambler Nathan Detroit. The cast recording of this revival is still a great listen today.
2. Grease (1994)
You can never go wrong with Grease, whether you’re watching the movie, a Broadway production, or your local theater putting it on. It’s just an infectious and fun time that makes you nostalgic even if your high school experienced looked nothing like it. Ricky Paul Goldin, Susan Wood, Sam Harris, and Rosie O’Donnell rounded out the cast for this acclaimed revival, which ran in the Eugene O’Neil Theatre for over 1,500 performances.
3. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1995-1996)
This satirical musical from 1961 still skewers our culture pretty well many years later, with tons of successful revivals through the years. This mid-90s revival with Matthew Broderick starring as J. Pierrepont Finch and the hilarious Megan Mullally as Rosemary was a great interpretation that got overlooked at the Tonys.
4. Cabaret (1998)
Even though plenty of fantastic performers have played the Emcee in this hit show (like the amazing original Joel Grey), Alan Cumming is one of the best to do it from his debut in London to two incredible revivals years apart.
5. Fiddler on the Roof (2004)
It’s hard to forget Zero Mostel as Tevye in the original and first revival of this phenomenal show, but the 2004 revival starring Alfred Molina, Randy Graff, Barbara Barrie and Laura Michelle Kelly was very well received. It ran for 768 shows and demonstrated that some classic musicals will never go out of style.
6. Company (2006-2007)
This list could be populated solely by Stephen Sondheim revivals and it would be completely fair. The 2006 revival of his incredible and intimate musical about life and loneliness, Company, featured a stripped-back staging with the stars contributing orchestration themselves. Raúl Esparza’s moving performance as Bobby cemented him even further as an all-time Broadway great.
7, Gypsy: A Musical Fable (2008)
Patti LuPone, who played the role of Louise in Gypsy back in high school, returned to the show in the New York City Center on Broadway after a successful run at the Chicago Ravinia Festival. This was the fourth revival of the show, which follows Rose as a stage mother aggressively guiding her two daughters’ showbiz careers in the 1920s.
8. Hair (2009)
This portrayal of anti-Vietnam War counterculture hippies was just as affecting in 2009 as it was when it first hit Broadway way back in 1968. Cast members including Gavin Creel, Will Swenson, and Caissie Levy took on this rock musical’s classic numbers with amazing energy.
9. La Cage Aux Folles (2010-2011)
La Cage Aux Folles is a delightful adaptation of a french play, which some English-speaking audiences may know from the Robin Williams-fronted non-musical film version dubbed The Birdcage. With a book by Harvey Fierstein and both Music and lyrics by veteran composer Jerry Herman, this musical is just as great as it ever was. This Broadway revival starring Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer won the Tony Award for Best Revival, which it had already done a few years earlier with the 2005 revival!.
10. The Gerswin’s Porgy and Bess (2012)
This opera, though controversial, is also a beautifully composed and foundational piece of Broadway history. Some people may not even know that the incredible song “Summertime” is from this show. Its 2010 adaptation starring Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald brought it to new theatre audiences with appropriate adjustments, and the cast absolutely shone in the revival.
11. The Color Purple (2015-2017)
An adaptation of the acclaimed Alice Walker novel, this revival of The Color Purple starring Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson, and Danielle Brooks was acclaimed for good reason. Hudson and Erivo were vocal powerhouses in the parts of Shug and Celie respectively, breathing new life into these classic characters.
12. Hello, Dolly! (2017-2018)
Talk about enduring! Hello, Dolly! is just as much a staple on Broadway as it was in the ’60s with four Broadway revivals coming out after its 1964 debut. When you’re playing a leading character who has also been done by heavy hitters like Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand, you have to deliver, and that’s exactly what Bette Midler did when she played Dolly Gallagher Levi in 2017.
13. Parade (2023)
Parade was first staged in 1988, and won the Tony Award for best Revival recently in 2023. It’s a dramatization of the 1913 trial, wrongful conviction, and lynching of the Jewish-American factory worker Leo Frank. The revival, which starred Ben Platt as Frank, was a blistering take on this difficult subject matter.
14. Merrily We Roll Along (2023)
This revival began off-Broadway in 2022 to good reception, and it just began a limited run at the Hudson Theatre on October 10th. With an all-star core cast including Daniel Radcliffe, Lindsay Mendez, and Jonathan Groff taking on this underrated Sondheim gem, this musical’s first-ever revival is an excellent one.