Elton John’s music powers the theatrical version of Disney’s The Lion King, just like the original animated film. It officially opened on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre on November 13, 1997. More than 5,000 shows later, it is still going strong, pulling in family audiences and providing wholesome entertainment.
The longest running show on Broadway is also one of its biggest earners, certainly no surprises there. The Phantom of the Opera is based on Gaston Leroux’s novel, Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. It has been set to tune by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart. The play’s worldwide gross earnings amount to $5.6 billion, the highest for any musical. Its Broadway earnings tally up to $845 million, and have been only recently surpassed by the previous musical on our list.
Wicked is based on a novel that draws inspiration from The Wizard of Oz. The Broadway and West End versions compete with one another, and the shows are known to smash their previous records of highest weekly earnings. The last week of 2012 saw Wicked pull in a cool $2.9 million, making this the highest weekly earning for a Broadway musical.
Cats ranks only behind The Phantom of the Opera as the longest running musical on Broadway. Another masterpiece by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats is unique in the sense that it relies entirely on its lyrics set to the musical score, with no dialogs between the songs. The play is based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a personal favorite of Mr. Webber.
Chicago’s second run on Broadway proved far more fruitful to the production than its previous outing in the seventies. With the audiences becoming cheekier at the turn of the century, they certainly warmed up to Chicago’s risque theme. It has earned around $380 million from more than 6,000 shows this far.
Set on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name, Les Mis is remembered for its heart-wrenching storyline set in 19th century France. A few revivals and a celluloid version later, the audiences are still not tired of watching Les Misérables, seeing that the musical is due to return to Broadway’s Imperial Theatre in 2014.
This hit musical features several hit songs of the pop band ABBA, and has grossed over $2 billion worldwide, a stupendous record to hold. This success prompted a film adaptation which was also a big hit with the audiences.
This fairytale has inspired several school productions due to its enduring storyline. The Beauty and the Beast was also the first Disney musical to be staged on Broadway. The show came to an end on Broadway only when Disney came out with their next musical, The Little Mermaid.
Miss Saigon is based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, and is an ill-fated love story which sees a Vietnamese woman abandoned by her American lover. It opened on Broadway Theatre on 11 April, 1991, and closed on 28 January, 2001, after 4,092 performances.
This humorous musical is based on the 1968 film that featured Mel Brooks. It ran on Broadway from 2001 to 2007, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony awards. The Producers garnered a neat sum of around $290 million from its 2,502 performances on Broadway.