Blog: Longest running shows in history

If you're like us, you probably wish that theatre could last forever. It's always heartbreaking when your favourite shows take their final bow - the shows on this list however, fought against that final curtain to make the list of the longest running shows in history! Some of these shows are still running performances to this day. Check out our list below to find out which shows lived the longest lives across Broadway and West End stages.



BROADWAY


THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA


Opening Date: January 26, 1988

Performances: 13,370


Receiving 7 Tony Awards in 1988, including Best Musical, this is Broadway's longest-running show and musical.


CHICAGO (1996 REVIVAL)


Opening Date: November 14, 1996

Performances: 9,692


After the success of the original production in 1975, the show was renewed in 1996, and became Broadway's longest-running revival, the longest running show to have premiered on Broadway, AND Broadway's longest running American show.


THE LION KING


Opening Date: November 13, 1997

Performances: 9,302


With 6 Tony Awards and 8 Drama Desk Awards, The Lion King is the longest-running Disney Theatrical Productions show and the highest-grossing Broadway show in history.


CATS


Opening Date: October 7, 1982

Performances: 7,485


Cats received 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, as well as 3 Drama Desk Awards. The revival in 2016 saw another 593 performances.


WICKED


Opening Date: October 30, 2003

Performances: 6,836


Wicked's taken out 3 Tony Awards, 7 Drama Desk Awards, and a special place in the hearts of those who love a little magic.


LES MISERABLES


Opening Date: March 12, 1987

Performances: 6,680


For their 1987 production, Les Miserables received 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and 5 Drama Desk Awards. The show was revived twice, seeing 463 performances in 2006, and 1024 performances in 2014.


A CHORUS LINE


Opening Date: July 25, 1975

Performances: 6,137


9 Tony Awards, 5 Drama Desk Awards AND a Special Tony Award in 1984 for becoming Broadway's longest-running musical? It's no wonder it was revived in 2006 for an additional 759 performances. Don't forget the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976!


OH! CALCUTTA! (1976 REVIVAL)


Opening Date: September 24, 1976

Performances: 5,959


This controversial revue is the only non-musical to make the top ten on Broadway, and is Broadway's longest-running revue. The original production in 1969 saw 1,314 performances, and the 1976 production was the first revival to match its original for 1000+ performances.


MAMMA MIA!


Opening Date: October 18, 2001

Performances: 5,758


This much-loved worldwide hit is the longest-running jukebox musical on Broadway.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


Opening Date: April 18, 1994

Performances: 5,461


Beauty and the Beast took out a Tony Award in 1994, and continued to wow us until the show closed in 2007.



WEST END


THE MOUSETRAP


Opening Date: November 25, 1952

Performances: 28,000


The Mousetrap has performed a mind-blowing 28,000 times, and continues to beat its own records! It's the longest-running West End play, the longest-running West End show overall, and since 1952 has only had the set, costumes and props replaced TWICE.


LES MISERABLES


Opening Date: October 8, 1985

Performances: 13,964


Les Miserables is considered the longest-running West End musical even though the show's format has changed over time. The original production closed on 13 July 2019, and was replaced by a concert version at the Gielgud Theatre from 10 August 2019 until 2 December 2019 and subsequently a new staging at the refurbished Queen's Theatre from 16 January 2020.


THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA


Opening Date: October 9, 1986

Performances: 13,629


With over 13,000 performances, this musical is still running since it opened in 1986.


THE WOMAN IN BLACK


Opening Date: June 7, 1989

Performances: 12,326


This terrifying work is still running (minus the COVID shutdown) at Her Majesty's Theatre.


BLOOD BROTHERS (REVIVAL)


Opening Date: July 28, 1988

Performances: 10,013


With over 10,000 performances, Blood Brothers stands as the longest-running West End revival. Originally due to close on October 27, its run was extended by 2 weeks before closing on November 10 2012.


CATS


Opening Date: May 11, 1981

Performances: 8,949


Cats held the record for the longest-running West End musical for 17 years before it was overtaken by Les Miserables. The show closed on its 21st anniversary, when it was broadcast in Convent Garden for those who could not acquire a ticket.


MAMMA MIA!


Opening Date: April 6, 1999

Performances: 8,498


Mamma Mia! is the longest-running jukebox musical on the West End, and has been on stage for the past 20 years!


THE LION KING


Opening Date: October 19, 1999

Performances: 8,258


The Lion King won hearts in 1999, so much so that the show continues to be staged on the West End today.


STARLIGHT EXPRESS


Opening Date: March 27, 1984

Performances: 7,406


This musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber was incredibly popular in the 80s and 90s, and was seen by over 7,000 people on the West End stage.


NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE BRITISH


Opening Date: June 3, 1971

Performances: 6,761


This British farce was unanimously panned by critics, but played to full houses until 1987 at the three theatres, totally over 6,000 performances!



How many have you seen on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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