Top 10 Best Broadway Revivals
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Top 10 Best Broadway Revivals

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
These Broadway revivals knew how to update a show in style. We'll be looking at ten of the greatest Broadway revivals of all time and ranking them based on a combination of their popularity and critical acclaim. They're the revivals that'll run forever in the theater that is our memory. MsMojo ranks the best Broadway revivals. Which Broadway revival is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Transcript
Now this is how you update a show. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Broadway Revivals.

For this list, we’ll be looking at ten of the greatest Broadway revivals of all time and ranking them based on a combination of their popularity and critical acclaim.

#10: “South Pacific”

2008 Revival

The original “South Pacific” is an untouchable Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece. It was lauded for its progressive stance on racial tolerance, winning ten Tony Awards AND the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. And it wasn’t like one of those critical darlings that no one saw – it ran for 1,925 performances, making it the second-longest running Broadway show of the time. A revival seemed both unwanted and uncalled for, but luckily, the 2008 revival did wonderful service to the original, garnering rave reviews and seven Tony awards, including the coveted Best Musical Revival. Everything was meticulous, from the chemistry between the leads to the sumptuous music to the glorious production design. It successfully reinvigorated a classic for 21st century audiences.

#9: “Falsettos”

2016 Revival

“Falsettos” originally ran on Broadway between April 1992 and June 1993, earning seven Tony nominations and two wins for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. A revival appeared at the Walter Kerr Theatre in September 2016 starring a magnificent Christian Borle as Marvin, a gay man who is caught up in family drama between his male lover, ex-wife, son, and psychiatrist. The musical beautifully balances tones and musical styles, and it tells a story that is even more pertinent now than it was back in the early 90s. It’s a musical that tells a heartfelt and complex story about love while being gloriously entertaining in the process.

#8: “Once on This Island”

2017 Revival

2017 was a fantastic year for Broadway revivals, as we got a fantastic reimagining of both “Hello, Dolly!” and the lesser-known “Once on This Island.” The latter tells the story of a peasant girl named Ti Moune who falls for a boy belonging to the island’s rival clan. It’s basically “Romeo and Juliet” in the French Antilles, and it is delightful. Critics were immediately drawn to the show’s Caribbean-themed music and the debut performances of the lead performers, Hailey Kilgore and Isaac Powell. The production design was also singled out, as critics praised the costumes, set design, and inventive visual effects, all of which made the tragedy of the story more palatable and easier to digest.

#7: “Gypsy”

2008 Revival

There have been numerous revivals of “Gypsy” over the years. The original ran from 1959 to 1961, and it’s been revived four times – in 1974, 1989, 2003, and 2008. It has even been made into two films, one from 1962 and another made for TV in 1993 starring Bette Midler. The point is that this story has been endlessly told and retold, and each iteration has its own unique mannerisms and personality. The 2008 revival is arguably the best of the bunch, mainly thanks to a masterful performance from the Tony-winning Patti LuPone, who gave Rose a depth and complexity that few others have perfected. Unfortunately, this magnificent revival wasn’t very popular, and it eventually closed at a loss.

#6: “Les Misérables”

2014 Revival

“Les Misérables” is the musical to end all musicals. It’s been showered with accolades and produced numerous times. Add on the utterly bombastic 2012 film and you may think that you’ve seen all there is to see. That may be the case, but the 2014 revival was still a standout. It shrunk the orchestra, removed the classic turntable set, and added several video sequences to make the play more cinematic. It also contained a wonderful star turn for Ramin Karimloo, who made his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean. Other than that, it was the same ol’ “Les Miz,” but that’s definitely not a bad thing.

#5: “Anything Goes”

2011 Revival

“Anything Goes” is one of the all-time classic musicals. It originally played on Broadway back in 1934 and became an instant hit despite running throughout the Great Depression. It also introduced the world to the song “I Get a Kick Out of You,” which would later be popularized by Frank Sinatra. It was revived in 1987 and again in 2011, both of which won the Tony for Best Revival. The 2011 production was particularly praised, mostly for the opulent and spectacular Sutton Foster, who commanded the stage with charisma, some nice moves, and a booming, brassy voice. It successfully brought Vaudevillian wackiness and choreography to the 21st century and reminded us all of just how much fun the theatre can be.

#4: “Annie Get Your Gun”

1999 Revival

“Annie Get Your Gun” tells the fictionalized story of world-renowned sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who performed in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. It originally played at the Imperial and ran for 1,147 performances before making its way to West End the following year. It was revived in 1966 and again in 1999, where it played at the Marquis for 1,045 performances. The revival made some radical changes, like revising the book, adding new orchestration, dropping songs, adding several dance numbers, and restructuring the musical as a show-within-a-show. While this irritated some Broadway veterans, others admired the fresh take, and the production went on to win the Tonys for Best Revival and Best Actress. Even its critics couldn’t help but admire Bernadette Peters’ marvelous performance as Annie.

#3: “Guys and Dolls”

1992 Revival

Everyone loves “Guys and Dolls.” If you don’t, then you can just get the heck out. The show premiered at the 46th Street Theatre in 1950 and subsequently ran for 1,200 performances. Along the way it won the Tony for Best Musical and was selected for the 1951 Pulitzer. It has since seen three Broadway revivals, the best being the 1992 production starring Nathan Lane. It was meticulously and stylishly produced, complete with eye-catching set design and striking costumes, and the classic roles of Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide were played with aplomb by Lane and Faith Prince. It’s a masterpiece of a production that proudly stands alongside the original and the classic 1955 film.

#2: “Cabaret”

1998 Revival

“Cabaret” was a huge hit when it first premiered in 1966 at the Broadhurst. However, things irrevocably changed with the 1993 Donmar Warehouse production. It is here that the character of the Emcee became sexualized (complete with crotch suspenders and painted nipples) and Cliff’s bisexuality was given further depth. The 1998 Broadway revival was based off this production, complete with Alan Cumming reprising his role as the sensual Emcee. It was a raunchier version starring Natasha Richardson, who provided Sally Bowles with more vulnerability and desperation than previous actresses. This arguably became the de facto interpretation of “Cabaret,” as it won four Tony awards and ran for 2,377 performances, making it the third longest-running revival in Broadway history.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“West Side Story”
2009 Revival

“42nd Street”
2001 Revival

“Pippin”
2013 Revival

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”
1999 Revival

“Carousel”
1994 Revival

#1: “Chicago”

1996 Revival

“Chicago” is not only the greatest revival of all time, it’s arguably one of the greatest musicals, period. The original, titled “Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville,” ran for 936 performances between 1975 and 1977. It received a mixed reception and performed poorly, especially when compared to “A Chorus Line.” The show likely would have drifted into obscurity if not for the 1996 revival. This version received far more praise (thanks in part to the O. J. Simpson trial), generated interest in the ensuing Best Picture-winning film, and quickly became one of the most popular plays on Broadway. In 2014, it became the second longest running show in Broadway history with 7,486 performances. It’s clear that audiences can’t get enough of all that jazz.
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