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10 best Broadway shows in New York

Get swept up in the magic of Broadway: dive into one of the musicals from its billboard and let your imagination soar from the heart of the Big Apple. Here is a list of my favorites and the most frequently asked questions to get tickets

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

18 min read

10 best Broadway shows in New York

Times Square intersection with Broadway Avenue | ©Hellotickets

If you're planning a trip to the Big Apple soon, you're probably already making a list of things to see and do there: climb the Top of the Rock, take a cruise around Manhattan to see the skyline, or go to a Broadway musical - experiencing the mecca of American theater is a unique and unforgettable experience to enjoy in New York!

Whatever time of year you visit New York, one of the must-do plans is to go to a Broadway musical, the famous theater-lined boulevard that runs through the center of Manhattan including Times Square.

You go to New York to have fun, to be amazed at every corner, and even to daydream. That's what Broadway musicals are for, and you'll enjoy them like a child, no matter how old you are!

With hundreds of annual performances, Broadway is the mecca of New York theater. Many Hollywood actors have stepped on its stages to delight us with their talent and where great actors (although not so well known) work hard every performance to become consecrated.

I remember the first time I attended a Broadway musical in New York and it was one of the most exciting moments of the trip. Not only because I love theater but because the magic of Broadway is something unique that you won't find anywhere else. Its musical numbers and majestic stagings transport you to a world of fantasy and manage to leave you speechless, even if you are not even passionate about theater! Here is a list of the ones that, for me, are the best.

1. The Lion King

Scene from The Lion King | ©Hellotickets
Scene from The Lion King | ©Hellotickets

The throne of Broadway musicals belongs to The Lion King, an adaptation of the famous Disney animated film and on numerous occasions has been recognized as the best musical of all. With sensational scenery and music by Elton John, it has won six Tony Awards and an Evening Standard Award.

Since 1997 it has been New York's best-selling musical because it is one of the most powerful productions on Broadway. There is nothing like it!

If you have seen the movie you will know the story of little Simba, the lion prince whose evil uncle Scar wants to take the throne away from him. To do so, he sets a trap where his father Mufasa, the king of the savannah, dies.

Scar tricks him into believing that his father has perished because of him, so Simba escapes from the kingdom. Years later, the young prince learns that under his uncle's rule, the savannah has deteriorated and that is when he decides to confront the usurper and regain his place in "the cycle of life."

Why I like it

The soundtrack of The Lion King is superb as is the characterization of the actors and the staging. In addition, the story teaches values that never go out of style. Undoubtedly, an amazing show that manages to evade the real world for more than two hours.

Ideal for...

All audiences, children, and adults will enjoy it equally.

Useful information

  • Where?: Minskoff Theater (200 W 45th St, New York, 10036)

  • How long does it last?: 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.

2. Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Scene from Rockettes | ©Billboard
Scene from Rockettes | ©Billboard

When you travel to New York you're sure to have a busy schedule visiting a multitude of museums and doing all kinds of tours around the city but if your getaway coincides with Christmas, you can't miss the iconic Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

It is a magical Christmas story that premiered in 1933 for the first time and has become a true tradition at this time of the year.

It really is as spectacular as its name says! A show like the ones of yesteryear with music, humor, dance, and light effects starring the fantastic The Rockettes, which makes you relive Christmas with the illusion of a child.

Why I like it

The fun thing about the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is that the show changes every year and is always a surprise. If you're going to New York with your family, I highly recommend it because Radio City Christmas Spectacular is suitable for all ages and the kids will have a great time.

Ideal for...

All audiences, children, and adults will enjoy it equally.

Useful information

  • Where: Radio City Music Hall Theater in Rockefeller Center (1260 6th Ave, New York, 10020).

  • How long does it last?: 1 hour and 30 minutes without intermission.

3. Frozen

Frozen scene | ©NY Times
Frozen scene | ©NY Times

The most successful Disney movie of recent times has come to Broadway. You can finally sing "Let It Go" at the top of your lungs along with Elsa! Although Frozen is a recently released musical, it is already very popular with audiences. Almost as much as the animated film was back in 2013.

The plot is based on the tale of "The Snow Queen" and revolves around two sisters, Elsa and Anna, princesses of the kingdom of Arandelle who are separated in their childhood by Elsa's magical powers.

After the death of their parents, the heiress ascends to the throne and despite her efforts, she cannot control her gift, so she flees the kingdom after plunging it into perpetual winter. Her sister will go in search of her with some peculiar friends to save the country while behind the princesses' backs a plot is created to overthrow the royal family.

Why I like it

The musical's set design, special effects and soundtrack are magnificent. There is a scene involving Elsa's dress that is sure to leave you in awe. Also, like all Disney movies, the story has a very nice background as it talks about the value of friendship and family.

Ideal for...

Family.

Useful information

  • Where: St James Theater, very close to Time's Square (246 West 44th Street, New York, 10036).
    New York, 10036).

  • How long does it last?: 2 hours and 20 minutes with an intermission.

4. Aladdin

Scene from Aladdin | ©Aladdin
Scene from Aladdin | ©Aladdin

The word that can best define Aladdin's musical is magic. In this theatrical adaptation of the popular 90's animated film, everything is surprising, amazing, and extraordinary. Another Disney classic that deserves its musical version!

Thanks to a brilliant staging, a careful characterization of the characters, some novel songs, and the always hilarious humor of the Genie, this is one of the Broadway musicals that is causing more furor among the public. Everyone who comes to the New Amsterdam Theatre to see Aladdin for the first time will dream of coming back!

The story begins when Aladdin, a young petty thief from Agrabah, finds a magic lamp with which he can make three wishes to fix his life and escape poverty. With one of them, he wants to become a prince to conquer Yasmine, the beautiful daughter of the sultan with whom he has fallen in love, but the evil royal vizier has other plans for the Genie of the lamp that will endanger all the inhabitants of the city.

Why I like it

This is one of the most must-see New York musicals to see. Anyone who knows the songs from the movie will be able to hum along to the music and it's so much fun that the 2 1/2 hours will fly by. Speaking of flying, the scene in the number "An ideal world", where the protagonists fly over the city on a magic carpet, is simply magnificent. It will leave you speechless!

Ideal for...

All audiences, children, and adults will enjoy it equally.

Useful information

  • Where?: New Amsterdam Theatre (214 W 42nd St).

  • How long does it last?: 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.

5. Wicked

Scene from Wicked | ©Broadway
Scene from Wicked | ©Broadway

Wicked is the most spellbinding Broadway musical! It is the prequel to the famous story of The Wizard of Oz, a play full of suspense and emotion that deals with friendship, a theme suitable for all audiences.

It tells the story of Elphaba and Glinda, two young students of witchcraft who meet in the land of Oz and, despite their differences, strike up a great friendship. On the one hand, Elphaba is an intelligent but somewhat withdrawn sorceress who struggles to make a place for herself in the world. On the other, Glinda is outgoing and very popular at the university. Life circumstances will bring them together for some fun times but something happens that will drive the two apart until they become the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch.

Why I like it

Since its premiere in 2003, Wicked has been one of Broadway's biggest hits. For being a fresh and entertaining proposal, with intrigue, humor, and an impressive staging, it has won 3 Tony Awards and a Grammy for Best Score for a Musical. In addition, it remains on the podium of Broadway musicals that raise the most money along with The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King.

Go get ready to spot the flying monkeys! You'll never look at The Wizard of Oz with the same eyes again.

Ideal for...

All audiences, children, and adults will enjoy it equally.

Useful information

  • Where: Gershwin Theatre (222 W 51st St, New York, 10019).

  • How long?: 2 hours 45 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.

6. The Phantom of the Opera

Scene from Phantom of the Opera | ©Playbill
Scene from Phantom of the Opera | ©Playbill

Since its premiere in 1986, The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful Broadway musicals that has been awarded 7 Tony Awards (including Best Musical of the Year) thanks to the wonderful adaptation of Gaston Leroux's popular novel.

Set in the 19th century at the Paris Opera House, it tells the story of a deformed man who hides in the cellars of the opera house and terrorizes the theater workers with his crimes. The ghost falls in love with a young dancer named Christine, adopts her as his muse, and teaches her to sing to become the star of the opera. However, when he discovers that his love is impossible he swears revenge.

My favorite scene is the one in the boat when the ghost leads Christine to his lair. It's full of intrigue and chemistry. Simply sensational!

Why I like it

The enigmatic and phantasmagoric setting, the actors' costumes, and the superb soundtrack make The Phantom of the Opera a classic not to be missed on your trip to New York. No wonder it's the longest-running Broadway musical and 80 million people around the world have seen it.

Ideal for...

Adults. Children over the age of 4 are welcome, although there are some special effects and scenes that may frighten the little ones.

Useful information

  • Where: Majestic Theatre (245 W 44th St, New York, 10036).

  • How long does it last?: 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.

7. Chicago

Chicago scene | ©Chicago
Chicago scene | ©Chicago

Another of Broadway's great musical productions is Chicago, a classic that transports us each season to the roaring '20s.

With jazz music as a backdrop and Prohibition law that favored clandestine activities, corruption, and murder in the big city, this show is aimed at a more adult audience but it sneaks into high positions in the top 10 because it is one of Broadway's greats. Such is its success that it has won 6 Tony Awards and the recording of the musical's songs won a Grammy Award as well.

Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart, an innocent debutante actress who dreams of following in the footsteps of the famous vaudeville performer Velma Kelly. However, a succession of misguided events results in both ending up in prison on murder charges.

Under the crafty care of jailhouse warden Morton, Roxie gets legendary and savvy lawyer Billy Flynn to take on her case for a hefty fee. In prison, Roxie's career takes off much to the chagrin of her mentor and Velma Kelly but the artist has an ace up her sleeve for the second act...

Why I like it

If you've seen the 2002 film starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, and Richard Gere you can get an idea of the fantastic musical numbers you'll see on stage but seeing these spectacular choreographies live, with delicate staging and feeling the music from your seat is a unique experience and totally recommended.

Ideal for...

Adults. This show may not be appropriate for children 12 years old and younger.

Useful information

  • Where: Ambassador Theatre (219 West 49th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue).

  • How long does it last?: 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.

8. The Book of Mormon

Scene from The Book of Mormon | ©Sopitas
Scene from The Book of Mormon | ©Sopitas

This musical is of the most successful and funniest musicals on the Broadway circuit, and the laughs are guaranteed!

From the creators of South Park, The Book of Mormon has been very controversial since its debut in 2011 because of its provocative script and vulgar language. In fact, some people may feel uncomfortable in certain scenes because of the authors' acid criticism of religions, the spread of diseases such as AIDS, oppression, or hunger, among others.

The Book of Mormon tells the story of two Mormon missionaries, Elder Cunningham and Elder Price, who are sent to a remote village in Uganda to preach their religion among the natives. However, they soon discover that things are not as they had hoped and they do not easily convert as many people as they had anticipated, which causes the mission to take a rather different turn than they had both planned.

Why I like it

This Broadway musical has become one of the most popular with audiences and has won 9 Tony Awards. The best way to find out if it's as controversial as they say it is to go see it and draw your own conclusions.

Ideal for...

Adults. Warning for parents, the musical contains explicit language.

Useful information

  • Where: Eugene O'Neill Theatre (230 West 49th Street)

  • How long does it last?: Approximately 2 1/2 hours.

9. Moulin Rouge

Scene from Moulin Rouge | ©NY Theater
Scene from Moulin Rouge | ©NY Theater

If you're a true fan of Baz Luhrmann's award-winning film starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman in 2001, you can't miss this wonderful adaptation of Moulin Rouge. A sensational experience full of color, lights, and emotions that will immerse you in the bohemian Paris of 1900.

In fact, the theater in which it is performed has a structure and ornaments that perfectly match the theme of the musical and makes you feel part of the story. It is the ideal occasion to relive the magic conveyed by the spectacular soundtrack of Moulin Rouge with the "Can-can" or "Lady Marmalade" and the romantic love story between the young writer Christian and Satine, the star of the cabaret. A celebration of truth, beauty, freedom, and, especially, love!

Why I like it

Although it is not a copy of the film, the musical retains all the essence of the film as the scenery of the musical even has the symbolic red windmill, the giant elephant, and all the flavor of the cabaret but also modernized by adding to its repertoire recent songs which makes you identify more with the story. **The result is daring, dazzling, and exciting. Are you ready to dance?

Ideal for...

Adults. It is recommended that the ticket is for children over 12 years old.

Useful information

  • Where: Al Hirschfeld Theatre (302 West 45th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue).

  • How long?: 2 hours and 35 minutes with an intermission.

10. Hamilton

Hamilton Scene | ©Concrete Playground
Hamilton Scene | ©Concrete Playground

Can you imagine hearing the story of the birth of the United States from the mouth of one of its founding fathers and to the beat of a rap song? That's Hamilton, the Broadway musical that has become a phenomenon in recent years!

The show tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, an orphan from the Caribbean who through a series of events ends up coming to the United States and becoming a major figure in both the American Revolutionary War and the nation's first government.

Why I like it

What's catching about this musical is that the story is told unconventionally through an interactive staging where spectacular sound and light effects abound. In addition, it is a play in which there is hardly any dialogue other than through songs. Each and every one of them is unique to this musical.

Truly, Hamilton is an enrapturing experience that manages to immerse you in one of the most exciting episodes of American history. Not in vain, this Broadway musical is one of the most sought-after musicals by audiences and has managed to take home 11 Tony Awards even though it was nominated for 16 - more than any other show has ever gotten!

Ideal for...

Adults and children ages 10 and older.

Useful information

  • Where: Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue).

  • How long?: 2 hours and 40 minutes with an intermission.

11. How to buy tickets for Broadway?

Flyers for musicals | ©Hellotickets
Flyers for musicals | ©Hellotickets

You have two options to buy tickets for a Broadway musical:

On the Internet

If you want to attend a Broadway musical during your getaway to New York, my advice is to buy tickets online before you travel because there are shows in high demand, theaters are filled and the box offices immediately hang the Sold Out sign.

  • From experience I advise you to get your tickets online as far in advance as possible to ensure the best seats on the date you want and at a better price than at the box office, where you will also save having to wait in endless queues.

  • The ticket market is dynamic, which means that prices go up as the date of the musical approaches and supply decreases (just like flights, for example). If you wait too long you run the risk of running out of tickets or that there will be too few tickets at a high price and in sectors with less spectacular visibility.

  • Also, when you book online you can choose your seat in the theater. For me, this is the easiest, fastest and safest option.

At the theater box office

In my experience, it does not seem the most advisable option. The reasons are several, I'll explain them below:

  • Buying tickets for a Broadway musical at the box office means that you will have to do it when you land in New York, so you will have to adapt to the theater's schedule, travel there, and stand in a long queue to buy them.

  • This means that you will lose valuable time of your trip to New York that you could use for a tour of the city or visiting some of its best museums instead of waiting in line at the doors of a theater.

  • Getting tickets at the box office will be months later than when you could have bought them at home, there will be far fewer options and perhaps at an exorbitant price. Or they will have sold out directly given the high demand for Broadway musicals.

12. How to choose the best seat to see the musical?

At the theater | ©Denise Jans
At the theater | ©Denise Jans

Another big question you may have when you go to buy tickets to a Broadway musical is how to get the best seats in the theater to see the show. My advice is to try to find a balance between the type of tickets the theater offers and the budget you have available.

Generally, the most expensive ones are in the center in the Orchestra part and from there you will see the whole show perfectly. The Mezzanine and Balcony areas are the second and third rings respectively. Depending on how large the theater is, these sections will be more or less far from the stage.

Keep this in mind!

When buying tickets to a Broadway musical it pays to keep a few basic things in mind:

  • If you are seated very close to the stage in the theater you will see the actors in the front row and you will catch the details perfectly but you are likely to miss some of the choreography.

  • On the other hand, if you opt for a side seat you run the risk that some part of the stage will be out of the visual angle.

  • There are also some tickets called Obstructed View, which means that they have a column in front of them or any other element that makes it difficult to see the musical. These are usually much cheaper, so if you're on a tighter budget it can be a good option to experience the magic of Broadway!

13. How far in advance should I arrive at the theater?

The Hamilton Theatre | ©Hellotickets
The Hamilton Theatre | ©Hellotickets

New York is a city of long distances and heavy traffic, so to avoid arriving too early for the start time of the show I recommend that you go 30 or 45 minutes early to enter the theater comfortably, buy a bowl of popcorn or some merchandising product and find your seats.

It is important to get to the theater early because if you arrive late, once the musical has started the venue staff will not let you in. It would be a shame to miss the show because of traffic!

14. How long does the musical last?

A Broadway musical usually lasts between 2 and 2.5 hours. It is divided into acts and there are breaks in between, so you can go out to the restroom and stretch your legs without missing a minute of the show.

Knowing the duration of the show you have chosen is fundamental for you to be able to organize the plan of activities you will do that day.

15. Children and Broadway musicals

Attending a Broadway musical is one of the must-do plans you have to make during a trip to New York, especially if you go with your family. It is an amazing display of lights, color, music, and dance that kids will love! There are many shows that because of their theme and staging are perfect for a family audience.

Children's admission

However, you should know that most Broadway theaters do not admit children under the age of 4. These policies are set by the theatres on an individual level. Also, unfortunately, none of the Broadway musicals sell special children's tickets, so all attendants must pay the same price for tickets.

How to choose a musical?

When choosing a Broadway musical, parents should know a little about the plot of the show in question, but other aspects to take into account are the length of the show, the special effects, and the language used in the dialogues. This way, you will be able to choose the musical that is most appropriate for your family.

What happens if a child has a tantrum during the show?

Sometimes a child may have a tantrum in the middle of the show because he/she is tired, hungry, or sleepy. If this happens, the usher may kindly ask the child and a parent to leave the room until the child calms down and can return later to continue watching the performance.

16. Is there etiquette for attending a Broadway musical?

One of the Broadway theaters | ©Hellotickets
One of the Broadway theaters | ©Hellotickets

Although there is no specific dress code for going to a musical, usually no one is overdressed, and comfortable and appropriate clothing is the norm. So you can spend the day sightseeing and end the day enjoying a fascinating Broadway musical - your legs will thank you for it after all that walking around New York!

17. Where to eat near the theaters?

Italian Menu | ©Inatteso
Italian Menu | ©Inatteso

It is quite common that the most demanded times by the public to go to a Broadway musical are late in the evening, that is, around 7 or 8 PM. Mainly because it allows you to spend the whole day sightseeing and get to the musical just when you need to take a break.

When the show is over you are sure to work up an appetite. What to have for dinner that day? Broadway is located right in Times Square and everything is always open, so it will be easy to find a place to eat and enjoy delicious burgers like Shake Shack (691 8th Ave), delicious arepas like Empanada Mama (763 9th Ave) or tasty tacos like Los Tacos No. 1 (75 9th Ave).

New York is a city with endless gastronomic possibilities. If you want to avoid the tourist traps and eat well without breaking the bank trying, I recommend you take a look at my article The 10 best places to eat in New York City.

18. What other events can I go to in New York?

NBA game | ©NBA
NBA game | ©NBA

New York is a city full of possibilities to have fun, where there is a lot to see and do. If you want to attend another event during your vacation and you are passionate about sports I recommend other options such as: