Long Runners on Broadway vs. Long Runners Off-Broadway

The top three longest running Broadway shows according to Playbill.com are:

Phantom of the Opera                 8279 performances and counting.
Cats                                          7485 performances
Les Misérables                           6680 performances


The top three longest running Off-Broadway shows are:

The Fantasticks                          17,162 performances
Perfect Crime                              8,421 performances and counting.
Blue Man Group: Tubes               8,406 performances and counting.

Hmmm.  Interesting.  The #3 long runner Off-Broadway has performed more shows than the #1 marathoner on Broadway. 

Let’s keep going and look at the top ten long runners.

The combined number of performances for the top ten long runners on Broadway is 57,764 performances with four shows still going.

The combined number of performances for the top ten long runners Off-Broadway is approximately 65,145 performances with six shows still going.

I say “approximately” because if you’ll notice in that Playbill article, the data from the Off-Broadway shows is almost a year older than the Broadway shows.  Oh, and they stopped counting Forbidden Broadway in 1987.   Um, that’s right, 1987.  2 years BEFORE  The Awesome 80s Prom even takes place.  Oh, and they also decided not to include Tony ‘n Tina’s since 2004.  So I made some educated assumptions to get to the total.

What’s the takeaway here?

Surprise, surprise, it’s good news for Off-Broadway!

Off-Broadway hits have a greater stamina than Broadway hits.  Once you break on through to the other side (penetrate the tourist market), you’ll just run and run and run, and not even The Phantom of the Opera will catch up.  That’s right, I’m betting another $100 that both Perfect Crime and Blue Man Group run longer than The Masked Man.  And that no Broadway show ever catches The Fantasticks.

Oh, and you know what else these numbers teach us?

That the Off-Broadway community has got to come together more to aggregate their data.  How can we say what we are . . . without knowing what we are?  More on a specific example of this problem in the Off-Broadway community tomorrow.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.