The longest running plays don’t get revived.

We often talk about the longest runnings show in Broadway history . . . Phantom, Cats, Les Miz, Chicago . . . but rarely do we talk about the longest running plays.


Because you wouldn’t recognize ’em if we did.

Here are 10 longest running plays in Broadway history, along with whether or not it has been revived, and the year the last or original production closed.  Make sense?

Here we go.

  1. Life with Father, No revivals, 1947
  2. Tobacco Road, 3 revivals, 1950
  3. Abbie’s Irish Rose, 3 revivals 1954
  4. Gemini, No revivals, 1981
  5. Deathtrap, No revivals, 1982
  6. Harvey, No revivals, 1949
  7. Born Yesterday, 2 revivals, 2011
  8. Mary, Mary, No revivals, 1964
  9. The Voice of the Little Turtle, No revivals, 1948
  10. Barefoot in the Park, 1 revival, 2006

Interesting, no?  The three longest running plays of all time haven’t been on Broadway in well over fifty years . . . and I don’t see any one of them coming back anytime soon.  The only two revivals that were produced in this century failed.  And the lack of revivals in the rest suggests a trend contrary to what we’re seeing with musicals . . . which is when one works, we’ll revive it sooner rather than later (See La Cage, Ragtime, A Chorus Line, etc.)

What’s the reason?

Is it because it’s harder to blow the dust off these plays, because dialogue can’t be updated as easily as orchestrations and arrangements?  Is it because the play going audience is shrinking, and the musical audience is growing?    Is it because plays need stars to get on these days and no stars want to do these plays?

It would seem to me that this would be the list Producers would run to to look for revivals . . . yet these titles aren’t being touched.

Plays are different animals than musicals, and what makes a title in one genre successful doesn’t run parallel with what makes a title in the other genre successful.

That would be too easy.

When looking for a successful play, revival or not, it’s imperative that it resonate with the drama of the day . . . otherwise you’ll be on the 10 shortest running show list.


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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.