Several wildly popular contemporary musicals, such as “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” transferred to Broadway from an Off-Broadway theatre. Transfers to larger theatres help certain productions reach wider audiences, culminating in sold-out performances and award nominations. Unfortunately, a handful of musicals never quite reach the next step in the transfer process, but they do achieve Off-Broadway cult status nonetheless.
Here are 15 Off-Broadway musicals that have yet to make a full Broadway transfer:
1. Any Laurence O’Keefe Show That Is Not ‘Legally Blonde’
As much as audiences love the daughters of Delta Nu, Laurence O’Keefe’s other musicals have been grossly overlooked in comparison. His first Off-Broadway musical, “Bat Boy,” premiered in 2001 and is now popular with community and high school theatre groups. His other Off-Broadway works include “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” “Cam Jansen” and, more recently, “Heathers: The Musical.”
Before Pasek and Paul’s major breakthroughs with “La La Land” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” they had success in 2012 with “Dogfight,” a musical about Birdlace, a marine who is headed to Vietnam, and Rose, the woman who falls for him.
3. ‘The Wild Party’ (Andrew Lippa’s version)
Adapted from Joseph Moncure March’s eponymous poem, this version of “The Wild Party,” starring Julia Murney and Idina Menzel, ran Off-Broadway in 2000. A recent Encores! production of the musical starred Sutton Foster as Queenie. Lippa has since had more Broadway exposure with “The Addams Family” and “Big Fish.”
4. ‘The Last Five Years’
Before the critically divisive 2014 film version, one of Jason Robert Brown’s best-known musicals ran Off-Broadway for two months in 2002. The show was revived Off-Broadway in 2013, and it debuted on West End last year.
5. ‘Altar Boyz’
This musical, a satire on boy-band and Christian-pop music brands, ran Off-Broadway from 2005 to 2010. There have since been productions in Korea, Hungary, the Philippines and Finland.
6. ‘Road Show’
One of Stephen Sondheim’s later musicals, this show about the Mizner Brothers’ scams and misadventures played in Chicago and D.C. in 2003 before running Off-Broadway in 2008. It then ran in London’s West End for two months in 2011.
7. ‘Little Miss Sunshine’
William Finn’s (“Falsettos,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) adaptation of the 2006 film of the same name premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 2011 before moving Off-Broadway in 2013. The musical’s sole Drama Desk nomination was for Stephanie J. Block’s performance as Sheryl Hoover.
8. ‘Now. Here. This’
Written by the same creative team behind “[title of show],” this 2012 musical ran Off-Broadway for seven weeks. It explores deep topics that the four characters contemplate.
9. ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’
Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical premiered posthumously in 2001 and was revived Off-Broadway in 2016. The musical is about Jon, a struggling singer-songwriter navigating the waters of the performing arts. A 2014 Encores! production starred Lin-Manuel Miranda.
10. ‘Lucky Stiff’
The first musical collaboration between Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty ran Off-Broadway in 1988, closing after 15 performances. It spawned a West End production in 1997 and a critically panned film version in 2014.
11. ‘Zombie Prom’
This musical about a high schooler who comes back as a zombie after attempting suicide ran Off-Broadway in 1996. Aside from a 2006 short film adaptation starring RuPaul, the show premiered Off-West End in 2009.
This musical about a fame-hungry third-grader (who turns deadly) ran Off-Broadway in 1992 and spawned a cast recording for its Los Angeles production the next year. The musical was revived Off-Broadway two years ago.
13. ‘The Fantasticks’
This 1960 musical is the longest-running Off-Broadway production ever, lasting more than 17,000 performances before it closed in 2002. The musical also spawned a 1995 film and a 2010 West End production.
14. ‘Bare: A Pop Opera’
After premiering in Los Angeles in 2000, this LGBT musical ran Off-Broadway for a month in 2004. It has since been revived Off-Broadway in 2012, and it has had international productions in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Canada and Argentina.
15. ‘The Last Sweet Days of Isaac’
This Off-Broadway rock musical about an artist who is desperate to make a perfect work of art before he dies premiered in 1970 and closed the next year. It was revived Off-Broadway in 1997.
Honorable Mention: ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’
While not officially Off-Broadway, both the 2014 La Jolla and the 2015 Paper Mill Playhouse productions were widely acclaimed. Despite Disney fans’ love for the English-language adaptation of this show, audiences were heartbroken when the show did not transfer to Broadway.
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