5 Broadway Shows that Changed the Industry

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5 Broadway Shows that Changed the Industry

Broadway’s theater is wrapped in tradition. One of the most wonderful parts of the industry is the classic and timeless element that surrounds the shows and experiences. You can go see My Fair Lady, Oklahoma or The Sound of Music, and it is like being transported back to the golden age of musicals. On the other hand, Broadway has also been the gateway for groundbreaking shows in modern entertainment.

Click ahead for several noteworthy productions have set the tone and changed the way we view theater.


These trailblazing shows should be at the top of your must-see list.

1. Show Boat

Show Boat is a musical theater staple and a classic, but it also confronted hot-topic themes such as racism and interracial marriage, which was illegal in many states when the show came out in 1927. This show used highly emotional songs and deep, conflicted characters to set itself apart from the romantic, comedic, lighthearted performances that people were accustomed to during that time. The social commentary on true-life issues set the tone for many other shows to come.

2. Rent

Rent broke down multiple barriers and stigmas, and changed the way musical theater was done. Based on the classic opera La Boheme about struggling artists and musicians, the show offered an updated theme surrounding modern social and cultural issues like addiction, activism, sexuality, AIDS and other tough topics. The emotional and heartbreaking story opened the door for more controversial shows on Broadway to add social commentary and powerful ideas as well as entertain.

3. West Side Story

West Side Story first premiered in 1957 and brought new themes to the stage. According to BroadwayTour.net, the show was built upon the same platform as Oklahoma!, but with a modern and more gritty urban setting. The story added an element of realism and darkness to the classic musical format as well as new styles of ballet choreography and modern songs. The themes of gangs, immigration and other issues were a new stand for musical stage performances at the time.

4. The Book of Mormon

After shows like Avenue Q showed audiences that a raunchy, cartoonish, silly performance could still be an award-winning hit, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker took it upon themselves to go one step further into the borderline offensive, yet charming and emotional, Broadway style. The religious satire of The Book of Mormon focused on Mormon missionaries in Uganda who soon realize the deeper troubles many of the region’s people face. The show pushed the envelope in all areas and created its own world of salacious, sharp wit.

Although a cutting-edge production, the show is wildly popular. According to Telecharge, it has won nine Tony awards and received constant praise for the unique style it brings to the world of Broadway.

5. The Producers

You many think of The Producers as a very classically-formatted Broadway show, however, the show revived the musical theater world when it needed it most. It has received the most Tony Awards in history, according to Salon, and started the trend of turning movies into musicals. Everything from Hairspray and The Wedding Singer, to Billy Elliot, and even Legally Blonde and Bring It On, were stage productions created from films. It also brought big Hollywood names onto the stage and further bridged the gap between the silver screen and live theater.


What’s your favorite Broadway show? Share it with us in the comments below…


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One Response to “5 Broadway Shows that Changed the Industry”

  1. Mr.Movie says:

    I think the original Broadway production of ‘Rock of Ages’ deserves an honorable mention. It held it’s own for 6 years on Broadway and brought in audiences whom normally wouldn’t have attended a Broadway show.

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