From Carrie to Chess: 10 Short-Lived Musicals That Won't Be Forgotten

By Richard Patterson
24 Aug 2014 offers a list of Broadway shows that closed soon after their opening but, thanks to cast recordings and devoted fans, continue to endure.


At the end of every Broadway season, there are inevitably a number of musicals that have met their ends — either untimely or, well, otherwise. Some, thanks either to poor critical reaction or a failure to latch onto the cultural zeitgeist of the time, are likely never to return or may only rarely resurface. A smaller number of special shows, though, capture the imaginations of enough theatregoers and tastemakers before their brief runs are through to eke their way into the canon of great musicals.

Even the greatest Broadway players — including Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, and Kander and Ebb — hit commercial stumbling blocks along the way, their forgotten gems reexamined only after the original runs are over and done with. Most of the time these shows, thanks to challenging subject matter — harrowing real-life court trials, insane asylums, conjoined twins or transvestitism — caught on to only a limited segment of the theatregoing audience. But that doesn't mean these shows represent any less of an artistic accomplishment when compared with their more commercially successful counterparts. In fact, many have inspired successful revivals, concerts (some of them televised) and even a film, just going to show that while Broadway may be the pinnacle theatre folk aspire to that doesn't mean a musical's brief Broadway run has to be the end of a musical's life.

Click through for my pick of ten shows — mostly in alphabetical order — that were gone from Broadway all too soon, returning to glory only years later. In order to be eligible, the show had to run 150 or fewer total performances. There are many cult-favorite musicals, but I've chosen ones that have experienced noticeable resurgence over the years — especially in recent ones. 


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