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Hamilton
Photograph: Courtesy Joan MarcusHamilton

The best Broadway shows you need to see

Our critics list the best Broadway shows. NYC is the place to catch these top-notch plays, musicals and revivals.

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
&
Time Out editors
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The best Broadway shows attract millions of people to enjoy the pinnacle of live entertainment in New York City. Every season brings new Broadway musicals, plays and revivals, some of which go on to glory at the Tony Awards. Along with star-driven dramas and family-oriented blockbusters, you can still find the kind of artistically ambitious and original offerings that are more common to the smaller venues of Off Broadway. All Broadway productions were closed in March 2020, but most of them are now sheduled to return in the fall or spring, and you can buy tickets for them now. Here are our theater critics' top choices among the shows that are currently playing on the Great White Way. 

RECOMMENDED: Complete A–Z listings of Broadway shows in NYC

Best Broadway shows in NYC

  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • Midtown West

If theater is your religion, and the Broadway musical your particular sect, it’s time to rejoice. This gleefully obscene and subversive satire is one of the funniest shows to grace the Great White Way since The Producers and Urinetown. Writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park, along with composer Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), find the perfect blend of sweet and nasty for this tale of mismatched Mormon proselytizers in Uganda.—David Cote

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Deirdre O’Connell is nothing less than astonishing in this uncanny and harrowingly personal documentary theater piece by Lucas Hnath, in which the playwright's mother recounts her brutal 1998 abduction by a violent criminal. In a performance of virtuoso naturalism, O’Connell lip-syncs the entire play to recordings of Dana’s actual voice. The result is an eerie true-crime tale that is gripping and unforgettable.—Adam Feldman

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

A high school student is thrust into social relevance after a classmate's suicide this captivating original musical. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's score combines well-crafted lyrics with an exciting pop sound, and Steven Levenson’s book gives all the characters shaded motives.—Adam Feldman

  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • price 4 of 4
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Composer-lyricist-star Lin-Manuel Miranda forges a groundbreaking bridge between hip-hop and musical storytelling with this sublime collision of radio-ready beats and an inspiring, immigrant slant on Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. A brilliant, diverse cast takes back American history and makes it new.—David Cote 

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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  • Midtown West

The world of Harry Potter has arrived on Broadway, Hogwarts and all, and it is a triumph of theatrical magic. Set two decades after the final chapters of J.K. Rowling’s world-shaking kid-lit heptalogy, Jack Thorne's epic (richly elaborated by director John Tiffany) combines grand storytelling with stagecraft on a scale heretofore unimagined. It leaves its audience awestruck, spellbound and deeply satisfied.—Adam Feldman

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
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Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s swelling heart of a musical tells a true story from the aftermath of 9/11, when 38 flights were forced to land in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland. Under Christopher Ashley’s fluid direction, 12 versatile actors play dozens of roles. The show makes a persuasive case for the value of good intentions; for this kind of uplift you don’t need planes.—Adam Feldman

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Very talented performers perform a 90-minute storm of improvised raps and sketches, directed by Hamilton's Thomas Kail. Notable alums (such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Monroe Iglehart, Christopher Jackson and Daveed Diggs) may drop by for guest appearances—not that the show's core cast needs any help.—Adam Feldman

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Playwright-director Conor McPherson weaves 20 songs by Bob Dylan into this adumbral evocation of America during the Great Depression. The songs exist in dramatic brackets; when the excellent actors sing, they usually leave the action of the play and face out to the audience. McPherson uses Dylan’s tunes as atmosphere in the broadest sense: They are the air the characters breathe.—Adam Feldman

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Go to hell—and by hell we mean Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell’s fizzy, moody, thrilling new musical. Ostensibly, at least, the show is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. But the newness of Mitchell’s score and Rachel Chavkin’s gracefully dynamic staging bring this old story to quivering life.—Adam Feldman

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Reality Winner is the real-life name of a young woman who was arrested in 2017 for leaking information about Russian interference in American election systems. In the fascinatin >Is This A Room, Tina Satter puts her story onstage via word-for-word transcriptions of her FBI interrogation, with a smart balance of vérité and stylization. Emily Davis plays Winner with heart-wrenching rawness and lucidity.—Adam Feldman

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Midtown West

Ruben Santiago-Hudson slides smoothly into dozens of roles in this autobiographical solo show, a tribute to the staunch woman who raised him and the gallery of colorful misfits who passed through her boarding houses in upstate New York. There is nothing revolutionary about Lackawanna Blues, but it is a loving and skillful evocation of a formidable Black woman and the community she was able to create, through the force of her character, in a world of lack and want.—Adam Feldman

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Midtown West

Stefano Massini’s epic about capitalist excess, which tells the story of the Lehman Brothers and their finance company over the span of 164 years, is an embarrassment of riches: Sam Mendes’s dynamic production never stops spinning. Embedded in the production's wealth of effects and information are techniques more commonly associated with poor theater. Three exceptional British actors—Simon Russell Beale, Adam Godley and Adrian Lester—play all of the roles; their skill, humor and humanity help personalize The Lehman Trilogy’s cautionary tale of greed and decay.—Adam Feldman

 

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

Director-designer Julie Taymor surrounds the Disney movie’s mythic plot and Elton John–Tim Rice score with African rhythm and music. Through elegant puppetry, Taymor populates the stage with a menagerie of African beasts; her staging has expanded a simple cub into the pride of Broadway.—Adam Feldman

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 4 of 4
  • Hell's Kitchen

Natalie Mendoza and Aaron Tveit play lovers caught in a bad romance in this gorgeous, gaudy, spectacularly overstuffed  adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie. Directed with opulent showmanship by Alex Timbers and drawing music from more than 75 pop hits, this jukebox megamix may be costume jewelry, but its shine is dazzling.—Adam Feldman

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  • Midtown West

Who doesn’t enjoy a royal wedding? Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss's zingy musical Six celebrates, in boisterous fashion, the union of English dynastic history and modern pop music. On a mock concert stage, the six wives of the 16th-century monarch Henry VIII air their grievances in song, and most of them have plenty to complain about. In this self-described “histo-remix,” members of the long-suffering sextet spin their pain into bops; the queens sing their heads off and the audience loses its mind.—Adam Feldman 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Jeremy O. Harris’s flabbergasting drama returns to Broadway after a remarkable run last yeat. The story begins on what appears to be an antebellum Southern plantation, then yields to a sustained investigation of how African-American people experience their own bodies and desires, especially in the crucible of interracial relationships. Directed by Robert O’Hara, the play is funny, perceptive, probing and disturbing. It snaps like a whip, and its aim is often outward.—Adam Feldman

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 3 of 4
  • Midtown West

Aaron Sorkin's stage adaptation of Harper Lee's revered 1960 novel is commendable, and the execution is exemplary. Director Bartlett Sher's elegant production is stately but not stodgy. Jeff Daniels returns to his role as 1930s Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch, a paragon of decency appropriately troubled by the unchanging world around him, with Tony winner Celia Keenan-Bolger as his precocious daughter, Scout.—Adam Feldman

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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After closing in early 2020, Waitress is returning for a limited run—with its composer, Sara Bareilles, in the lead role for teh first seven weeks. Bareilles's bright, frisky pop score is a sheer delight, and Diane Paulus directs with whimsy and verve. Fresh and delicious, Waitress has an excellent ratio of sweet to tart. The whole dish is—please forgive me—love at first bite.—David Cote

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • price 4 of 4
  • Midtown West

This musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz addresses surprisingly complex themes, such as standards of beauty, morality and, believe it or not, fighting fascism. Thanks to Winnie Holzman’s witty book and Stephen Schwartz’s pop-inflected score, Wicked soars.—David Cote

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