The best Broadway shows you need to see

Our critics list the best Broadway shows. NYC is the place to catch these exciting plays, musicals and revivals.
Photograph: Courtesy Julieta Cervantes Hello, Dolly!
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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 a new wave of Broadway musicals, plays and revivals, some of which go on to glory at the Tony Awards. Along with star-driven dramas and family-friendly blockbusters, there are sometimes even a few artsier offerings that you might expect to find in the smaller venues of Off Broadway. Here are our critics' top choices among the shows that are currently on the Great White Way.

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

Best Broadway shows in NYC

Theater, Musicals

The Book of Mormon

icon-location-pin Midtown West
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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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Dear Evan Hansen
Photograph: Joan Marcus
Theater, Musicals

Dear Evan Hansen

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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

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Theater, Musicals

Hamilton

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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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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy
Theater, Musicals

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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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 two-part 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

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Hello, Dolly!
Photograph: Courtesy Julieta Cervantes
Theater, Musicals

Hello, Dolly!

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Bette Midler is perfection as Dolly Levi, a matchmaker in late-19th-century New York, in this blissful revival of the 1964 musical, adapted by Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman from a Thornton Wilder comedy. Hello, Dolly! may be a vehicle for its star, but this production treats it like a vintage Rolls-Royce. Directed and performed with joyful aplomb, it gleams with old-fashioned charm.—Adam Feldman

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Springsteen on Broadway
Photograph: Courtesy Rob DeMartin
Theater, Musicals

Springsteen on Broadway

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Dressed in simple black with no band, Bruce Springsteen performs character songs and monologues in what amounts to a two-hour solo musical about himself, a rock-star cabaret act. The singer brings the audience with him on a cross-country journey that is now, as he approaches 70, less about the gunning of his engines than the steadiness of his drive. It's an intimate, generous, extraordinary show.—Adam Feldman

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Anastasia
Photograph: Matthew Murphy
Theater, Musicals

Anastasia

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Deftly adapted by Terrence McNally from the 1997 animated film, with an expanded score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, this sweeping 20th-century fairy tale stars Christy Altomare as an amnesiac who may be the last survivor of the Romanovs. Impressive craftsmanship and excellent singing help make it one of the richest new family shows to hit Broadway in years.—Adam Feldman

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The Band's Visit
Photograph: Courtesy Matt Murphy
Theater, Musicals

The Band's Visit

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David Yazbek and Itamar Moses’s unusually lovely musical has a graceful sense of time and tentative connection. The mesmerizing Katrina Lenk plays a languidly sensual Israeli café owner, and Tony Shalhoub is a courtly, soulful Egyptian bandleader stranded for a night in her uneventful desert town. Directed by David Cromer with an unblinking eye, the show seems even richer on Broadway than in its award-winning 2016 run at the Atlantic.—Adam Feldman

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Theater, Musicals

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical

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Broadway’s latest boomer jukebox musical it is an appealing and skillfully built vehicle for Carole King’s hit ditties and soulful ballads. It's a lovable love letter to a fine songwriter and natural woman.—David Cote

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Carousel
Photograph: Courtesy Julieta Cervantes
Theater, Musicals

Carousel

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Jack O'Brien's sumptuous revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1945 classic plows through the show’s darker currents, emphasizing the beauty of its song and dance over the unhappy romantic struggle between the moony Julie (Jessie Mueller) and the abusive, sexually charismatic Billy (Joshua Henry). This Carousel pulls its dramatic punches; it hits, but it doesn’t hurt. If you love the show enough, you may be inclined to forgive it.—Adam Feldman

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Come From Away
Photograph: Matthew Murphy
Theater, Musicals

Come from Away

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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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Kinky Boots
Photograph: Matthew Murphy
Theater, Musicals

Kinky Boots

icon-location-pin Hell's Kitchen
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Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper’s fizzy crowd-pleaser, in which a sassy-yet-dignified drag queen kicks an English shoe factory into gear, feels familiar at every step. But it has been manufactured with solid craftsmanship and care, and is boosted by a heart-strong cast led by Wayne Brady. The overall effect is nigh irresistible.—Adam Feldman

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Head Over Heels
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Musicals

Head Over Heels

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This saucy, boisterous musical romp grafts a 2018 sensibility onto 1980s songs by the Go-Go’s and fits them into an Elizabethan story that is set in ancient Greece. The show weaves romance, lust, intrigue and ribald comedy into a celebration of nonconformity, and Michael Mayer's glimmering production features an ensemble that is diverse in race, gender and size. Getting the beat, in this merry fantasy, means making room for different drummers.—Adam Feldman

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Theater, Musicals

The Lion King

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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

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Mean Girls
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Musicals

Mean Girls

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A canny crossbreed of Heathers and Hairspray, this new musical has been adapted by Tina Fey from her own 2004 cult movie about high-school social warfare, and it remains her vehicle: an auto de Fey, burning with bookish anger at the limits young women place on each other and themselves. Where the show shines brightest is in the spotlight it casts on its exciting young performers, including Taylor Louderman as the fearsome leader of the queen-beeyatch trio known as the Plastics.—Adam Feldman

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My Fair Lady
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Musicals

My Fair Lady

icon-location-pin Upper West Side
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Bartlett Sher directs a splendid, carefully recalibrated revival of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s sparkling 1956 musical. In Edwardian London, misogynist professor Henry Higgins (Harry Hadden-Paton) gives flower girl Eliza (Lauren Ambrose) the manners and speech of a lady. The luminous Ambrose gives a charming and intelligent performance, with an inner strength that renders condescension moot.—Adam Feldman

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Once on This Island
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Broadway

Once on This Island

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This imaginative and dynamic revival of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s 1990 musical is constantly on the move to a steady throb of pop-Caribbean beats. The "Little Mermaid"–ish plot follows naive orphan Ti Moune (winsome newcomer Hailey Kilgore), who embarks on a romance that defies the strict class and color divides that govern her island. Michael Arden’s immersive production sings, dances and conjures up a storm.—Adam Feldman

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SpongeBob SquarePants
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Musicals

SpongeBob SquarePants

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Like its irrepressible yellow hero, played by the peppy and limber Ethan Slater, this splashy new musical is unabashedly committed to imagination and dorky enthusiasm. Adapted by Kyle Jarrow from the Nickelodeon cartoon, and featuring original songs by a wild range of pop stars, the show pours out in a ravishing stream of color and invention. Director Tina Landau and sensational designer David Zinn make even the most complicated musical staging look and feel like child’s play. Soak it in.—Adam Feldman

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STRAIGHT WHITE MEN
Photograph: Courtesy Joan Marcus
Theater, Drama

Straight White Men

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Young Jean Lee made her name with experimental provocations, but here she offers a more conventional issue play on themes of power and identity. Matt (Paul Schneider) has moved in with his dad (Stephen Payne) and given up on worldly ambition, to the dismay of his brothers (Josh Charles and Armie Hammer); his stasis poses an existential challenge to their basic ethos of individual significance. Gently but firmly, Lee squeezes their universe into a foosball and rolls it toward an overwhelming question.—Adam Feldman

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Theater, Musicals

Waitress

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Katharine McPhee currently stars in this sweet and tart musical about a lady who's a whiz at making pies, but messing up everything else; pregnant from her abusive lout of a husband, she's now falling for her gynecologist. Sara Bareilles's bright, frisky pop score is a sheer delight, and Diane Paulus directs with whimsy and verve.—David Cote

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Theater, Musicals

Wicked

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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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