Exploring the popularity of musical theatre revivals on Broadway

Broadway producers have long been fond of reviving classic musicals, bringing beloved works back to the stage in new and exciting ways. But what is it about musical revivals that makes them so appealing to producers, and why do they continue to be such a fixture of the theatre world?

One reason for the popularity of musical revivals is the potential for profitability. Revivals of well-known musicals often have an existing fan base that is already familiar with the show’s music, story, and characters. This can help to drive ticket sales, as audiences are often eager to relive the experience of seeing the show for the first time. Additionally, revivals often require less money to develop than new productions, as the script, score, and design elements have already been created. For producers, this means that revivals can be a safer investment than new or untested material.


But it’s not just about profits. Revivals can also offer creative opportunities for producers, directors, designers, and actors. By bringing classic works back to the stage, producers can reinterpret the material in new and exciting ways, exploring the themes and characters in a fresh context. For many theater artists, appearing in a revival can be a dream come true, giving them the chance to perform iconic roles and to be a part of the legacy of a great musical.

Revivals can also have cultural relevance. Some musicals have themes or messages that are still relevant today, even if the show was written decades ago. By reviving a classic work, producers can provide an opportunity to explore those themes in a new context, and to introduce a new generation of theatergoers to a work that has stood the test of time.

Finally, revivals can serve as a tribute to the history and legacy of musical theatre. By bringing classic works back to the stage, producers can honor the contributions of past generations of theater artists, while also showcasing the talent of contemporary performers and creative teams. For audiences, revivals can offer the chance to revisit beloved works and to see them in a new light, while also introducing new generations to the rich history of musical theatre.

In recent history some notable Broadway revivals have included:


Originally written by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth, Company is a concept musical about the ups and downs of love and relationships in modern New York City. The current revival, directed by Marianne Elliott and starring Patti LuPone and Katrina Lenk, features a gender-swapped lead role and a modernized set design. It premiered in March 2020 but had to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It re-opened in December 2021.

Caroline, or Change

Written by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, “Caroline, or Change” is a semi-autobiographical musical about an African-American maid in 1960s Louisiana and the family she works for. The current revival, directed by Michael Longhurst and starring Sharon D Clarke, premiered in October 2021. The revival has been praised for its powerful performances and emotional storytelling, and has been called a must-see for theatre fans.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Is a musical thriller by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. It premiered on Broadway in 1979 and has since been revived multiple times, including a critically acclaimed 2017 revival that played at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York City.

The story follows Sweeney Todd, a barber who returns to London after being wrongfully imprisoned for years. He seeks revenge against the corrupt judge who sentenced him and, with the help of his accomplice Mrs. Lovett, turns his barber shop into a front for his murderous scheme.

The 2017 revival of Sweeney Todd was notable for its immersive staging, which transformed the Barrow Street Theatre into a replica of a 19th-century British pie shop. The audience members were seated at tables and served pies as part of the show, creating a unique and engaging theatrical experience.

The production starred Jeremy Secomb as Sweeney Todd and Siobhán McCarthy as Mrs. Lovett, both of whom received critical acclaim for their performances. The revival also received praise for its innovative direction by Bill Buckhurst and for its faithful yet fresh interpretation of Sondheim’s music and lyrics.

Overall, Sweeney Todd remains a beloved classic of the musical theatre canon, and its numerous revivals demonstrate the enduring appeal of its thrilling story, haunting score, and unforgettable characters.

What musical revival would you like to see hit Australian stages?

Would you be excited to see a revival of Company in Australia?

Would you be excited to see a revival of Caroline, or Change in Australia?

Would you be excited to see a revival of Sweeney Todd in Australia?

Sarah Johnson

Sarah is a British born Communication and Media Graduate from the University of Leeds. Sarah has written for a number of publications and has an avid interest in theatre and the arts in general.

Sarah Johnson

One thought on “Exploring the popularity of musical theatre revivals on Broadway

  • Except that the cover photo for the article contains that art for four shows that have never had a revival on Broadway, and the 2017 Barrow St Theatre production of Sweeney Todd is albeit not a Broadway revival either as it was an off-broadway production in a 199-seat theatre, no matter how the show’s publicists tried to spin it.


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