Here are ten of the biggest and most beloved musical hits of all time.

From demon barbers to love-struck phantoms, domineering stage mothers to misunderstood witches. Some of the most compelling, entertaining and downright bizarre stories ever told have been told in the form of the stage musical. We're counting down our favourites. 
 

10. Evita

Evita
Image via City Times

The story of Argentina's beloved but controversial first lady Eva 'Evita' Peron is considered by many to be Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpiece.

The show features timeless classics such as Another Suitcase in Another Hall, Oh What a Circus and, of course, Don't Cry For Me Argentina. 

 

9. The Book of Mormon 

Amazingly the team behind foul-mouthed cartoon comedy South Park are responsible for this story of two Mormon missionaries traveling to a remote village in Uganda.

It surprised just about everyone when it became one of the funniest, most universally adored musicals of recent years. 

 

8. Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia
Image via Ber Ticket

The ultimate feel-good jukebox musical, Mamma Mia has spawned many imitations over the years.

The winning combination of a sweet and simple story set to the irresistible hits of Swedish pop superstars ABBA, however, has never quite been matched. 

 

7. Hairspray

This is the uproarious tale of Tracey Turnblad, a plus-sized dancer with unshakeable self-belief and the highest hairline in Baltimore.

Originally written for the silver screen by John Waters in 1988, the cult classic film starred Ricki Lake, Divine and Debbie Harry.  

Hairspray has been delighting audiences all over the world since it opened on stage to rapturous reviews in 2002. The 2007 movie adaptation features Grease icon John Travolta as you've never seen him before!

 

6. Miss Saigon

Miss Saigon
Image via Neon Tommy

A powerful, moving story based on Giacomo Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon is one of the longest-running musicals in history.

It also made an overnight star of original cast member Lea Salonga. 

 

5. Gypsy

Gypsy
Image via Around the Town Chicago

Some of the greatest stage icons have played the part of stage mother from hell Mama Rose, including Ethel Merman, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters.

With a compelling plot and a show-stopping score, it remains one of the all-time great cautionary showbiz tales. 

 

4. Sweeney Todd

Certainly one of the darkest, bloodiest stage hits of all time. The tragicomic tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Stay for the songs, but don't sample the pies

 

3. Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera
Image via Stamford 

The longest-running stage show in Broadway history, Phantom of the Opera has been casting a spell over audiences for almost 30 years.

A sequel, Love Never Dies, was produced in 2010, but didn't quite have the same magic. 

 

2. Wicked

Just what made the Wicked Witch of the West so… well… wicked? This beloved musical suggests that perhaps she was simply misunderstood.

After all, it's not easy being green.

 

1. Les Miserables

Les Miserables
Image via Broadway in Chicago

This is the epic, inspiring story of French peasant Jean Valjean's quest for redemption, all the while evading the pursuit of the obsessive police inspector Javert.

Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, Les Miserables surprisingly attracted rather negative reviews when it first premiered back in 1980.

Audiences voted with their feet, however, and the show has rarely been out of production since. In London's West End it has run continuously since 1985. With a hit film adaptation sweeping the Oscars in 2012, it shows no sign of slowing down.

 

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