The Definitive List of the 41 Best-Selling Cast Recordings of All Time

Lists   The Definitive List of the 41 Best-Selling Cast Recordings of All Time The top ten may surprise you.
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It’s well known that Hamilton’s original cast album has been flying off the shelves, but is it the best-selling cast recording of all time? We looked into the Recording Industry of America’s records for the best-selling cast albums in history, and it turns out the official list features both albums you’d expect to see and some interesting surprises.

This data is based on information provided to the RIAA by record labels, who submit confirmed sales data towards achieving Gold (meaning 500,000 units sold) and Platinum (meaning 1 million units sold) status. The albums have been ranked according to certified units sold, and in the case of ties, chronologically by the date they received certification from the RIAA. In history, 41 cast albums have been certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. Here is the definitive list:

GOLD
41. The Sound of Music, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold December 7, 1960 (Released 1959)

40. West Side Story, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold January 12, 1962 (Released 1957)

39. Flower Drum Song, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold February 9, 1962 (Released 1958)

38. Camelot, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold February 9, 1962 (Released 1961)

37. Hello, Dolly!, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold June 2, 1964 (Released 1964)

36. Funny Girl, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold September 21, 1964 (Released 1964)

35. Oliver!, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold May 4, 1966 (Released 1962)

34. South Pacific, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold May 16, 1966 (Released 1949)

33. Mame, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold May 14, 1967 (Released 1966)

32. Man of La Mancha, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold June 28, 1967 (Released 1965)

31. Hair, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold March 25, 1969 (Released 1968)

30. Jesus Christ Superstar, Original Concept Album
Certified Gold December 21, 1970 (Released 1970)

29. Godspell, Original Off-Broadway Cast
Certified Gold December 12, 1972 (Released 1971)

28. The Wiz, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold February 23, 1990 (Released June 30, 1975)

27. Les Misérables, The Complete Symphonic Recording
Certified Gold September 29, 1992 (Released 1988)

26. Dreamgirls, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold February 9, 1993 (Released April 14, 1982)

25. La Cage Aux Folles, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold December 14, 1995 (Released August 18, 1983)

24. Les Misérables, Symphonic Recording (Highlights)
Certified Gold April 12, 1996 (Released October 15, 1991)

23. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Original Canadian Cast
Certified Gold September 12, 2000 (Released April 19, 1994)

22. Beauty and the Beast, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold December 7, 2000 (Released May 3, 1994)

21. Les Misérables, 10th Anniversary Concert
Certified Gold January 28, 2002 (Released July 26, 1996)

20. Chicago, 1996 Broadway Revival
Certified Gold February 12, 2004 (Released January 28, 1997)

19. Aida, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Gold September 21, 2004 (Released June 6, 2000)

PLATINUM
18. Annie, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Platinum December 22, 1980 (Released 1977)

17. Evita, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Platinum October 6, 1986 (Released October 5, 1979)

16. Cats, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Platinum December 5, 1988 (Released January 26, 1983)

15. The Music Man, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Platinum April 1, 1992 (Released May 28, 1962)

14. Les Misérables, Original London Cast
Certified Platinum August 17, 1998 (Released October 1986)

13. Miss Saigon, Original London Cast
Certified Platinum March 28, 2000 (Released February 13, 1990)

12. Mamma Mia!, Original London Cast
Certified Platinum February 13, 2004 (Released October 17, 2000)

11. The Lion King, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Platinum January 17, 2007 (Released November 13, 1997)

10. Jersey Boys, Original Broadway Cast
Certified Platinum September 22, 2009 (Released October 19, 2005)

THE MULTI-PLATINUM CLUB
While sales of a million and even 500,00 are unbelievably impressive, these next titles kick it into the next gear with certified sales in the multiple millions. Each Platinum certification represents 1,000,000 units sold.


9. Fiddler on the Roof, Original Broadway Cast


Certified 2x Multi-Platinum May 16, 1990 (Released September 29, 1964)

Fiddler on the Roof, Original Broadway Cast Recording

Fiddler, which opened on Broadway in September 1964, was one of the first long-running musical mega-hits; it ran for nearly eight years and was the first Broadway production in history to run for more than 3,000 performances. It also won ten 1965 Tony Awards, including best musical and score. The album lost the best score from an original cast show album Grammy Award to Funny Girl.


8. A Chorus Line, Original Broadway Cast


Certified 2x Multi-Platinum May 17, 2000 (Released January 1977)

A Chorus Line, Original Broadway Cast Recording

Until it was surpassed by Cats in 1997, A Chorus Line was Broadway’s longest running show with a 6,137-performance run that lasted nearly 15 years. Though it’s only been revived on Broadway once, it remains a beloved and often-produced musical around the world. The production won nine 1976 Tony Awards including best musical, along with the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The album lost the best cast show album Grammy Award to The Wiz.


7. Rent, Original Broadway Cast


Certified 2x Multi-Platinum March 25, 2003 (Released August 27, 1996)

Rent, Original Broadway Cast Recording

Jonathan Larson’s rock musical adaptation of Puccini’s La Bohème is widely credited with bringing a whole new audience and sound to Broadway when it opened in 1996. It ran for 12 years and 5,123 performances, winning four 1996 Tony Awards, including best musical, and the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The album lost the best musical show album Grammy Award to Riverdance.


6. Wicked, Original Broadway Cast


Certified 2x Multi-Platinum September 14, 2010 (Released December 16, 2003)

Wicked, Original Broadway Cast Recording

The second-most recent show on the top-seller list, Wicked has been running on Broadway since opening in October 2003. The cast recording, featuring vocals from original stars Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, is also the first on the Multi-Platinum list to have won a Grammy Award, beating out albums from Broadway productions of Assassins, Avenue Q, The Boy From Oz, and Wonderful Town.


5. Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast


Certified 2x Multi-Platinum October 6, 2016 (Released September 25, 2015)

Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast Recording

Hamilton may not be #1 highest selling cast album—yet—but its sales are still the most impressive on the list. The Hamilton Broadway cast album achieved 2x Multi-Platinum status just about a year after it was released; the closest any of these other albums came to matching that pace is The Phantom of the Opera, which took four years to hit double Platinum status. Hamilton was, of course, a big Tony winner and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The album beat out An American in Paris, Fun Home, The King and I, and Something Rotten! to win a Grammy as well.


4. My Fair Lady, Original London Cast


Certified 3x Multi-Platinum November 21, 1986 (Released March, 1959)

My Fair Lady, Original London Cast Recording

It probably doesn’t surprise you to see My Fair Lady high on the list of best-selling cast albums, but it’s interesting that it is the show’s London recording, released three years after the Broadway album, that has achieved record status. Stars Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, and Stanley Holloway starred in both the Broadway and London premieres of the show and recorded albums with each cast, but only the London production was recorded in stereo. This has made it the go-to record of their performances ever since, far surpassing the earlier Broadway recording recorded in mono.


3. The Phantom of the Opera, Original London Cast


Certified 4x Multi-Platinum April 2, 1996 (Released April 20, 1987)

The Phantom of the Opera, Original London Cast Recording

Phantom is Broadway’s longest-running show in history by a wide margin—it just recently hit 12,000 performances—and with total estimated worldwide grosses of over $5 billion, it’s also the most financially successful entertainment event ever. It, too, is a Grammy loser, having lost to Les Misérables’ Broadway cast album, which was released the same year as Phantom’s London recording.


2. The Phantom of the Opera, Original London Cast (Highlights)


Certified 4x Multi-Platinum April 2, 1996 (Released October 10, 1988)

The Phantom of the Opera, Highlights from the Original London Cast Recording

And it seems fans are eager to have a shorter listening experience than the full two-CD London album as well; the only other recording to have both a full and highlights release on this list is the Complete Symphonic Recording of Les Misérables, the full version of which requires three discs.


1. Les Misérables, Original Broadway Cast


Certified 4x Multi-Platinum July 15, 1998 (Released May 11, 1987)

Les Misérables, Original Broadway Cast Recording

Les Miz’s original production ran for 16 years and 6,680 performances, which makes it currently the fifth longest-running production in Broadway history. It won eight 1987 Tony Awards, including best musical, and its Broadway album beat out Me and My Girl, My Fair Lady, The Phantom of the Opera, and South Pacific to win the best musical cast show album Grammy Award. It’s also the only show to have multiple different recordings on this list.

Logan Culwell-Block is a musical theatre historian, Playbill's manager of research and curator of Playbill Vault. Please visit LoganCulwellBlock.com.