The Most-Revived Plays Since 1945

Lists   The Most-Revived Plays Since 1945
 
Can you guess which have played Broadway the most in the last 70-plus years?
Daniel Hugh and Kathleen Turner in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Daniel Hugh and Kathleen Turner in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Michael Tighe

With the upcoming Roundabout production of All My Sons—marking the show's third Broadway revival—we got to thinking: What are the most-revived plays on Broadway?

As you might imagine, Shakespeare and ancient Greek tragedies jump immediately to the top of the list—Hamlet handily wins with 65 Broadway revivals since 1864 if anyone is wondering—but we wanted to filter for more contemporary works, so for this list we’re sticking to works that premiered on Broadway after 1945.

Here are the most-revived straight plays in last 68 years:

Plays with seven Broadway revivals (In alphabetical order)
The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams
Premiered in 1945
Revivals in 1965, 1975, 1983, 1995, 2005, 2013, 2017

Glass_Menagerie_Production_Photo_Broadway_2017_Joe-Mantello-Sally-Field-and-Finn-Wittrock-in-The-Glass-Menagerie-Photo-by-Julieta-Cervantes_HR.jpg
Joe Mantello, Sally Field, and Finn Wittrock Julieta Cervantes

Williams crops up a lot on this list, and his first play is handily his most popularly produced on Broadway, with eight productions starring everyone from Laurette Taylor and Jessica Tandy to Cherry Jones and Sally Field as embattled matriarch Amanda Wingfield.

Plays with six Broadway revivals
A Streetcar Named Desire
Premiered in 1947
Revivals in 1956, 1973, 1988, 1992, 2005, 2012

A_Streetcar_Named_Desire_Broadway_Production_Photo_1973_Rosemary Harris and James Farentino_HR.jpg
Rosemary Harris and James Farentino in A Streetcar Named Desire Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Another popular Williams property, this play remains best known for both Marlon Brando's revolutionary performance a Stanley Kowalski in the premiere, and for its Oscar-winning film adaptation starring Brando and Vivien Leigh.

Plays with five Broadway revivals (in alphabetical order)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams
Premiered in 1955
Revivals in 1974, 1990, 2003, 2008, and 2013

Terrence Howard and James Earl Jones in <i>Cat on a Hot Tin Roof</i> on Broadway, 2008
Terrence Howard and James Earl Jones in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway, 2008 Joan Marcus

Reportedly Williams’ favorite of his plays and a Pulitzer Prize winner, this work might be best known for its 1958 film version starring Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives. The original earned a Tony nomination for Best Play (and three other nods). The story concerns a wealthy Southern patriarch who, after learning that he doesn’t have long to live, manipulates his family after they fight over their forthcoming inheritance. Revival productions have featured performances by such stars as Ben Gazzara, Elizabeth Ashley, Kathleen Turner, Ashley Judd, Margo Martindale, Terrence Howard, James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Ciarán Hinds, and Scarlett Johansson.

The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
Premiered in 1953
Revivals in 1964, 1972, 1991, 2002, and 2016

Sophie Okonedo and Ben Whishaw in a scene from Arthur Miller’s <i>The Crucible</i>
Sophie Okonedo and Ben Whishaw in a scene from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible Jan Versweyveld

This Miller classic is a favorite for high school teachers, perhaps because it serves a historical double whammy; it tells the real-life story of the infamous Salem witch trials, but it was written to be a modern-day allegory in response to the McCarthy-led red scare of the 1950s. The Crucible won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1953. Later productions have starred Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, John Benjamin Hickey, and Kristin Bell. The most recent production, which opened last season, starred Ciarán Hinds, Sophie Okonedo, Saoirse Ronan, and Ben Whishaw.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night, by Eugene O’Neill
Premiered in 1956
Revivals in 1962, 1986, 1988, 2003, and 2016

0279_Gabriel Byrne and Jessica Lange in LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT photo by Joan Marcus, 2016.jpg
Gabriel Byrne and Jessica Lange in Long Day's Journey Into Night
Joan Marcus

Jessica Lange, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Shannon, and John Gallagher, Jr. starred in the most-recent revival of this piece as the famous Tyrones, a family coming to grips with such issues as morphine addiction, alcoholism, and tuberculosis. Byrne and Shannon earned Tony nominations for their portrayals, and Lange took home her first Tony statue for her performance. Earlier revivals have featured Jack Lemmon, Peter Gallagher, Kevin Spacey, Colleen Dewhurst, Jason Robards, Brian Dennehy, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Sean Leonard, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Present Laughter, by Noel Coward
Premiered in 1947
Revivals in 1958, 1982, 1996, 2010, 2017

Present_Laughter_Broadway_Production_Photos_2017_HR
Cobie Smulders and Kevin Kline Joan Marcus

Coward's comedy about an aging actor and his various romantic and business entanglements brought Kevin Kline a Tony Award for its last revival.

Plays with four Broadway revivals (in alphabetical order)

Death of a Salesman
Premiered in 1949
Revivals in 1975, 1984, 1999, 2012

Philip Seymour Hoffman in <i>Death of a Salesman</i>
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman Brigitte Lacombe for New York Magazine

The Arthur Miller classic remains a draw for major actors—everyone from George C. Scott to Philip Seymour Hoffman have stepped into Willy Loman's shoes over the years.

The Heiress
Premiered in 1947
Revivals in 1950, 1976, 1995, 2012

Cherry Jones and Philip-Bosco
Cherry Jones and Philip Bosco in The Heiress

Adapted from the Henry James novella, the story of plain spinster Catherine Sloper, her domineering father, and the young man who may or may not be her salvation has proven irresistible to actors ranging from Wendy Hiller to Jessica Chastain.

The Iceman Cometh, by Eugene O'Neill
Premiered in 1947
1973, 1985, 1999, 2018

The_Iceman_Cometh_Broadway_Production_Photo_2018_Denzel-Washington-in-THE-ICEMAN-COMETH.Photo-by-Julieta-Cervantes_HR.jpg
Denzel Washington Julieta Cervantes

O'Neill's tale of barflies at Harry Hope's has only grown in reputation as an acting showcase for its cast members, who have included Denzel Washington, Nathan Lane, Jason Robards, and more stage luminaries among them over the years.

A Moon for the Misbegotten, by Eugene O’Neill
Premiered in 1957
Revivals in 1973, 1984, 2000, and 2007

Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in <i>A Moon for the Misbegotten</i>
Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in A Moon for the Misbegotten Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

A sequel to Long Day’s Journey Into Night, this work finds Jim Tyrone as a cynical alcoholic, still reeling from the death of his mother. Productions of the piece have provided vehicles for such stage stars as Gabriel Byrne, Cherry Jones, Colleen Dewhurst, and Jason Robards.

The Price, by Arthur Miller
Premiered in 1968
Revivals in 1979, 1992, 1999, and 2017

The_Price_Production_Photos_Broadway_2017_0056_Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito in THE PRICE, Photo by Joan Marcus, 2017_HR.jpg
Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito Joan Marcus

One of Miller’s most personal works, The Price finds Victor returning to his childhood home to sell the remainder of his parents’ estate 30 years after having to give up his dream of an education to support his father. The most recent revival starred Mark Ruffalo and Danny DeVito, who made his Broadway debut as the altacocker furniture appraiser, a role previously played by Eli Wallach.

A View from the Bridge, by Arthur Miller
Premiered in 1955
Revivals in 1983, 1997, 2010, and 2015

Mark Strong and company in <i>A View From the Bridge</i>
Mark Strong and company in A View From the Bridge Jan Versweyveld

A View from the Bridge tells the story of Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn laborer who holds family and honor above all else, but his possessive love of his adopted niece threaten to disrupt both his family and ideals. This work was original presented as a one-act alongside A Memory of Two Mondays and bowed at the Coronet Theatre in 1955, but an expanded two-act version of the work has provided the basis for all subsequent Broadway revivals. Scarlett Johansson made her Broadway debut in the 2010 revival (for which she won a Tony), and the most recent 2015 production was last year’s Tony Award-winning Best Revival.

Plays with three Broadway revivals (in alphabetical order)

All My Sons, by Arthur Miller
Premiered in 1947
Revivals in 1987, 2008, 2019

Jamey Sheridan and Richard Kiley in <i>All My Sons</i>
Jamey Sheridan and Richard Kiley in All My Sons T Charles Erickson

With the upcoming Roundabout revival starring Annette Bening and Tracy Letts, All My Sons becomes Miller's fourth play on this list. A classic of the American theatre, All My Sons is the story of the Keller family, grappling with choices made during WWII and the questionable ethics of its patriarch.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Premiered in 1991
Revivals in 1992, 1994, and 2001

Patrick-Stewart 1.jpg
Patrick Stewart in A Christmas Carol

Dickens’ classic story of the Holiday-hating miser who gets a visit from some helpful ghosts on Christmas Eve. It might surprise you to see this title on a list of plays that focuses on works written after 1950, but this is actually Patrick Stewart’s solo play version of the classic holiday story—and he appeared in all four productions playing every character.

Hughie, by Eugene O’Neill
Premiered in 1964
Revivals in 1975, 1996, and 2016

hughie.JPG
Frank Wood and Forest Whitaker of Hughie Joseph Marzullo/WENN

This two-hander is essentially a long monologue for the character of Erie Smith, a small-time gambler who reminisces about a hotel clerk (from which the play is titled) to the clerk’s successor. The part has been played on Broadway by such actors as Jason Robards and Ben Gazzara—who each earned a Tony nomination for their performance in their separate productions, as well as Al Pacino, and, most recently, Forest Whitaker in his Broadway debut.

The Night of the Iguana, by Tennessee Williams
Premiered in 1961
Revivals in 1967, 1988, and 1996

Lawrence McCauley, Cherry Jones, and William Petersen
Lawrence McCauley, Cherry Jones, and William Petersen in The Night of the Iguana

Bette Davis made her final Broadway appearance in this Tennessee Williams classic, which tells the story of a defrocked priest—accused of having sexual relations with a teenage girl—who seeks shelter at a Mexican inn run by an old friend, who , in turn, finds herself competing with another woman for the priest’s attentions. Davis starred in the play’s premiere Broadway production alongside Margaret Leighton, who won the 1962 Best Actress in a Play Tony Award. Later productions starred Cherry Jones, Marsha Mason, Jane Alexander, and Richard Chamberlain.

A Touch of the Poet, by Eugene O’Neill
Premiered in 1958
Revivals in 1967, 1977, and 2005

From Left: Gabriel Byrne and Emily Bergl in <i>A Touch of the Poet</i>.
From Left: Gabriel Byrne and Emily Bergl in A Touch of the Poet. Photo by Joan Marcus

A Touch of the Poet was O’Neill’s commentary on the American immigrant experience, telling the story of a father-daughter conflict between a once-wealthy tavern-keeper and his headstrong child who aligns herself with a rich American in 1828 Massachusetts. The work was a Best Play Tony nominee when it premiered in 1958, and originally starred Helen Hayes and Kim Stanley. The most recent revival starred (now) two-time Tony nominee Gabriel Byrne and Emily Bergl.

Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett
Premiered in 1956
Revivals in 1957, 2009, and 2013

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in <I>Waiting for Godot</i>
Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot

Beckett’s absurdist masterpiece finds two tramps who are perpetually waiting for the enigmatic “Godot” in a blurred universe where time, place, and memory defy all conventional logic. Bert Lahr, the cowardly lion himself, starred in the original production of this stalwart of theatre, while later revivals have featured such luminaries as John Glover, John Goodman, Nathan Lane, and, most recently, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee
Premiered in 1962
Revivals in 1976, 2005, and 2012

Amy Morton and Tracy LettsMichael Brosilow Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.jpg
Amy Morton and Tracy Letts in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Michael Brosilow

Albee’s first major play, Virginia Woolf concerns a college professor and his wife who invite a colleague and his wife over for drinks, leading to an evening of sadistic games, attempted seductions, and shattering revelations. The most recent Broadway revival of this work won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, along with Best Actor for Tracy Letts and Best Direction for Pam MacKinnon.

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

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