The Top 12 Most-Revived Plays Since 1950

Lists   The Top 12 Most-Revived Plays Since 1950 Can you guess which plays have played Broadway the most in the last half-century?
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With a season that included the sixth Broadway production of The Front Page and the 16th production of The Cherry Orchard, 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 1950.

Here are the 12 most-revived straight plays in last 67 years:

Plays with five Broadway revivals (in alphabetical order)

1. 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.

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

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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.

3. 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.

Plays with four Broadway revivals (in alphabetical order)

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

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Eve Best and Kevin Spacey in A Moon for the Misbegotten Simon Annand

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, Jason Robards, and soon-to-be Tony Awards host Kevin Spacey.

5. 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.

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

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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 is currently playing on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre in a production from Roundabout Theatre Company. Mark Ruffalo returns to the Main Stem and Danny DeVito makes his Broadway debut as the altacocker furniture appraiser, a role previously played by Eli Wallach.

Plays with three Broadway revivals (in alphabetical order)

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

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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.

8. 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.

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

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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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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. The current West End revival starring Imelda Staunton will be broadcast as part of NTLive in May.

For anyone keeping score, Arthur Miller has three plays on this list, but Eugene O’Neill with four wins the day.

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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