Musicals of the 1980s – A Complete Ordered List

The musicals of the 1980s were a bit bigger and more epic than the shows of the previous decade. A few of the popular trends at the time included dramatic plots, Andrew Lloyd Webber shows, love stories, shows set in the 1800s, and continued cultural diversity.

The 1980s mark the middle of the pre-contemporary musical theatre time period. And the most notable musicals of the decade are included below.

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1980 Musicals

42nd Street  (1980)

Music: Harry Warren  Lyrics: Al Dubin, Johnny Mercer  Book: Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble

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Barnum  (1980)

Music: Cy Coleman  Lyrics: Michael Stewart  Book: Mark Bramble

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Blues in the Night  (1980)

Musical Type: Pre-Contemporary/Revue (1980)

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Les Misérables  (1980)

Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg  Lyrics: Alan Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel  Book: Schönberg, Boublil

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Marry Me a Little  (1980)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim

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The Biograph Girl  (1980)

Music/Lyrics/Book: David Heneker, Warner Brown

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Tomfoolery  (1980)

Music/Lyrics: Tom Lehrer  Book: Cameron Mackintosh

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1981 Musicals

Bring Back Birdie  (1981)

Music: Charles Strouse  Lyrics: Lee Adams  Book: Michael Stewart

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Cats  (1981)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: T.S. Eliot, Trevor Nunn, Richard Stilgoe

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Dreamgirls  (1981)

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics/Book: Tom Eyen

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March of the Falsettos  (1981)

Music/Lyrics/Book: William Finn

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Merrily We Roll Along  (1981)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: George Furth

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Pump Boys and Dinettes  (1981)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Foley, Hardwick, Monk, Morgan, Schimmel, Wann

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Woman of the Year  (1981)

Music: John Kander  Lyrics: Fred Ebb  Book: Peter Stone

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1982 Musicals

A Doll’s Life  (1982)

Music: Larry Grossman  Lyrics/Book: Betty Comden, Adolph Green

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Is There Life After High School?  (1982)

Music/Lyrics: Craig Carnelia  Book: Jeffrey Kindley

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Little Shop of Horrors  (1982)

Music: Alan Menken  Lyrics/Book: Howard Ashman

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Nine  (1982)

Music/Lyrics: Maury Yeston  Book: Arthur Kopit

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Seven Brides for Seven Brothers  (1982)

Music: De Paul, Kasha, Hirschhorn  Lyrics: Mercer, Kasha, Hirschhorn  Book: Kasha, Landay

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Song and Dance  (1982)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Don Black, Richard Maltby Jr.

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1983 Musicals

Baby  (1983)

Music: David Shire  Lyrics: Richard Maltby, Jr.,  Book: Sybille Pearson

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Blood Brothers  (1983)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Willy Russell

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Dance a Little Closer  (1983)

Music: Charles Strouse  Lyrics/Book: Alan Jay Lerner

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Doonesbury  (1983)

Music: Elizabeth Swados  Lyrics/Book: Gary Trudeau

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La Cage aux Folles  (1983)

Music/Lyrics: Jerry Herman  Book: Harvey Fierstein

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My One and Only  (1983)

Music: George Gershwin  Lyrics: Ira Gershwin  Book: Peter Stone, Timothy S. Mayer

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Return to the Forbidden Planet  (1983)

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Bob Carlton

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Singin’ in the Rain  (1983)

Music: Nacio Herb Brown  Lyrics: Arthur Freed  Book: Adolph Green, Betty Comden

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The Human Comedy  (1983)

Music: Galt MacDermot  Lyrics/Book: William Dumaresq

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The Tap Dance Kid  (1983)

Music: Henry Krieger  Lyrics: Robert Lorick  Book: Charles Blackwell

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1984 Musicals

Chess  (1984)

Music: Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus  Lyrics: Tim Rice, Ulvaeus  Book: Richard Nelson, Rice

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Diamonds  (1984)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Various

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Just So  (1984)

Music: George Stiles  Book/Lyrics: Anthony Drewe

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Leader of the Pack  (1984)

Music/Lyrics: Ellie Greenwich Lyrics: Barry, Spector, Morton, Kent, Foley Book: Anne Beatts

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Starlight Express  (1984)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alistair Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Various

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Sunday in the Park with George  (1984)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Lapine

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The Rink  (1984)

Music: John Kander  Lyrics: Fred Ebb  Book: Terrence McNally

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What About Luv?  (1984)

Music: Howard Marren  Lyrics: Susan Birkenhead  Book: Jeffrey Sweet

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1985 Musicals

Beehive  (1985)

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Larry Gallagher

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Big River  (1985)

Music/Lyrics: Roger Miller  Book: William Hauptman

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Black and Blue  (1985)

Music: W.C. Handy, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake, Big Maybelle

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Grind  (1985)

Music: Larry Grossman  Lyrics: Ellen Fitzhugh  Book: Fay Kanin

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Mayor  (1985)

Music/Lyrics: Charles Strouse  Book: Warren Leight

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Nunsense  (1985)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Dan Goggin

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The Mystery of Edwin Drood  (1985)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Rupert Holmes

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1986 Musicals

Hot Mikado  (1986)

Music: Rob Bowman  Lyrics/Book: David H. Bell

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Into the Woods  (1986)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim  Book: James Lapine

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Jerome Kern Goes to Hollywood  (1986)

Music: Jerome Kern  Lyrics: Various  Book: Dick Vosburgh

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Rags  (1986)

Music: Charles Strouse  Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz  Book: Joseph Stein, David Thompson

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Smile  (1986)

Music: Marvin Hamlisch  Lyrics/Book: Howard Ashman

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The Phantom of the Opera  (1986)

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe  Book: Stilgoe, Webber

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1987 Musicals

Late Nite Comic  (1987)

Music/Lyrics: Brian Gari  Book: Allan Knee

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No Way to Treat a Lady  (1987)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Douglas J. Cohen

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Romance/Romance  (1987)

Music: Keith Herrmann  Lyrics/Book: Barry Harman

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Sarafina!  (1987)

Music/Lyrics/Book: Mbongeni Ngema  Music/Lyrics: Hugh Masakela

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Ten Percent Revue  (1987)

Music/Lyrics: Tom Wilson Weinberg

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The Wizard of Oz  (1987)

Music: Harold Arlen, Herbert Stothart  Lyrics:  E.Y. Harburg  Book: John Kane

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1988 Musicals

Carrie  (1988)

Music: Michael Gore  Lyrics: Dean Pitchford  Book: Lawrence D. Cohen

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Fame  (1988)

Music: Steve Margoshes  Lyrics: Jacques Levy

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Legs Diamond  (1988)

Music/Lyrics: Peter Allen  Book: Harvey Fierstein, Charles Suppon

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Lucky Stiff  (1988)

Music: Stephen Flaherty  Lyrics/Book: Lynn Ahrens

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1989 Musicals

Aspects of Love  (1989)

Music/Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber  Lyrics: Don Black, Charles Hart

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Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story  (1989)

Music/Lyrics: Buddy Holly, Various

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City of Angels  (1989)

Music: Cy Coleman  Lyrics: David Zippel  Book: Larry Gelbart

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Closer Than Ever  (1989)

Music: David Shire  Lyrics: Richard Maltby Jr.

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Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens  (1989)

Music: Janet Hood  Lyrics/Book: Bill Russell

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Forever Plaid  (1989)

Music/Lyrics: Various  Book: Stuart Ross

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Grand Hotel  (1989)

Music/Lyrics: Robert Wright, George Forrest, Maury Yeston  Book: Luther Davis

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Jerome Robbins’ Broadway  (1989)

Music/Lyrics: Various

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Meet Me in St. Louis  (1989)

Music/Lyrics: Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane  Book: Hugh Wheeler

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Miss Saigon  (1989)

Music: Claude-Michel Schönberg Lyrics: Alain Boublil, Richard Maltby Jr. Book: Boublil, Schönberg

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Sherlock Holmes – The Musical  (1989)

Music/Lyrics/Book:  Leslie Bricusse

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The Baker’s Wife  (1989)

Music/Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz  Book: Joseph Stein

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Other Decades

Musicals of the 1920s

Musicals of the 1930s

Golden Age Musicals (1940 – 1959)

Post-Golden Age Musicals (1960 – 1969)

Musicals of the 1970s

• Musicals of the 1980s → You are here!

Musicals of the 1990s

Musicals of the 2000s

Musicals of the 2010s

Musicals of the 2020s

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Which of these musicals of the 1980s is your favorite?

Or have you ever played a role in any of these 1980s musicals? Feel free to share in the comments below! And if you like these types of lists, check out the musical database. That’s where you’ll find musicals sorted by composer, theme, setting, and more!

Stacy Karyn, author of Musicals of the 1980s.
Author: Stacy Karyn

Stacy Karyn is the founder of Theatre Trip, author of The Thespian’s Bucket List, and creator of The Cast Album List. She has a TESOL drama certificate, a BA in theatre, and has worked and interned with Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters.


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