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Who are we calling longest running?
In order to make some news to promote the unstoppable show's second-anniversary shebang last week, the savvy "Wicked" handlers at Broadway in Chicago announced that the musical has become "Chicago's longest-running Broadway musical." So, to check out that claim, I posted on my blog a list of Chicago's longest-running Broadway shows -- as I could best discern them.
At two years and counting, "Wicked" is indeed the longest-running Broadway musical. Another current show, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," also makes the list.However, if you include off-Broadway musicals, you'd have to give that prize to "Forever Plaid," which played the Royal George Theatre for more than six years ("Naked Boys Singing" by Bailiwick lasted five). And if you include musicals that originated in Chicago, the winner is the Annoyance Theatre's "Co-Ed Prison Sluts," which ran for more than 11 years (and thus wins the prize for Chicago's longest-running musical). If you want the longest-running show, that would be either "Shear Madness," 17 years at the old Blackstone Hotel (not counting the current incarnation in the basement of the Chicago Theatre), or the ongoing late-night sketch show "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind," 19 years at the Neo-Futurarium and counting.
Once the list of musicals appeared on the blog, I heard about some titles I'd missed. So, with the help of several correspondents, here's an expanded list of Chicago's long-running Broadway shows. I'm not including reprise engagements, which is why I don't include the fast return of "The Lion King." (Sorry Disney, but you were too slow to trust Chicago audiences). Hope the list jogs some pleasant memories:
"Wicked" at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre (2005 for 24 mos. and counting)
"Joseph" at Chicago Theatre (1993 for 18 mos.)
"Show Boat" at the Auditorium (1996 for 16 mos.)
"Godspell" at Studebaker Theatre (1972 for 15 mos.)
"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at Drury Lane (2006 for 15 mos. and counting)
"Cats" at Shubert Theatre (1985 for 14 mos.)
"The Music Man" at the Shubert (1959 for 13 mos.)
"Hair" at Shubert Theatre (1969 for 12 mos.)
"Hello, Dolly!" at Shubert Theatre (1966 for 12 mos.)
"A Chorus Line" at the Shubert (1978 for 12 mos.)
"Oklahoma!" at Erlanger Theatre (1943 for 11 mos.)
"Evita" at Shubert Theatre (1980 for 11 mos.)
"Cactus Flower" at the old Blackstone Theatre (1968 for 10 mos.)
"Miss Saigon" at the Auditorium (1992 for 9 mos.)
"The Phantom of the Opera" at Auditorium Theatre (1990 for 9 mos.)
"The Lion King" at Cadillac Palace Theatre (2003 for an initial run of 8 mos.)
"Ragtime" at Oriental Theatre (1998 for 8 mos.)
"Les Miserables" at the Auditorium Theatre (1988 for 6 mos.)