The big British musical dominated Broadway in the 1980s, emphasizing spectacle over song and story. Neil Simon and August Wilson wrote multiple, highly personal comedies and dramas. And Stephen Sondheim became the last great hope of the American musical.
Here is an alphabetical list of 20 top plays and musicals in the '80s:
PLAYS"Amadeus" - Peter Shaffer's examination of genius and jealousy.
"Broadway Bound" - The final and most moving chapter of Neil Simon's autobiographical trilogy.
"Crimes of the Heart" - Beth Henley's loving portrait of three Southern sisters.
"Driving Miss Daisy" - Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning tale of an elderly Atlanta woman and her chauffeur.
"Fences" - Rising expectations divide a black family in 1950s Pittsburgh.
"Fool for Love" - A slam-bang romance by Sam Shepard.
"Glengarry Glen Ross" - David Mamet's scabrous look at the art of selling real estate.
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" - August Wilson looks at the survival of black artists in the 1920s.
"Master Harold . . . and the Boys" - Athol Fugard's play about a young white South African's realization of apartheid.
" 'night, Mother" - Marsha Norman's terrifying look at loneliness.
"Noises Off" - A British farce to end all farces.
"The Heidi Chronicles" - Wendy Wasserstein's look at how one woman coped with the feminist revolution.
"The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" - The sprawling Charles Dickens novel brought to life on stage.
"The Real Thing" - Tom Stoppard ruminates on love, marriage and infidelity.
"Cats" - Together in one show, Andrew Lloyd Webber AND T.S. Eliot; the granddaddy of the big British musicals.
"Dreamgirls" - Michael Bennett's last Broadway musical.
"Jerome Robbins' Broadway" - A reminder of what the Broadway musical once was. A collection of dance numbers from some of the master's greatest hits.
"La Cage aux Folles" - The subject was tolerance in Jerry Herman's melodic and old-fashioned adaptation of the famous French film.
"Sunday in the Park with George" - Stephen Sondheim's heartfelt statement on the public and private life of an artist.
"The Phantom of the Opera" - Thrills, chills and romance in the best of the spectacle musicals.