14 of the Most Iconic Broadway Show Posters

Show-Score | By Thea Rodgers | Dec 23, 2016

For a lot of us, collecting Playbills—or show posters—is a source of pride and nostalgia. They’re works of art in their own right! We've rounded up 15 of the most iconic show posters: which ones would you add?

  1. Cats

Those catsuits aren't the only things burned into our brains! This poster’s brilliance is in its simplicity, juxtaposed with all of the visual delights taking place onstage.

  1. Man of la Mancha

Whimsical and classic—what better describes the story of Don Quixote? While it might be missing some windmills, this poster captures all of the joy and futility, with a stellar little detail of hope in the corner. (Plus, who can resist a good typographic horse?) Bonus shout-out to the original Hirschfeld iteration!

  1. Hamilton

You may have noticed a theme—silhouettes are iconic in the poster game. Out of all the iterations this one went through, we all have a favorite, but this instant classic is the one that stuck.

  1. The Lion King

Frank “Fraver” Verlizzo has designed more Broadway posters than we can name—and he’s got it down to a science, so to speak. With clear lines and an evocative style, there was no question that this one would make the list.

  1. West Side Story

You can escape the black-and-gold, but silhouettes just don’t stop! The blood-red background, fire escapes, and stencil graffiti tell you everything you need to know about this fatal urban romance.

  1. Les Mis

The drawing of this orphan (based on the cover image of an early French-language edition of the novel) captures all of the hope and misery of this musical. Half-cloaked in night and half-singed by the fires of rebellion, Cosette figuratively embodies the French flag in all possible ways.

  1. Fun Home

Okay, the black and yellow is back: but this time, it’s a bit more fun! This combination of silhouettes, clean lines, and stark contrast—and, of course, some super fun typography—is totally wall-worthy.

  1. A Chorus Line

This one is all about the font. Anyone who’s ever been in theater recognizes that line of auditioners—hopeful, disillusioned, desperate, and confident as hell. It’s reinforced by the showy deco font, repeated, for good measure, like the line at a cattle call or the dance pattern they learn.

  1. Hairspray

Doesn’t matter that this show isn’t really about hairspray: one look at that '60s wig tells you this lady isn’t about to be messed with. The bright sixties tones combined with the funky magazine font belies the deeper message of this musical, but we’re happy to be surprised by the rich, complex center of this cotton candy!

  1. Into the Woods

This one just gets better the more you look at it. From the sneaky wolf growing out of the title to the little fairy tale heroes under the looming trees, this poster gives us just enough of a taste of what’s to come—especially considering it was created when the musical premiered, and nobody knew what just what they'd find when they went into the woods.

  1. Little Shop of Horrors

This poster nails the b-movie cult horror aesthetic and defined the look for Audrey forever. What more can you ask for?

12. Sweeney Todd

Another favorite by Broadway designer Fraver, this one leans into the grotesque and calls on the ink drawings of old-fashioned political cartoons—and of course it’s not finished without a splash of blood.

13. Fiddler on the Roof

Let’s be real: the Hamilton poster wouldn’t exist without this guy. But this one gets more complex: the original titular silhouette gains the texture of wrinkled paper which, on closer inspection, is a map of central Europe. This one’s got layers—literally and figuratively.

15. The Phantom of the Opera

A shattered mirror, a rose, a mask—it’s the DIY opera stalker kit. It’s a little tragic, and a little romantic—just like Phantom—and dangit, it gets us every time. You know exactly what you’re getting into with this poster, and you just can’t say no to that angel of music...

  • Which posters would you add to this list? Do you have any hanging up on your walls? Tell us in the comments, and we might just add them to our roundup!