‘Hello, Dolly!’ and ‘Hamilton’ were the biggest Broadway blockbusters of the decades in which they first appeared.
The original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton: An American Musical logs its 29th (nonconsecutive) week in the top 10 on the Billboard 200—the longest cumulative run by any cast recording since the Broadway cast album to Hello, Dolly! was a fixture in the top 10 for 35 consecutive weeks from March 4, 1964 to Oct. 31, 1964.
Hamilton surpasses the cast album to Hair, which logged 28 consecutive weeks in the top 10 in 1969.
Hello, Dolly! and Hamilton were the biggest Broadway blockbusters of the decades in which they first appeared. Hello, Dolly! opened on Jan. 16, 1964 and ran for 2,844 performances. It was, for a time, the longest-running Broadway musical in history. Hamilton opened on Aug. 6, 2015 and had run 1,919 performances as of March 11, 2020 when Broadway shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hello, Dolly! won 10 Tony Awards, including best musical. Hamilton swept 11, also including best musical.
The Hello, Dolly! cast album topped the Billboard 200 in June 1964, on the first chart following that year’s Tony Awards (which were held on May 24 that year). The album’s rise to No. 1 ended a 16-week lock on the top spot by The Beatles. (That was the Fab Four’s longest continuous hold on the top spot.)
Hamilton has had a series of peaks. It debuted at No. 12 in October 2015, reached a new peak of No. 11 in May 2016 amid the buzz over its record-setting 16 Tony nominations, another new peak of No. 3 in June 2016 following the Tony Awards, and yet another new peak of No. 2 last month after Disney+ premiered the filmed version of the Broadway show.
The title song from Hello, Dolly! became a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 in a cover version by Louis Armstrong (who was not in the Broadway show but would have a cameo in the 1969 film version). ). “Hello, Dolly!” won a Grammy for song of the year, one of only three Broadway songs ever to win in that category, along with “What Kind of Fool Am I?” from Stop the World – I Want to Get Off and “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music.
Other well-known songs from the show include “Before the Parade Passes By,” “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” and “It Only Takes a Moment.”
None of the songs from Hamilton became hits in the traditional sense, though several are well-known, including “My Shot,” “Room Where It Happens,” “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” and “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” which includes the crowd-igniting line “immigrants (we get the job done).”
Hamilton won a Grammy for best musical theater album. Hello, Dolly!, surprisingly, did not. It lost to the Funny Girl cast album. This represented a reversal of fortunes from the Tony Awards, where Dolly! beat Funny Girl in five categories – including best musical and best actress in a musical (Carol Channing over Barbra Streisand). At the Grammys, unlike the Tonys, Streisand (who had won two gramophones for her debut album the previous year) had home-court advantage.
Neither Dolly! nor Hamilton received a Grammy nomination for album of the year, though both albums probably came close. Dolly! was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. Hamilton will almost certainly join it as soon as it becomes eligible in 2040 (25 years after its release).
Lin-Manuel Miranda was 35 when Hamilton—for which he wrote book, music and lyrics—opened on Broadway. Jerry Herman was even younger, just 32, when Hello, Dolly! – for which he wrote music and lyrics – opened. Both of these creative artists were born in New York City. Herman died in December 2019 at age 88.
If Hamilton logs six more weeks in the top 10, it will tie Dolly! for the longest run in the top 10 by a cast album since August 1963, when Billboard combined separate stereo and mono charts into one comprehensive chart.
Before that, when there were multiple album charts, several cast albums had even longer runs in the top 10. Here are three of the most prominent examples. My Fair Lady had 173 weeks in the top 10. The Sound of Music had 105. The Music Man had 66.
As a bonus, here’s a timeline of the longest-running Broadway musicals since Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, which revolutionized Broadway musicals when it opened in March 1943. The title of longest-running musical in Broadway history went from Oklahoma! to My Fair Lady to Hello, Dolly! to Fiddler on the Roof to Grease to A Chorus Line to Cats to the current record-holder, The Phantom of the Opera.