Welcome to my new blog! At this time of year, everyone is publishing their “Top Ten” lists. This has been an extraordinary theatrical season, so coming up with such a list is quite a challenge. I have had many more than just 10 extraordinary evenings of theatre. Nevertheless, here are my faves:
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN by Martin McDonagh at Atlantic Theatre Co. This was a superb revival of a wonderful play by one of the English theatre’s greatest playwrights directed by Gerry Hynes and with a mostly-Irish cast.
SPEED-THE-PLOW. Another revival, this one by David Mamet, directed brilliantly by Atlantic Theare’s Artistic Director Neil Pepe, which revealed the play as far more than just a satire of Hollywood. Pepe’s production illuminated the moral dimension in this variation on the parable, “But what shall it profit a man to gain the world world but lose his soul?” I saw Willliam H. Macy as Bobby Gould. He was phenomenal.
BILLY ELLIOT. Yes, this is as extraordinary as you’ve heard. When I first saw it in London 3 years ago, I thought that all the stuff about the miners struggling to keep their jobs would seem rather arcane over here. How much has changed since then! Millions have lost their jobs since last fall, with more layoffs no doubt to come. BE is extremely moving, and Stephen Daldry’s production is amazing. And that Elton John score! I saw Kiril Kulish as Billy, and he was just fabulous.
THE NORMAN CONQUESTS. Also a revival, of three interlocking plays by England’s greatest contemporary comic playwright, with a cast of 5 wonderful Brit actors directed by Matthew Warchus. If you can see all 3, do; but if you can see only one I recommend ROUND AND ROUND THE GARDEN.
GOD OF CARNAGE. Also directed by Matthew Warchus. Quite a year for the Brits on Broadway! This is a funny/searing look at two couples trying to decide what to do about a playground incident involving their sons. The absolutely perfect cast: James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis. Not to be missed!
SHREK. This is a wonderful adaptation of the movie by David Lindsay Abaire, and Jeanine’s music is delightful. Brian D’Arcy James and Sutton Foster are two hoots as Shrek and Fiona. Great fun!
BECKY SHAW. This is the gifted Gina Gionfriddo’s breakthrough play, winner of this year’s prestigious John Gassner Award. It was an extended hit at Second Stage, featuring a wonderful cast. My faves were David Wilson Barnes and Annie Parisse; but everyone was great.
RUINED. Lynn Nottage’s multiple award-winning (including the Pulitzer Prize) drama at Manhattan Theatre Club about a madam running a brothel in the midst of civil war in the Congo. Saidah Arrika Ekulona was superb as the madam, of sort of modern-day Mother Courage.
THE GOOD NEGRO. Tracey Scott Wilson’s insightful drama about the early days of the civil rights movement, focusing on a minister clearly based on Martin Luther King who here was seen warts and all.
50 WORDS by Michael Weller. Disgracefully overlooked at awards time, this was a harrowing look at modern marriage as seen in that of a couple whose marriage spark has almost gone out. Norbert Leo Butz and Elizabeth Marvel were unforgettable.
REASONS TO BE PRETTY. Originally produced off Broadway by MCC last season, this marks Neil LaBute’s long-overdue Broadway debut. Terry Kinney’s poduction is first-rate, as is his absolutely perfect cast. My faves were Thomas Sadosky and longtime “downtown” theatre star Marin Ireland.
Well, that’s my list. What do you think of it?