Hit or Miss

The Year in Theatre

I remarked to Jeff last night at dinner that I felt we hadn’t seen as many shows this Tony season as in years past, which lead me to realize I haven’t blogged about the theatre in forever. High School Matt, listening to the original cast recording of some Sondheim show for the umpteenth time, would be very irked at what a jaded New Yorker Middle-Aged Matt has become, taking for granted all the great shows I see on a regular basis.

So, for the record, here’s what I saw this past year (by category and in order of enjoyment):

Broadway Musicals

  • Next to Normal – Dark, disturbing, and delightful. The cast recording has been on repeat ever since.
  • The Story of My Life – Like Glory Days last season, this is a flop I’ll treasure having seen. Hopefully the enjoyable recording will lead to a life in regional theatre.
  • Title of Show – Jeff and I loved the off-Broadway production and watched all the online videos. Attending the first preview is a night I’ll never forget.
  • 13 – We caught this early in previews before it was condensed to one-act and the more un-P.C. humor was removed. This is the show I wish had been around when I was 13. It’s a crime it was completely shut out of the Tony nominations.
  • Hair – Easily the best revival of the season.
  • Hairspray! – We caught one of the final performances when Harvey Fierstein returned to close the show.
  • Spring Awakening – I missed the Off-Broadway run because I was unimpressed by the Lincoln Center concert version, but I loved it when it moved to Broadway and we revisited it shortly before closing thanks to some comp tickets.
  • Rock of Ages – It gave Jeff a headache, but I thought it was a hoot.
  • Billy Elliott – totally overhyped and yet will probably beat out Next to Normal for the Tony.
  • Pal Joey – we caught one of understudy Matthew Risch’s first performance right after he replaced Christian Hoff in previews.
  • Shrek, the Musical – Only slightly more competent than one of those cheesy theme-park musicals.
  • West Side Story – I’ve never been more aware of what a museum piece WSS is, even with the misguided attempts to make it relevant.
  • 9 to 5 – Completely unnecessary — it managed to make sexy Andy Karl boring.
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Snore.
  • Guys & Dolls – A production really has to suck for me to rate the instantly forgettable Tale of Two Cities higher. I’ve always thought that G&D is one of those foolproof shows you can’t fuck up, and then Des McAnuff came along to prove me wrong.

Broadway Plays

Off-Broadway Plays & Musicals

Other

So, counting Broadway and Off-Broadway productions (and throwing in some cabaret and dance), I saw 36 performances this year, which turns about to be about par with years past. In all, since moving to New York, I’ve seen 206 theatrical (or theatre-“ish”) performances.

Season Broadway Musicals Off-Broadway Musicals Broadway Plays Off-Broadway Musicals Other (Dance, Cabaret, etc) Total
2003-2004 11 13 2 4 4 34
2004-2005 14 10 4 2 7 37
2005-2006 9 12 5 3 2 31
2006-2007 13 9 7 4 2 35
2007-2008 13 6 10 4 0 33
2008-2009 15 5 10 4 2 36
Totals 75 55 38 21 17 206

6 responses so far (Respond)

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We are NOT middle-aged!

Jeff | 25 May 2009
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And I thought I was anal retentive at tracking and charting things!!!

ay | 26 May 2009
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Jeff…we’re all middle-aged. Sorry. 🙂

Matt, I’d be curious to hear what you enjoyed so much about The Story of My Life. I got to see the final performance, but unfortunately found it completely forgettable. I’m interested to hear from someone who saw its redeeming qualities.

Of the other two from your list that I’ve managed to see, I also loved [title of show], and I quite enjoyed 9 to 5 as the fluff piece that it is.

Chris | 27 May 2009
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It’s hard to quantify why I liked about The Story of My Life — I guess I have a higher tolerance for schmaltz. It reminded me of some of my friendships with straight men. The recitative was little too-Sunday in the Park with George, but the actual songs were brilliant little stories. I’ve always thought Malcolm Gets was an engaging performer.

admin | 28 May 2009
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Hi Matt,

Great summary of everything you and Jeff have seen!

I have to agree with Jeff on Rock of Ages. It was just too loud for me.

But I agree with you on 13 (and I saw it after opening night.) I just liked the story. I thought it was really sweet and resonated with me – I mean, we’ve all felt like Evan at some point, a fish out of water. And I thought the music and choreography were great.

I also loved Daniel Radcliffe, didn’t think much of Jeremy Piven. (Although if I lived in New York, I would have gone back to see William H. Macy.) And I loved Raul Esparza.

For me, some of the standouts of this season were:

Hair – I’ve always loved the music. Plus, I went up on stage at the end and made my Broadway debut!

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – Such compelling storytelling with memorable characters. My first time seeing an August Wilson play.

Reasons to be pretty – I almost didn’t see this one because I didn’t think I’d like it, but I loved it. Steven Pasquale was scary good playing an obnoxious guy and Thomas Sadoski was so sweet and appealing. I loved watching him grow and find himself over the course of the play.

Dividing the Estate: I know it’s kind of sitcom-like, Arrested Development meets Dallas. But sometimes you just want to sit back and be entertained and get caught up in the story, and I was. Plus, Hallie Foote was wonderful.

I’m going back next month to see, among others, Our Town and The Norman Conquests trilogy. Still undecided about Next to Normal.

Esther | 19 Jun 2009
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You should definitely go see Next to Normal — it’s probably my favorite show of the season.

admin | 19 Jun 2009