25 May 2009
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):
- 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.
- The Norman Conquests: Living Together & Table Manners – Hysterical. Jeff and I didn’t think we were up to seeing all three in one day, so we still need to schedule Round and Round the Garden
- reasons to be pretty
- Blithe Spirit – We should have gone to a later performance because Angela Lansbury didn’t have her sea legs yet at the first preview.
- Equus – Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t half bad, but Richard Griffiths was miscast.
- The American Plan
- 33 Variations
- Speed-the-Plow – we caught this in previews with Jeremy Piven (pre-“mercury poisoning”) and had no desire to revisit it with his three successors.
- To Be Or Not To Be
- The Philanthropist – Seriously, Matthew Broderick needs a new shtick.
Off-Broadway Plays & Musicals
- The Hired Man – Resulted in yet another great cast recording.
- Road Show – Wise Guys / Gold / Bounce finally made it to New York and hopefully Sondheim now has the show out of his system and will start something new. I kind of enjoyed it, even it it didn’t leave much of an impression. I was probably too distracted by Sondheim sitting in the row behind me. Afterwards, he ducked out a side door and one of the ushers chased after him yelling that nobody could exit that way.
- Romantic Poetry – Another flopperoo made memorable by sitting behind composer Henry Krieger, who we briefly chatted with at intermission.
- The Cripple of Inishmaan
- Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them
- Things to Ruin – Joe Iconis is a composer to watch. Fortunately we caught this before the great Zipper Theatre shut down and cut short the run.
- Prayer For My Enemy
- What’s That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling
- Damn Yankees – Unfortunately, Encores couldn’t pull off another Gypsy in their second summer show. Hopefully The Wiz will be better this summer.
- Ute Lemper: Pirate Jenny Comes Back – I can’t stand the seating at Joe’s Pub, but I’d gladly go back to see the amazing Ute Lemper again.
- Garden of Earthly Delights – I’m not a huge dance fan, but I enjoyed the intriguing score by Marat/Sade composer Richard Peaslee.
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|