New York Times theatre critics Ben Brantley and Charles Isherwood have published their annual “Best Theater of 2016” lists. Both critics selected ten productions, using their own methodologies for their respective lists.
Brantley’s list, characterized as “Speaking Out and Listening Closely,” included “the year’s great conversation starters — and continuers and expanders.” The list includes Richard Nelson’s family election drama The Gabriels at the Public Theater; Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field, an examination of the school-to-prison pipeline at Second Stage Theatre; and Sarah DeLappe’s ensemble work The Wolves—about a girls indoor soccer team—which recently extended through December 24 at the Duke.
Ishwerwood’s list, titled “Unlikely Stories and Unexpected Combinations,” was a more straightforward list of the critic’s favorite theatrical offerings of the year. It includes the Broadway transfers of Ars Nova's Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 and Second Stage’s Dear Evan Hansen; the Broadway revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos; and Taylor Mac’s dizzying, 24-hour epic A 24-Decade History of Popular Music at St. Ann’s Warehouse.