That The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Cabaret took the #1 and #2 slots of Time Magazine's year-end theatre Top Ten list won't surprise many New Yorkers. Nor will the appearance of Wit and Hedwig and the Angry Inch be a shock to theatregoers.
However, eyebrows are likely to be raised at numbers 5 and 6 on the list: Corpus Christi and Trainspotting. The first was Terrence McNally's controversial drama at Manhattan Theatre Club -- one that aroused right-wing ire and even threats of violence for its depiction of a gay Jesus figure growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas. (Most of the critics, however, said the show itself wasn't worthy of the rage and defensiveness surrounding it.) The second was a stage adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel on which the film "Trainspotting" was based. The show received mostly negative reviews and had difficulty finding audiences for its graphic scenes of drug use and violence.
Here's the entire Time magazine "Best of Theatre" Top Ten List:
1. The Beauty Queen of Leenane
3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
4. Not About Nightingales (Houston's Alley Theatre)
5. Corpus Christi
7. Forbidden Broadway Cleans Up
8. Swan Lake
9. The Magic Fire (Oregon Shakespeare Festival at DC's Kennedy Center)
Oh, and no surprise at Time's choice for the "worst" of the year -- the Livent debacle, with Garth Drabinsky ousted for questionable financial practicies and his former company borrowing furiously to stay afloat. The Time theatre list runs in the magazine's Dec. 21, 1998 issue.
-- By David Lefkowitz