MATT BLANK, Playbill.com Photo Editor
The first-ever legit revival of the cult musical Carrie is a no-brainer for me. I'd been fascinated with the show since reading about its legacy and hearing recordings as a child. To finally see it polished up and re-introduced to the world by this top-notch ensemble was immensely gratifying. I had a blast every time I attended and was first in line to nab the subsequent cast album. Those tunes really hold up over the years, and the talent assembled onstage was as good as it gets.
Closing night of Merrily We Roll Along at City Center Encores! I had been in India the previous three weeks and actually scheduled my return flight so as to allow me to make it to the final performance. I stumbled off the plane at JFK after 20 hours in the air, shoved my way through Customs, got a car to midtown and showed up at City Center (with luggage in tow) 15 minutes before curtain. I was deliriously tired and so happy. Could not have asked for a better welcome back to the States.
Seeing Laura Osnes really come into her own as a solo concert performer, first in her lighthearted, eclectic evening at the Cafe Carlyle and more recently with her sophisticated powerhouse performance of Maury Yeston's December Songs at 54 Below. The latter had me weeping in public... on a Wednesday.
|photo by Michael Brosilow|
The current Broadway revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? strikes me as something that may never be matched. It is simply three hours of brilliant people saying terrible things to one another in the most riveting ways. I would happily sit through another three acts, had Edward Albee chosen to keep the party going. Seamless four-person cast, but Tracy Letts and Carrie Coon in particular have become the quintessential George and Honey in my mind.
The revised Diane Paulus production of The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess was another unforgettable evening. I'm familiar with (and greatly appreciate) the original opera, but this abridged "musical theatre" version was plenty for me. Another triumph in a long line of breathtaking Audra McDonald roles, with a breakout leading man tour-de-force from Norm Lewis. And, as is my rule in life, if you put David Alan Grier onstage, I will sit and watch everything the man does.
Special mentions to: Shuler Hensley's devastatingly beautiful turn as a 600-pound man in The Whale (which should win every award in existence). James Corden and the under-appreciated Oliver Chris redefining comedy for me in One Man, Two Guvnors. Gabriel Kahane's surprising, elegantly infectious score to February House at the Public. Syesha Mercado leading a pitch perfect ensemble in Paper Mill's excellent revival of Once On This Island. Falling in love with Love Story all over again as Will Reynolds and Al Silber gently tore my heart out in Walnut Street Theatre's U.S. premiere of this gorgeous new musical. Becoming part of the action while seated onstage with Michael Gioia at Harlem Rep's "immersive" Dreamgirls. Seeing Barbra Streisand perform live for my very first time and fully understanding what all the hype is about. Two completely different and equally stellar Judas performances by Josh Young and Jeremy Kushnier in Broadway's Jesus Christ Superstar. The high-flying kinetic and musical energy of Bring It On and quadruple threat leading lady Taylor Louderman. Seeing Rock of Ages four times in 2012 (various reasons) and realizing that I will never get sick of the show. Christina DeCicco as Eva and Max von Essen as Che. Anne Hathaway's Fantine taking it to a deep, dark place. Welcome home, Forbidden Broadway... never leave us again!
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