|Photo by Joan Marcus|
MICHAEL GIOIA, Playbill.com Staff Writer
Dogfight: I'm such a sucker for contemporary musical theatre songwriters, so I knew right away that I was going to fall in love with this material. By the end of the first act, Lindsay Mendez's touchingly beautiful performance as the out-of-place and charmingly awkward waitress Rose Fenny left me teary-eyed. It was then that I texted my teenage sister and told her that we had to see this show together — we nabbed tickets for closing night! I loved everything about the production, especially the second time around. (It was the only production I returned to this year.) I thought the staging was fluid, the performances from Mendez, Derek Klena, Annaleigh Ashford and the rest of the Off-Broadway company were inspiring, and the eclectic score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul was infectious. When will we see a cast recording?!
Porgy and Bess: Audra McDonald is, by far, one of my favorite performers, and Norm Lewis always proves to be outstanding. By intermission of the Broadway revival, I was completely blown away. McDonald was stunning as Bess, and the 2012 Tony Award for her performance was well deserved. Lewis blew my mind with his physicalization of Porgy. I felt so much for his character during those two-and-a-half hours at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Aside from their performances, the production was gorgeous, the score was beautiful and the story was moving.
The opening nights of Paper Mill Playhouse's Once On This Island and A Chorus Line: I had never seen Once On This Island, and my first experience with the musical at Paper Mill Playhouse was thoroughly enjoyable. Syesha Mercado's "Waiting For Life" was unforgettable, and the opening-night audience was electric. The Chorus Line onstage reunion of alumni, performing a reprise performance of "One," was thrilling. Chatting with a teary-eyed Terre Blair Hamlisch, the wife of the late songwriter Marvin Hamlisch, following the performance was quite the experience. I told her that A Chorus Line was life-changing; she hugged me.
Once: The Broadway production was brilliant, and Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee were so wonderful. I cannot get enough of this score, and my mother cannot thank me enough for taking her as my date!
Other high points of the year include Tracie Bennett's tour-de-force performance in End of the Rainbow; the high-flying choreography and stunts of Bring It On; experiencing Mike Tyson's opening night on Broadway with Blake Ross (my favorite line was when Tyson said, "I was 'ho-less and homeless"); watching friends — old and new — make their Broadway debuts (Nick Gaswirth in A Christmas Story and Kara Lindsay in Newsies); revisiting the magic of Peter and the Starcatcher for Broadway; the Broadway Sings… concerts (featuring Michael Jackson and Beyoncé tunes — ah-mazing!); watching Into the Woods be performed in the woods, at Central Park's Delacorte Theater; the Off-Brodway revival of Carrie; experiencing an audience-immersed production of Dreamgirls at Harlem Rep with Matt Blank; and covering my first Tony Awards.
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