The Best in Theatre: 2013

The top 10 shows and performers that dazzled most brightly!

1. Fun Home – Based on lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron have written a deeply affecting and utterly surprising new musical that brims with pathos and passion.

2. William Shakespeare – Shakespeare ruled New York stages this year (though we won’t talk about either Romeo and Juliet or the ill-advised Macbeth at Lincoln Center).  From Theater For A New Audience’s productions of Much Ado About Nothing at The Duke and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at TFANA’s new home in Brooklyn, to The Public’s rollicking staging of The Comedy of Errors and Love’s Labour’s Lost in Central Park, to the sensational mountings of Twelfth Night and Richard III currently on view courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe in London, the Bard rules!

3. Choir Boy – Tarell Alvin McCraney’s superb play with gospel music struck a nerve with audiences in its depiction of African-American men dealing with burgeoning sexuality, dysfunctional families and high expectations against the backdrop of a prep school choir.

4. Kinky Boots – Last season’s Tony-winning Best Musical has proved a continuing smash.  With a witty book by Harvey Fierstein and a terrific new score by Cyndi Lauper, this musical adaptation of a low-budget, indie British film from 2005 about a drag queen who comes to the rescue of a man who’s inherited a shoe factory, is an utter joy.

5. The Winslow Boy  Roundabout’s stellar revival of Terence Rattigan’s examination of the sacrifice exacted on an Edwardian family in their quest to exonerate their youngest son of a crime he did not commit was one of the high points of the season.

6. After Midnight – This Cotton Club style revue, backed by the 16-member Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars band, is a thrilling 90-minutes of exceptional song and dance.  The performers are out of this world.

7. All the Rage – Memoirist, actor and writer Martin Moran’s thoughtful and haunting meditation on attempting to connect with the larger world is a worth follow-up and companion piece to his Obie-winning The Tricky Part.

8. The Trip to Bountiful ­– Cicely Tyson’s Tony-winning turn as Carrie Watts in Horton Foote’s lyrical play about a woman who wants to visit her childhood home again before she dies was magnificent.  Luckily, it’s being preserved on film in 2014 on Lifetime.

9. Pippin – Diane Paulus’ circus-inspired revival of Roger Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s 70’s hit is a hit all over again.  With its beautiful score and well-toned players, Pippin is now officially a classic!

10. Laurie Metcalf – After years of television, the versatile Metcalf has made an auspicious return to the New York stage with mesmerizing performances in Sharr White’s The Other Place and Bruce Norris’s Domesticated.

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