Top 20 Theatrical Moments of 2018

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Patti LuPone in London West End’s Company

Top 20 Theatrical Moments of 2018 – On and Off Broadway, London, and Beyond.

By Ross

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Amanda Lawrence. Angels in America. Photo by Helen Maybanks.
“A once in a lifetime kind of production that will move you beyond anything that you’ve seen before, shattering your senses and tearing your heart to pieces…This current revival is as solidly majestic and complete as one could wish for…Words can barely describe its wonder…Magnificent cast…The heart-breaking and powerful 7 1/2 hours flew by, carried on the energy and excitement of the audience and the intensity of the wings of an angel.” Full Review 

 

The FerrymanBy Jez Butterworth Directed By Sam Mendes
Paddy Considine (center, standing) and company. The Ferryman. Credit: © 2018 Joan Marcus .

Ferryman 

This is storytelling at its most intricate and expansive. There isn’t a moment that should be sliced away, nor a visual you’d want to miss. It’s a delicate creation…’The Ferryman’ has so many levels…each enhancing the other like flavors in a Jameson Irish whiskey, blending aromatically for all to savor…As powerful as anything you have seen in years…All of the cast and design crew is perfection, literally filling the stage with authenticity and dimension that can’t be ignored.” Full Review 

Encores!A Chorus Line
The cast of Encores! A Chorus Line. Photo by Joan Marcus.
“Michael Bennett’s conceptual piece, drafted together by a group of frustrated dancers, led by Tony Stevens and Michon Peacock, is beautifully realized once again on the NYC stage, and it hasn’t lost any of its power or appeal. With a cast of spectacularly talented dancers and singers, ‘A Chorus Line’ resonates just as it did for me 28 years ago…The glorious wonder of the piece remains solid and everlasting.” Full Review 
Photo Credit Matthew Murphy
The company of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo Credit Matthew Murphy
“This play and production is theatrical genius with layers upon layers of cape-tastic excitement and wand-elishous magic that just keep out-doing itself, raising the bar from one moment to the next…The true beauty of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ is that everyone can enjoy and take great pleasure in Moaning Myrtle, and this story. As meticulously directed by co-creator Tiffany, no one is left behind; everyone is invited to this wondrous party as this production flies up high.” Full Review 
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The cast of COMPANY
West End’s Company
“The main reason my November trip occurred in the first place began with the announcement that Sondheim’s Company was being revived in the West End and one of my all time favorites, Patti LuPone (Gypsy, Sweeney Todd) was going to play Joanne, a part made famous by Elaine Stritch back on Broadway in 1970. I’ve seen LuPone perform the famous, “The Ladies Who Lunch” when she sang as part of a red-dressed ladies giving celebration to Sondheim’s 80th birthday. LuPone wondrously sang the song with a sweet nod directly to Stritch’s red hat stating,  “I’ll drink to that!” LuPone was also seen in the role opposite Neil Patrick Harris at the 2011 New York Philharmonic concert version, one I missed live but watched a live recording streamed from somewhere into my living room while cursing the world for allowing me to miss it. But here in London, directed with a wise and creative twist by Marianne Elliott (National’s Rules for Living, West End/Broadway’s Curious Incident…Angels in America), I get a second chance. And boy, am I drinking to that (and sitting in my apartment in NYC, I hope one day to get a second round)…” Full Review
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Karen Olivo, Aaron Tveit. Moulin Rouge. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2018.
Moulin RougeBoston
“Logan has found a way to take the perfect and precious, and make it better, deeper, darker, and surprising…It’s highly stylized and dramatic…This is not going to be a carbon copy of the masterful film, but a reimagining…The additions are seamless and perfectly mixed…There are still some awkward staging moments that need attention before it can-can’s its way onto the Broadway stage, but they are all fixable and minor.” Full Review 
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John MacMillan, Billie Piper. Photo Credit: Stephanie Berger.
“Simon Stone’s adaptation bares the weight of its history but drives it forward into the modern world of British culture and liberalism…It’s a sad and horrendous journey to watch, especially as enlivened by Piper and as coaxed through by director Stone into a journey riddled with complications and reactions that will be forever etched into my brain…If Piper doesn’t rip your heart in two, I’d wonder if you left it at home with your babysitter.” Full Review 
Noah Robbins and Edmund Donovan in CLARKSTON, part of LEWISTON _ CLARKSTON at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater - Photo by Jeremy Daniel (2)
Edmund Donovan (standing) and Noah Robbins  in Clarkston. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
“I might not have gone, and then much to my horror, I would have missed out on something pretty damn special and astonishing. Because what playwright Samuel D. Hunter has done with his new two play evening, ‘Lewiston/Clarkston’ is dynamically astounding…The writing by Hunter is profound and exceedingly real, showcasing an interpersonal desire for connection and understanding…The acting is across the board magnificently moving and heart-breaking.” Full Review 
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The cast of The Inheritance. Photo by Marc Brenner.
“It’s no wonder that the ambitious playwright Matthew Lopez (The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Whipping Man) was struck by the layers of Howards End and saw within the story a construct that could fit somewhere inside the psyche of a new generation of gay men, especially taking into account Edward Morgan Forster’s own personal battle with his own visibility and sexuality. Paying a certain homage to the fore-bearers of gay culture, The Inheritance tackles a tremendous amount, pushing its place onto the mantle somewhere beside Kushner’s far more ethereal Angels in America with a slightly aggressive and pompous stance of an overly confident pretty boy, daring us to look away from its imperfect but devastatingly emotional six acts and seven hours. It is most decidedly a masterpiece, almost measuring up to Kushner’s triumphant Angels as it dives head first into 21st Century queer politics and the economic discrepancies within modern culture. It owes itself more to the closeted E. M. Foster than Kushner though, yielding a monumental piece about the turbulent lives of a group of young, ambitious gay New Yorkers floundering and excelling sometime after the peak of the AIDs crisis and strutting proudly into the gay frontier of love relationships, won marriage equality, and the loss of souls to addiction and community abandonment. Spanning generations of attachments and the entanglement of lives, The Inheritance bridges the themes of E. M. Forster’s novel to the past and present New York City, trying to understand the legacy that threads the two together, and what the two worlds owe to one another. ” Full Review
The Prom
The Prom proudly and easily surpassing its deceivingly stale title, reinventing the musical comedy wheel with stupendous charm, humor and a whole wagon full of heart and cleverness…Hilariously spot on lyrics overflows the punch bowl with smart and sassy songs one after the other, glorified by magnificent performances, and a heartfelt message of love, connection, and inclusion…A full throttle joy to behold.” Full Review 
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Glenda Jackson, Alison Pill, Laurie Metcalf in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe.
“A cast made in acting heaven…The phenomenal Jackson…The magnificent Metcalf…The wonderful Pill…Beautifully resurrected play, directed with perfection by Mantello…Metcalf’s facial expressions and body language deserve an award unto itself, telling us stories that go far beyond what is said…Pill does wonders with what she is given, but it is in the second half where her true effervescence exists…But it is Jackson who you can barely take your eyes off. She is superb.” Full Review 
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Andrew R. Butler & Stacey Sargeant. Photo by Ben Arons Photography.
“Provocative and devastatingly smart…You will no doubt be blown away. And I mean that in the best possible way as I attempt within this review to reveal nothing except an idea of the electric magnificence that explodes from that cramped stage…It’s a deeply immersive weaving of rebel politics and simple passion for existence sung from a futuristic time. It’s drenched in old American folk music directed with style and emotional connectivity.” Full Review 
0793_Bryan Cranston and the cast in NETWORK, Photo by Jan Versweyveld, 2018
“It’s devilishly brilliant in construct and design, formulating the studio wind up energy with a blood pumping authenticity…The play falters a bit midway through, loosing some of its time clock countdown adrenaline…The out front dramatics beamed in from outside slice us a bit too far from the emotional core, distracting us from the true cause, but as a piece of modern theater, Ivo Van Hove, and the brilliant craftsmanship of video designer Tal Yarden rises magnificently center stage.” Full Review 
I Was Most Alive with YouWritten by Craig Lucas Directed by Tyne Rafaeli Director of Artistic Sign Language, Sabrina Dennison
(L to R) Marianna Bassham (Astrid), Michael Gaston (Ash), Russell Harvard (Knox), Tad Cooley (Farhad). I Was Most Alive With You. Photo by Joan Marcus.
“The level of conceptual thought and emotional storytelling align perfectly in Lucas’s new devastatingly good play…It leads you down a twisting and emotional road attempting to make sense out of chaos, holding your hand tightly but keeping the upcoming vista out of sight just enough that the ending remains unknown…This vehicle, that is so well constructed that it drives as smooth as one could hope…The only thing one can say when the lights come on…is ‘Wow’.” Full Review 
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Tom Souhrada, Adam Heller. Popcorn Falls. All photos by Monique Carboni.
Popcorn Falls, wildly and most wonderfully directed with brilliance and bravado by Christian Borle had me right where the show wants me, because its smarts exist in that very opening messiness, and that hook is precisely what makes this play by James Hindman such a tremendous joy and surprise…For a hilarious comedy, it truly is wonderfully detailed and drenched in emotion while never losing its wink and wet nod to the theatre audience.” Full Review 
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Mark Addy, Sally Rogers. Hangmen. Photo by Ahron R. Foster.
“The first scene throws us quite quickly into the dark world…It’s a tense and electric scene, layered in twisted humor…’Hangmen’ packs a powerful and dark humored punch that keeps you dangling on the edge of your seat…McDonagh’s writing shines as bright as the gallows is dark and deadly…Surprising us with a few unexpected, dynamic, and sometimes hard to swallow orchestrations and twists, all the while engaging us completely with a breathless and ferocious relish.” Full Review 
Anna Holbrook, Matthew Montelongo and Ryan Spahn. Photo by Carol Rosegg (2)
Lou Liberatore, Ryan Spahn (seated), Matthew Montelongo, Leland Wheeler. Daniel’s Husband. Photo: Carol Rosegg.
“On second viewing, the knowledge of where this piece is heading did alter the experience, but I wouldn’t say for the worse. It gave me insight into the shimmers of what was coming, weaved most delicately into the upholstery…’Daniel’s Husband’ expertly walks us through the complicated world where some hard fought human equality rights were won, but not desired by all…The writing is clearly defined, although moments feel a tad scripted.” Full Review 
Heidi Schreck and Mike Iveson in WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME at New York Theatre Workshop, Photo by Joan Marcus
Heidi Schreck, Mike Iveson. What the Constitution Means to Me. Photo by Joan Marcus.
“Powerful evocative new play…As directed with a free-flowing and creative hand…it hits us deep and sharp, almost as complicated as the ripples of distrust and pain that strike through Schreck…The effortless grace of Schreck, pulling hard from her past experiences and history, solidifies the experience in such a compelling and moving way that one can’t help but be moved…I applaud Schreck for giving us a debate that feels so pure and required.”Full Review 
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Will Roland and George Salazar. BE MORE CHILL.
photo by MARIA BARANOVA.
“It deserves every bit of the hyper hype it has accumulated…It’s a young and feisty ‘Mean Girls’ musical, mixed with the Sci-Fi out of this world ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, with a light outsider touch of a humorous ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ layered on top of its catchy soundtrack. With super strong and festive music and lyrics…and a compelling and comical book…This amazingly funny and charming show delivers the goods.” Full Review 
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Gary Marachek, Peter Saide, Lauren Molina, Nick Wyman, Connor Ryan, Sarah Parnicky. Desperate Measures. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“Hilariously silly but fun new musical…Opens with a surprisingly smart and funny bang…With solid music direction and orchestrations by David Hancock Turner and a smartly directed and choreographed good time by Bill Castellino the musical production giddily gallops forward, taking a convoluted Shakespearian text and improving on it. I never thought I’d say that, but ‘Measure for Measure’ mixed with Mel Brooks and a melodic musical score creates one great time at the dance hall.” Full Review 
TST0155r_Michael Urie in TORCH SONG
Honorable Mention: Torch SongBroadway 
As I didn’t get to see it on Broadway this year, but reviewed it when it played on the off-Broadway Second Stage Theatre.  Back in November of 2017, I wrote: “Ruehl matches Urie’s Arnold as if they were truly related. Their entanglement is beyond explanation…The play’s true vulnerability lies in the honest depiction of its characters and their struggles with those others that hold that special place in their heart, courtesy of the exacting direction by Moisés Kaufman…It remains, most definitely and defiantly, a profound, hilarious, and deeply affecting experience. One that will be remembered for a lifetime.” Full Review 
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