Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Decadeworthy - Theatre of the Decade

I've always loved theatre but I didn't get a chance to see all that much at the beginning of this decade. Then I kind of went nuts with it in the past few years, seeing a ton of shows mostly in the last 2 years of my life (and more than I had seen in my life up until then!). So this list is a little skewed toward the later half of the decade.

Here's my Top 25 picks for Theatre of the Decade (in alphabetical order):

A Chorus Line (Curran Theater - San Francisco 2006, Schoenfeld Theater - Broadway 2006)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Donmar Warehouse - London 2009)
Avenue Q (John Golden Theatre - Broadway (finally saw it in 2006))
Ballet Shorts - Emergence, Glass Pieces, 24 Preludes by Chopin, Rooster, Watch Her, The Fiddle and the Drum (National Ballet of Canada at Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre - Toronto 2007-2009)
Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace Theatre - London 2005)
Black Watch (Varsity Arena - Toronto 2008, St Ann's Warehouse - Brooklyn 2008)
The Car Man (Old Vic Theatre - London 2001)
Cirque Du Soleil - Ovo (Le Grande Chapiteau - Toronto 2009)
Company (Barrymore Theatre - Broadway 2007)
De La Guarda/FuerzaBruta (Daryl Roth Theatre - New York 2000/2008)
Giant (Signature Theatre - Arlington, VA 2009)
Hair (Delacorte Theatre - Central Park New York 2008, Al Hirschfeld Theatre - Broadway 2009)
The History Boys (Broadhurst Theatre - Broadway 2006)
The Importance of Being Earnest (Stratford Festival Theatre - Stratford, ON 2009)
The Italian Straw Hat (National Ballet of Canada at Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre - Toronto 2008)
Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Signature Theatre - Arlington, VA 2008)
La Boheme (Broadway Theatre - Broadway 2002)
Metamorphoses (Circle in the Square Theatre - Broadway 2002)
Next Fall (Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Playwrights Horizons - Off-Broadway 2009)
Parade (Donmar Warehouse - London 2007, Mark Taper Forum - Los Angeles 2009)
Passing Strange (Belasco Theatre - Broadway 2008)
Ragtime (Kennedy Centre - Washington, DC and Neil Simon Theatre - Broadway 2009)
Ruined (Manhattan Theatre Club at NY City Centre Stage 1 - New York - Off-Broadway 2009)
Spring Awakening (Eugene O'Neill Theatre - Broadway 2007)
Urinetown (Henry Miller's Theatre - Broadway 2001, CanStage Bluma Appel Theatre - Toronto 2004)

The Top 25 Theatre of the Decade In More Detail (as well as the Best New Musicals, and Worst of the Decade) continued below:

A Chorus Line (Curran Theater - San Francisco 2006, Schoenfeld Theater - Broadway 2006)
Music by Marvin Hamlisch, Lyrics by Edward Kleban, Book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, Originally Directed, Choreographed and Conceived by Michael Bennett, Revival Directed by Bob Avian and Choreography Re-staged by Baayork Lee
Original San Francisco Review, Original New York Review

Many criticized it for being a soulless carbon copy of the original but since I never saw that one, this still blew me away, especially with the original revival cast (many who have since gone on to bigger things on Broadway). The dancing was spectac, and the cast they assembled was mostly great, especially Natalie Cortez, Tony Yazbeck, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Mari Davi, Heather Parcells, Jason Tam, Chryssie Whitehead, Jeffrey Howard Schecter, Tyler Hanes, Deidre Goodwin, Brad Anderson, James T. Lane, Paul McGill and Yuka Takara.

A Streetcar Named Desire (Donmar Warehouse - London 2009)
Written by Tennessee Williams, Directed by Rob Ashford
Original Review

Everyone talked about Cate Blanchett and the Sydney Theatre Company doing this play, but it was the little seen (mainly due to the TINY size of the theatre) Donmar production that blew me away, with a superb Rachel Weisz leading an impeccable ensemble that truly worked great together in perfect balance. Elliot Cowan defined "sexy beast" while Ruth Wilson nailed the uneasy balance of being Stella. Rob Ashford and set designer Christopher Oram made the New Orleans story come alive and you could truly feel the steaming heat and the sweat pouring out of these characters as the friction builds in that tiny apartment.

Avenue Q (John Golden Theatre - Broadway 2003 (Saw in 2006))
Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Book by Jeff Whitty, Directed by Jason Moore, Choreographed by Ken Roberson
Original Review, National Tour Review

It may be a musical with naughty puppets, but the foam creatures easily won our hearts with the most truthful and reflective songs on our generation. Because yes, "The Internet is for Porn" and "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" and "What Do You Do With A B.A. In English" anyways? Did I mention it's freaking hilarious and strangely one of the most purposeful musicals of the decade?

Ballet Shorts - Emergence, Glass Pieces, Watch Her, 24 Preludes by Chopin, Rooster, The Fiddle and the Drum (National Ballet of Canada at Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre - Toronto 2007-2009)
Emergence - Choreographed by Crystal Pite, Original Score by Owen Belton - Original Review
Glass Pieces - Choreographed by Jerome Robbins, Music by Phillip Glass - Original Review
Watch Her - Choreographed by Aszure Barton, Music by Lera Auerbach - Original Review
24 Preludes by Chopin - Choreographed by Marie Chouinard, Music by Frédéric Chopin - Original Review
Rooster - Choreographed by Christopher Bruce, Music by The Rolling Stones - Original Review
The Fiddle and the Drum - Alberta Ballet Company on Tour - Choreographed by Jean Grand-Maître, Music by Joni Mitchell - Original Review

Some of these are already classics (like Rooster, Glass Pieces, 24 Preludes by Chopin) but Artistic Director Karen Kain has been quite adventurous in pulling together some of the most modern and inspiring pieces together from the National Ballet of Canada's repertoire and continuously placing them in the forefront amongst the more typical ballet fare. These ballet shorts aren't about tutus anymore, and breaks the stereotype of the stuffy ballet with emotionally charged and exciting modern dances. With new commissions like Watch Her and Emergence and inviting the Albert Ballet (working with Joni Mitchell) to present The Fiddle and the Drum (above), Canadian ballet definitely has had an exciting few years thanks to Kain.

Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace Theatre - London 2005)
Music by Elton John, Book and Lyrics by Lee Hall, Directed by Stephen Daldry, Choreographed by Peter Darling
Review from New York

A very British musical with Elton John creating folksy British music to accompany a British tale with a universal underdog story. Not everything works perfectly, and the show is very dependent on a young talent to impress the audience as Billy Elliot, but there are moments of brilliance (especially the "Solidarity" sequence). I first saw it in London with one of the three original Billy's, and James Lomas (above) blew me away with his talents, and while the New York Billy I saw was good, Lomas really had THE triple threat (dancing, singing, acting) talent.

Black Watch (Varsity Arena - Toronto 2008, St Ann's Warehouse - Brooklyn 2008)
Written by Gregory Burke, Director by John Tiffany
Original Toronto Review, Brooklyn Review

A haunting theatrical explosion using every trick in the book, melding a play with music, dance, choreography, and special effects to tell the simple tales of the Black Watch soldiers on their last mission in Iraq. Unbelievably moving and amazingly staged, the show by the National Theatre of Scotland truly uses the theatrical artform at its best.

The Car Man (Old Vic Theatre - London 2001)
Choreographed by Matthew Bourne, Based on Georges Bizet's Carmen

A sexy retelling of Bizet's Carmen (mixed with A Postman Always Rings Twice) using solely music and movement. The cast of dancers were sizzling and heightened the already dramatic story with the boldness of dance and the body as a vehicle for storytelling.

Cirque Du Soleil - OVO (Le Grande Chapiteau - Toronto 2009)
Written, Choreographed and Directed by Deborah Colker
Original Review

Cirque shows are always dazzling and surreal with their strange "storylines" and mood music but OVO is their first show directed by a dance choreographer and a female and it brings a warm clarity to the Cirque brand. It's probably the most literal show I've seen from Cirque with the story of the insect world and an egg, but Colker also manages to smoothen the entire series of circus acts to flow nicely from one showpiece to another with a dance choreography that unites all the acts and characters together, making OVO feel fully whole from all the Cirque shows I've seen.

Company (Barrymore Theatre - Broadway 2007)
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by George Furth, Directed by John Doyle,
Original Review

A single man, the women he dates, and his coupled friends who look upon his fate. While I saw other great productions of my favorite Sondheim musical, John Doyle, using his now imfamous minimalist/economical staging of doubling the actors as the orchestra, truly mined his gimmick to work within the themes of Bobby and the company he keeps. A tremendous Raúl Esparza leads a super talented cast juggling the music AND the words of Sondheim around a classy bare bones modern set as Bobby slowly bares his soul to us the audience. We are in good company indeed.

De La Guarda/FuerzaBruta (Daryl Roth Theatre - New York 2000/2008)
De La Guarda - Directed by Pichon Baldinu and Diqui James
FuerzaBruta - Created by Diqui James; music by Gaby Kerpel - Original Review

I saw De La Guarda in 2000 even though it opened before the decade began, so I'm combining it with their latest show FuerzaBruta, both a theatre experience to behold and one difficult to explain. Part Cirque du Soleil, part rave, with you the audience standing right in the centre of it all. Nothing short of exhilarating.

Giant (Signature Theatre - Arlington, VA 2009)
Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa, Book by Sybille Pearson, Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, Directed by Jonathan Butterell. Choreographed by Ernesto Alonzo Palma
Original Review

A quiet intimate epic musical 4 hours long, telling the tale of a Texan rancher Bick as he woos his lady, the family the make, and the interloper Jed, all as it weaves through decades of Texas and the historical changes (and the Mexican integration). Based on the book by Edna Ferber (made more famous by the movie), this new musical is more chamber in style but epic in scope, with luscious yet accessible music by Michael John LaChiusa a stylishly directed by Jonathan Butterell. Ashley Robinson and Lewis Cleale (above with Morgan) are fantastic as Jed and Bick, while Betsy Morgan shines as the woman in the heart of it all.

Hair (Delacorte Theatre - Central Park New York 2008, Al Hirschfeld Theatre - Broadway 2009)
Music by Galt MacDermott, Book and Lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, Directed by Diane Paulus, Choreographed by Karole Armitage
Public in the Park Review, Broadway Review

Diane Paulus gets things so right in a musical that has for years, been revived in so many wrong ways. With an energetic cast and energetic choreography by Karole Armitage, Paulus and company brought life back to Hair with a sexy political verve just as America was ready for some change. Playing in the Park brought the innocence and hippie nature to full breathe, but the move to Broadway only solidified the anger and sadness beneath the story of love, peace and getting high. Yet the production is joyous in spirit and literally gets the audiences dancing on their feet.

The History Boys (Broadhurst Theatre - Broadway 2006)
Written by Alan Bennett, Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Original Review

A delicious play of wit and reason as a class full of boys prepare for their A-level exams.

The Importance of Being Earnest (Stratford Festival Theatre - Stratford, ON 2009)
Written by Oscar Wilde, Directed by Brian Bedford
Original Review

A smart AND frothy production that pits Brian Bedford in serious drag as Lady Bracknell against Mike Shara and Ben Carlson's Algernon and John (Jack) Worthing (respectively) in the delightful comedy of mistaken identity and class. Director Bedford knows the importance of balancing all the right elements together in perfect harmony to create comic perfection in this absolutely splendid revival at Stratford. (Rumour has it that it may be moved on further in a transfer of some sorts, and hopefully that is true, and if it isn't, maybe this will start that rumour to make it true).

The Italian Straw Hat (National Ballet of Canada at Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre - Toronto 2008)
Choreography by James Kudelka, Music by Michael Torke, Libretto by Timothy Luginbuhl (Based on the play by Eugene Labiche and Marc Michel)
Original Review

Who knew ballet could be this hysterically funny? A ballet version of the play The Italian Straw Hat manages to create a very funny comedy without any words and with a strong company of dancers, including the always amazing and expressive Rebekah Rimsay and Piotr Stancyk, the ballet showed me a whole different side to dance, using the body as a comical device. The sets and costumes were beautiful and stylistic and the movements were precise in both technique and comic timing.

Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Signature Theatre - Arlington, VA 2008)
Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb, Book by Terrence McNally Based on the novel by Manuel Puig, Directed by Eric Schaeffer, Choreographed by Karma Camp
Original Review

A dark and sexy regional staging with Broadway veterans Hunter Foster (Urinetown) and Will Chase (High Fidelity) as Argentine prisoners forced to share a cell together. Foster's exquisite Molina dreams of the Spider Woman (a wonderous Natascia Diaz, above) while a solid macho Chase as Valentin rebuffs Molina's advances. Director Schaeffer and Set Designer Adam Koch creates a chilling yet evocative show that lets Foster and Chase create a dark emotionally compelling core to a swirling musical dream fantasy imagined by Molina.

La Bohème (Broadway Theatre - Broadway 2002)
Music by Giacomo Puccini, Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, Directed by Baz Luhrmann

I happened to sit in the front row and it was like I had been propelled into Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge! with sets and costumes by wife Catherine Martin. The extravagant Broadway staging of one of Opera's classics, with easy to follow surtitles (cleverly placed throughout the set) and a young and sexy cast (plucked from around the Opera world) made Opera accessible and enjoyable for the Broadway masses. A stunning Opera brought to life by stunning staging by Baz.

Metamorphoses (Circle in the Square Theatre - Broadway 2002)
Written and Directed by Mary Zimmerman, Based on the myths of Ovid

You will get wet on this ride of Ovid's myths! While I didn't know much about Ovid's myths and thought this re-telling would be confusing and difficult to follow, Mary Zimmerman brilliantly brought century old tales to life around a giant pool and made it easily understandable and more importantly, extremely entertaining.

Next Fall (Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Playwrights Horizons - Off-Broadway 2009)
Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, Directed by Sheryl Kaller
Original Review

Two unlikely men fall in love in this small and intimate new play that moves beyond stereotypes (or twists it at least) and into this very funny, very compelling drama that moves to Broadway this coming Spring. A perfect cast of character actors (full of people you've all seen before but have no idea what their names are, including Patrick Breen, Patrick Heusinger, Connie Ray, and Maddie Corman) breathes life into this smart and wonderful new play by Naugffts, cleverly economically directed by Kaller.

Parade (Donmar Warehouse - London 2007, Mark Taper Forum - Los Angeles 2009)
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Book by Alfred Uhry, Directed and Choreographed by Rob Ashford
Original London Review and Los Angeles Review

A truly depressing story retold as a musical, Jason Robert Brown's songs enhance the haunting injustices around the murder of Mary Faber as a Jewish man, Leo Frank, living in the south, is accused by a vengeful town looking for justice. Rob Ashford's new revival at the intimate Donmar (and re-staged in Los Angeles at the Mark Taper Forum) tightens the intense story in this re-worked revival with superb casts in both London and Los Angeles.

Passing Strange (Belasco Theatre - Broadway 2008)
Music and Lyrics by Stew, Book by Stew and Heidi Rodewall, Directed by Annie Dorsen, Choreographed by Karole Armitage
Original Review

A pulsating new musical by an unlikely group of hip musicians, Stew and his collaborators (Heidi Rodewall and Annie Dorsen) create a rocking auto-biographical theatrical staging filled with electricity (including a eye-opening fluorescent backdrop) and a surprisingly funny and oddly heartwarming tale of a young black man following and searching for his artistic impulse. It's too bad few saw the show during its short run on Broadway (or in its earlier Off-Broadway incarnation) but Spike Lee has filmed it for posterity (and airs on many PBS stations on Jan. 13th 2010).

Ragtime (Kennedy Centre - Washington, DC and Neil Simon Theatre - Broadway 2009)
Music by Stephen Flaherty, Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Book by Terrence McNally, Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, Directed and Choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge
Original Reviews

It may be an epic re-telling of the turning of the last century, but the massive themes of the human spirit remain just as relevant in this first decade of our current century. The musical has always been one of my favorites, but Marcia Milgrom Dodge strips the show down to its iron work bones and heightens the humanity in the piece in a revival no less extravagant thanks to a multi-set stage and some superb performances including Quentin Earl Darrington, Bobby Steggert and Christiane Noll as Coalhouse Walker Jr, Younger Brother and Mother (respectively).

Ruined (Manhattan Theatre Club at NY City Centre Stage 1 - New York - Off-Broadway 2009)
Written by Lynn Nottage, Directed by Kate Whoriskey

I think I sat through the entire play clutching my seat in fear. It was exhausting and literally breathtaking but Nottage's intense story was gripping and ultimately emotionally cathartic. The horrors of violence and the suffering some must endure to stay alive bring foreign politics into understandable human terms in Whoriskey's enlightening production.

Spring Awakening (Eugene O'Neill Theatre - Broadway 2007)
Music and Lyrics by Duncan Sheik, Book by Steven Sater, Directed by Michael Mayer, Choreographed by Bill T. Jones
Original Review, 2nd Review, 3rd Review, 4th Review, 5th Review, 6th Review, and 7th Review w/ new cast including Hunter Parrish, National Touring cast Review with Parry Sherman and Matt Doyle, National Touring Cast w/ Kyle Riabko Review

A bold new musical that pulsated with the beat of the teenage sexual yearnings. Not everyone has liked it, some say its overrated, while some have gone completely nuts for it. I'm most definitely in the later camp, and love the rich melodies by Duncan Sheik and enjoy the thematic moments each songs evoke on a threadbare storyline. It Touched Me deeply with its songs and emotions with outstanding performances from the future of Broadway. Evocative lighting from Kevin Adams (Passing Strange), stilted jerky choreography by Bill T. Jones (Chapel/Chapter, Fela), a beautifully simplistic set and old German costumes mixed in with modern microphones and lyrics mentioning stereos in the bedroom nicely contrast and parallel the teenage mind from differing centuries and countries. The story may be set in 1890's Germany but it could really be about teenagers now from anywhere (sadly enough).

Urinetown (Henry Miller's Theatre - Broadway 2001, CanStage Bluma Appel Theatre - Toronto 2004)
Music by Mark Hollmann, Lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, Book by Greg Kotis, Directed by John Rando, Choreographed by John Carrafa

Yes, the title may mean pee pee town but Urinetown managed to be one of the smartest musicals to emerge from this or any decade, and yet Rando's direction and Carrafa's choreography keeps it as one of the silliest and hysterically funny musicals from this or any decade. Even if the story is about the dooming state of our environment and the dark downfall of the human condition. Hollman and Kotis satirize our corporate greed and our toxic environment, and makes us laugh so hard until we realize it's no laughing matter. Simply brilliant.

Best New Musicals
Already Mentioned:
Avenue Q
Billy Elliot
Passing Strange
Spring Awakening

The Last Five Years
Grey Gardens
Act 2
[title of show]
A Catered Affair
Altar Boyz
The Visit
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
In the Heights
High School Musical
The Full Monty
Jersey Boys
The Drowsy Chaperone

Best New Plays
Already mentioned:
The History Boys
Next Fall

August: Osage County
The 39 Steps
Wig Out

Copenhagen would have made my list but even though it was part of the 2000 season in NYC, I saw it in London in 1998.

The Worst Theatre of the Decade
It's great going to the theatre a lot, but it also means you see some clunkers. Here were the 5 worst:

1. Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage (Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, 2008) - Just plain lazy and godawful. And I LOVED the movie. The stage show could have been cheesily fun, instead it was dreadful and painful to watch, and strangely, flatter than the movie. The absolute worst theatre experience since Starlight Express and an embarrassment to the word "Stage".

2. Cooped (Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, 2008) - The comedy troop Spymonkey from the UK brought their latest show to Toronto and it was just not my humour. Nor anybody elses. I will give them credit though for stopping the show to stare at a person who got up and walked out. That was actually really funny. I should have followed that guy though. At least it would have given the show another laugh.

3. We Will Rock You (Canon Theatre and Panasonic Theatre, Toronto, 2008, 2009) - The songs from Queen actually sound pretty good when theatricalized, but the story built around it deserves to be trashed like a rock stars hotel room. Ben Elton deserves all the blame here for an idiotic story with cheap laughs and an over-the-top staging that made me feel embarrassed for the actors on stage.

4. Misery (Bluma Appel Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 2008) - A pointless translation of the Stephen King book and film into a stage play that plodded along so slowly on a cheap looking set that by the time the intensity was supposed to climax, the audience could only laugh at the ridiculousness happening on stage, with bad special effects and all.

5. Fire (Bluma Appel Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 2008) - This revival of a Canadian musical that is a sort of not-so-thinly veiled account of Jerry Lee Lewis was somehow a hit with critics and audiences but I thought it was boring and cliched with over-the-top performances and some eye-rolling scenes.

Big Disappointments/Overrated Theatre of the Decade

Adding Machine - Most critics and bloggers love this musical, and I LOVED the concept, but music that is supposed to sound awful with characters who are supposed to be annoying is just plain awful and annoying. I did love the sets though.

Grey Gardens Act 1 - I know that it needs to set up the normalcy of the piece and throw in the JFK references to truly add dimension to the whole show and give the musical a greater contrast to the big change in Act 2, but did it have to be that boring and that long? One scene would have sufficed to set things up, but by re-enacting a typical parlour room drama for an entire long first act only gives us less time for the brilliant second act.

The Color Purple - I didn't hate it but I just didn't think it was that great, and it should have been more memorable with catchier songs.

The Producers - A lot of people laughed a lot. I didn't. (Tho I saw the replacements for Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick and I think that made a huge difference).

Shrek - This could have been great, but instead felt like a corporate machine trying to milk money from Broadway. It's too bad since there was a tiny bit of inspired cleverness to the book and staging, but alas, it felt flatter than the cartoon it was based on.

Spamalot - Like The Producers, by the time I saw it, it was already the replacement cast, who strangely all looked and sounded a LOT like the originals (David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry etc), but it felt like a carbon copy cast doing a carbon copy show and considering all the hype and awards, didn't live up to any of it. Mildly entertaining but that's about it.

Take Me Out - I guess hearing about a play about a closeted baseball player coming out built my expectations too much, but I found the new play almost pedantic and definitely not worth any of the hoopla (or awards). It was a nice play, but I felt it had nothing really new to say, despite the subject matter.

Wicked - I hated it the first time I saw it but have eased up with a second viewing, though I still think the ensemble songs are ridiculously staged and sung, and the book still seems to choppy.

Young Frankenstein - I laughed even less here than I did at The Producers in a show that dared to charge a top price ticket of $450. I felt bad for the talented cast and if anybody came out of this unscathed, it was Christopher Fitzgerald who managed to mine the few laughs from the show by carrying the weight of it all, all on his shoulders (can't remember which side though, it kept switching).


Decadeworthy - The Best of 2000-2009 Lists: Coming soon
SYTYCDworthy (w/ Videos) - List Format
Theatre of the Decade
Best Films of the Decade
Favorite Films of the Decade
Television of the Decade
Television of the Decade - 1 Season Wonders

Best of 2009 Lists: Coming soon
Best of Music 2009
Best of Television 2009
Best of Stage 2009
Best of Movies 2009

Previous Best-of Lists:
Best of 2008 Lists:
Best of Music 2008
Best of Television 2008
Best of Stage 2008
Best of Movies 2008
Best of Television Fall '07 - Winter '08 List

Best of 2007 Lists:
Best of Music 2007
Best of Television 2007
Best of Movies 2007
Best of Stage 2007
Best of 2007 (The Final Wrap Up)
Best of Television Fall '06 - Winter '07 List

Best of 2006 Lists:
Best of Music 2006
Best of Television 2006
Best of Movies 2006
Best of 2006
Best of Television Fall '05 - Winter '06 List

Best of 2005 Lists:
Best of Television 2005
Best of Movies 2005

Vance at


Bob said...

I saw Cate Blanchett and Rachel Weisz do their productions of "Streetcar". I saw Cate do it in New York while i saw Rachel do it in England and i will say that Rachel's production was far better in terms of performance and production. Cate Blanchett's production was in my opinion a bit stuffy and Blanchett lacks Weisz's sense of fire and humanity.

Esther said...

I am sorry I missed Urinetown. But I'm excited because I realized that The Car Man is available on DVD! It's coming from Netflix this week and I can't wait to see it!

I agree with you about Spamalot and Young Frankenstein. A few laughs but that's about it.

And thanks for encouraging/prodding me to see Black Watch. It was definitely one of my best theatre experiences, too! So inventive and real.

Linda said...

Great list. I haven't seen all of these, but I loved so many of these, like Avenue Q, Black Watch, Company, Hair, Passing Strange, Ragtime, Spring Awakening, and Urinetown. I also saw Parade at the Mark Taper Forum in October and I thought it was so well done, if extremely depressing. I do have to say, I saw We Will Rock You in London and I really enjoyed myself, even if or maybe because the story is ridiculous.

Vance said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the Donmar's ASND was superior to the more buzzed about Cate Blanchett one. (Cate was great but the whole production seemed designed as a star piece for her as opposed to properly presenting the play).

Anonymous said...

I actually loved Blanchett's Streetcar and was absolutely floored by it! She really delved deep into the character and brought out an inner strength that I haven't seen portrayed in Blanche yet. It was truly unique. I was so emotionally invested in this production as I felt Liv's set was so incredibly intimate and engaging. Instead of having the stage open and spacious, I felt this set allowed the audience to focus more on the drama instead of extraneous frills this production usually is associated with. I completely disagree with your assessment that Liv's interpretation was more intellectual, I actually felt it was more emotional, raw & naked than you've imply. But everyone will go into this production with preconceptions and expectations of what they want to see and Liv & Cate's obviously didn't meld with yours. I loved what this entire cast did with the material and don't think I'll ever see something as brilliant again in my life! It's a shame you weren't along for the ride.

Anonymous said...

It will be great to watch Billy Elliot,i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.