Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best of 2012

2012 provided a very interesting year of theater. On the Broadway front, musicals and plays that transferred over seemed to have the best success (Peter and the Starcatcher, Once, Newsies, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, etc.). While new pieces seemed to falter. Meanwhile Off-Broadway, heavy hitting dramas of all sorts (Tribes, A Map of Virtue, Uncle Vanya, etc.) were highly praised. But here's my list of five of the best productions of the year.

1. Cock (The Duke)
If you read Mike Bartlett's "dirty" titled play about love, sexuality, and the human relationship, you can imagine an elaborate production with multi-location sets and an abundance of costumes. But when you see this production, you don't get that. Instead you get a brilliant production where there is nothing but you (sitting in stadium seating in the round) and the actors reciting words via acting exercises where you get the privilege to hear Bartlett's biting and smart script. Cory Michael Smith offers one of the best performances of the year as John, the man at the center of the drama.

2. Clybourne Park (Broadway)
Clybourne Park has a very special place in my heart as I was a part of the original Off-Broadway production at Playwrights Horizons. And when I got to see the Broadway production, I realized how lucky I was. Bruce Norris's Pulitzer Winner deserved all the accolades it received. Pam MacKinnon, who is set to be one of the premiere directors in America, guided a fabulous ensemble, all of whom gave spectacular performances.

3. Restoration Comedy (The Flea)
Theater as a social event is back! And all thanks to Ed Sylvanus Iskandar and the talented company of Restoration Comedy. The play about love and sexiness was the season's best party (or Kiki as the kids say), brought to life in full-force with a perfect blend of period and modern-day design complimented by the most heart you'll find from any ensemble in New York.

4. P.S. Jones and the Frozen City (terraNOVA Collective)
 Ever wonder what a comic book that was brought to life would really look like? Robert Askins' clever and smart P.S. Jones and the Frozen City follows the journey of a young kid looking for hope in a new world. With the aid of a great cast and some amazing puppetry, a new form of theater is surely on the rise.

5. In Masks Outrageous and Austere (The Culture Project)
Didn't see that one coming, did ya? In a year that has brought us an abundance of Tennessee Williams comes his last, uncompleted play that is his answer to absurdism and existentialism. Filled with a bizarre love triangle, an almost robotic security team, and the most outrageous neighbors you could find, In Masks Outrageous and Austere was an underrated play with a top-notch design and experience like none other.