This year, I saw a total of 99 shows: here locally, in LA and San Diego, and in NYC and NJ. Of all the shows I've seen, here are my choices for...
Top 10 Favorite Shows of 2010:
10. Ordinary Days - This was the first LA musical I saw of the year. The show was SUCH a sweet production which basically follows 4 individuals in NYC as they deal with everyday things in life. The show aims (it seems) to highlight the beauty in the simple everyday interactions of people. How lives can intertwine and connections can be made and how "Ordinary Days" can turn into "Extraordinary Days" just with a simple turn of events. LOVED it... and I cried - which was VERY unexpected... When Nancy Anderson sang her final song... tears just streamed down my face. Very touching, and the best part? David Burnham... he was wonderful and his voice? OMG... gorgeous. This had to be included in my top 10 favorite of the year.
9. Daddy Long Legs – Ironically, this was the last LA musical I saw of the year. This show was a beautiful new musical about the life of an orphan, Jerusha Abbott, who received a college tuition and a chance at life outside of the orphanage where she grew up, from the anonymous donation of a wealthy man. One of the conditions of the donation is that she could never know the identity of the donor, but must write letters on a regular basis to him to let him know of her progress in school. The musical is the exchange of letters and the relationship between the two that begins to form. Megan McGinnis and Robert Hancock are wonderful in the roles. The music is gorgeous, the book heartfelt and touching, and the production in general, just wonderful.
8. Orphans’ Home Cycle Parts 1-3 – Horton Foote’s masterpiece - nine hours of possibly some of the finest writing, staging, and acting that I have seen all year. Loved it and it introduced me to the incredible talents of Bill Heck who played the central character, Horace who we see grow up from a 12 year old who just lost his father and is sent away to work on a plantation. We follow him through life as he grows up, falls in love, and has a family of his own... and though nine hours may seem like a lot, the quality of the production, the terrific acting of the cast, and the incredible staging made me want to go back and see another 9 hours. Incredible piece of theatre. So glad I saw it.
7. Things As They Are – This was a new musical, staged for the New York Musical Festival that centered around the life of Photo-journalist, Dorothea Lange. LOVED the use of projection screens to show Ms. Lange’s actual photos as Garrett Long (who was INCREDIBLE as Dorothea) took photos of the actors on stage. The combination of the history of the piece, my love for and interest in Dorothea Lange (I had studied her when I was in school due to her involvement in photographing the Japanese American internment camps) and the beautiful story and music that was woven into the piece made it a great tribute to an amazing woman. Definitely one of my favorites of 2010.
6. The Story of My Life – This was a beautiful musical staged in the tiny, intimate Lillian Theatre by the Havok Theatre Company. It was a heartfelt story about the lives of two friends, told through a series of stories. Chad Borden and Robert Townsend were magnificent in the leading roles and were so affecting, I couldn’t help but burst into tears during particularly poignant moments. It was a lovely show and set in such an intimate setting, made it all the more personal. Loved it.
5. 1776 – My all time favorite musical staged by Musical Theatre West and truly one of the best productions of the show that I’ve seen. In part, due to the incredible portrayal of John Adams by Steve Glaudini… he was the very first Adams that I’ve seen who showed a more human, vulnerable side to the character and brought a whole new dimension to the role. I literally teared up whenever he was on stage with Tami (who played Abigail Adams to perfection!) Such an amazing production, the cast, and the interpretation of the characters really made it one of the best productions of 1776 that I think I’ve ever seen.
4. Yellow – This is the latest play from a favorite playwright of mine, Del Shores. I saw it during the 2nd preview and it completely blew me away. The realism, the emotions, the humor… I was literally taken on a journey throughout the show and by the end, I felt personally affected by the story – almost as if I had known the family and spent a year with them. By the end of the show, I was literally sobbing… The cast was incredible and it was truly one of the best new plays I’d seen in LA all year.
3. Time Stands Still – This show is absolutely one of the most gorgeous straight plays that I have ever seen. The show is so powerful and real that it truly feels like I’m eavesdropping on personal conversations and not actually watching a staged play. Laura Linney is wonderful, as is Brian d’Arcy James (who I have grown MUCH more respect for after having seen him in this… man can he act!), Eric Bogosian, and even Christina Ricci. Loved this SO much, I went back to see it a second time – and it affected me as much, if not more, the second time I saw it. Just beautiful and real… Absolutely gorgeous.
2. La Cage – Of course, this should come as a surprise to no one that this is one of my favorite shows of the year. Quite simply, what makes this production stand out from the others is its stars. Douglas Hodge’s performance as Albin is simply amazing and worth the price of admission alone – he’s heartbreaking, funny, inspiring, just a revelation, really – and Kelsey Grammer is the perfect compliment to him giving Georges the sensitivity, humor, and romance needed for the role. Not to mention that the Cagelles are quite simply the most gorgeous, most talented dancers I have ever seen, and though Veanne Cox is gone, she and Christine Andreas, Robin DeJesus, AJ Shively, Bill Nolte, Chris Hoch, and Dale Hensley… I mean, they are all so wonderful. I have not loved an entire cast like this since… oh, MEMPHIS… maybe. ;) But yes, it’s my #2 for the year. LOVE this show.
1. Tigers Be Still – Quite honestly THE BEST show I saw in 2010 which is quite surprising since it was staged in a tiny venue, with no real name stars, and written by a playwright I’d never heard of. But, it was the single most moving, fresh, funny, surprisingly insightful show I saw all year. I laughed until I had tears in my eyes, and then cried my eyes out at the end. It was touching and moving beyond belief AND proves that you don’t need to cast BIG name stars, have HUGE expensive sets, or the biggest venue… the best productions are the ones that touch the heart and this one certainly did that! By far my favorite theatrical experience of 2010.
What an INCREDIBLE year in theatre - it was SO hard to pick just 10 when everything I saw was wonderful... :)