Monday, December 31, 2018

10 Favorite Broadway Shows of 2018


We were fortunate to have seen 20+ shows this year. Here are our 10 favorites, from 10 - 1:

10. The Boys in the Band

An excellent production of a historically important gay play, it was a provocative, exciting mix of cringy-retro and surprising timeliness. And that cast...

9. Carousel

Perhaps I was at an advantage having never seen any version of the show before, but I found it to a beautiful and emotional experience. The score was decent, too. 😎

8. The Waverly Gallery

Sometimes, you just know when you are in the presence of true greatness. Such was the case when witnessing the stunning realism (and profound sadness) of Elaine May's brilliant turn.

7. Three Tall Women

A true 3-for-the-price-of-1, these three women were extraordinary. See above and substitute Glenda Jackson

6. Angels in America

It's a masterpiece. It was perfectly cast, brilliantly directed, and visually incredible. It hasn't lost a smidgen of its relevancy.

5. Come From Away

It took us a while to get to this show, but it was so worth the wait. The tagline calls it "remarkable." It is that and then some. A feel-good show that heals. Rare. Deserving of its continued success.

4. The Prom

You'll laugh, you'll cry. Get your Drowsy Chaperone and Dear Evan Hansen fix in one hell of an old-fashioned modern musical comedy. That's right. Comedy. A must-see.

3. Head Over Heels

I won't bore you with another love letter to this gem of a show. I loved everything about it, and am already mourning it's much-too-soon departure next Sunday.

2. Once On This Island

The only thing about it that disappointed me: I didn't get to see it more than once. Everything about it was so brilliantly conceived and executed (more soon, please Michael Arden!). It stays with you in all the right ways. I will miss it.

1. The Band's Visit

I was so thrilled with its much-deserved 10 Tony Awards, you'd have thought I was a producer! Quiet, charming and so important. This is living proof that we can all get along. All we have to do is open ourselves, give generously and receive with grace. And now we know who Umm Kulthum was. Saw this three times, and will surely be back.


Friday, December 28, 2018

The Friday 5: 5 Top Breakthrough Performances of 2018

Our last Friday 5 of 2018 celebrates the 5 Breakthrough Performances by an Actor and the 5 Breakout Performances by an Actress from the last 365 days! These are those performances that we feel will be seen as benchmarks in the careers of established actors or as the performance that puts a younger actor on the map. In all cases, these are 10 performers we look forward to seeing on stage for years to come!


ERIC ANDERSON as Happy Man/Mr. Thompson in Pretty Woman: The Musical

A long time Broadway utility player, he's been a part of many Broadway shows. With this pair of roles he really breaks through, though. A nice touch on the part of the show's creative team, he takes this opportunity and runs with it. I knew he had this in him!

ANDREW GARFIELD as Prior Walter in Angels in America

Every moment he was on the stage, my mouth was agape. A whirlwind of emotion, excess and restraint, he disappeared in the role. The result was one of the best performances of the year - and of a lifetime.

ALEX NEWELL as Asaka in Once On This Island

People are still talking about his performance of "Mama Will Provide." I will be forever grateful that he was a true team player in a true team show. That million watt smile lit up the entire Circle in the Square Theatre and warmed everyone in the room.

JIM PARSONS as Michael in The Boys in the Band

Sheldon Cooper who? You knew going in that he was funny, but that he has such amazing dramatic chops was a wonderful surprise. His performance caused us to feel a full range of emotion, from shock to loathing to pity (usually all at once). All of the feeling caused by one performance is a sure sign of a breakthrough!

ETHAN SLATER as SpongeBob SquarePants in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical

This is one that got away from me. He made the list on the strength and conviction of your opinions! That charisma and fearlessness are sure to make him a star to watch for in the years to come.


LAUREN AMBROSE as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady

Everything about her performance was loverly (sorry, I had to). I knew she was a great actress, but I had no idea about her singing. Truth is, she has made her mark as a musical theater star.

CAITLIN KINNUNEN as Emma in The Prom

I remember thinking she was good in a small role in The Bridges of Madison County. I remember wanting to see The Prom to see Beth, Christopher, Brooks and Angie. I left the Longacre that day thinking about her.

KATRINA LENK as Dina in The Band's Visit

I was mesmerized and smitten from the moment she strolled out of her cafe until she took he final bow. Mysterious and sensual, she brought such a light and strength to the whole show. I may never look at watermelon the same way again, either.

LINDSAY MENDEZ as Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel

I've always been a fan of hers, but she really took it to a whole new level this time. Her spunk and sense of humor were joyous; her vocals sublime. It'll be nice to call her Tony-winner from now on!

CHRISTIANI PITTS as Ann Darrow in King Kong

She is a triple threat. Lots of people are. Not many people can be a triple threat on the cavernous Broadway Theatre stage, surrounded by huge screens, large scenery and a big cast, and STILL stand out! Of course, the fact that she does nearly every scene playing to a two story, two ton ape puppet, AND makes us feel all the feels is remarkable.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Mr. and Ms. Broadway 2018

All year long, we celebrate the people of Broadway who influence, create and represent the very best of the art form. Mr. and Mrs. Broadway 2018 are the very definition of the best. This time we chose two people whose reach is far beyond the 41 theatres on Broadway. We are all better for their having touched our lives.


David Yazbek won a much-deserved (and overdue) Tony Award this year for The Band's Visit. But the real accomplishment, to us, was that his music brought us a world that proves that despite our differences, we can learn from and embrace different cultures when we show humanity toward one another. A powerful, desperately need statement in this era of hatred and chaos. Thank you.


People much more eloquent than I am have said it better, but the loss this year of Marin Mazzie really hit me hard. But there is so much comfort to be found in knowing that she touched so many lives onstage and off. Her strength is inspirational. Gone but not forgotten. Our thoughts are with her husband Jason and her family always.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Best of 2018 JKTS Awards: The Performances

The Performances
(17 Awards)

After taking a couple of seasons off, we are super excited to re-start our annual tradition! Up first, our awards for the media and technical aspects of the Broadway theater experience. Occasionally, the shows we saw that weren't on Broadway are included, too. They were: Chess (Kennedy Center), Passion (Virginia's Signature Theatre), Moulin Rouge! (pre-Broadway engagement), and Sweeney Todd (off-Broadway). And the winner is...

Braving the Elements Award - Play: Denise Gough vs the Snow in Angels in America

As if learning two long plays wasn't enough! She had to face a lot, not the least of which was a snow storm on Antarctica.

Braving the Elements Award - Musical: The Storytellers vs the Ravages of a Hurricane in Once On This Island

Michael Arden's stunning production immersed us in a storm ravaged tropical locale, but the cast battled all of the elements - wind, rain, sand, water and fire. All while singing and dancing. Beautiful and amazing.

Best Villain - Play: Nathan Lane as Roy Cohn in Angels in America

For me, a little bit of funny Nathan Lane is more than enough. But I couldn't get enough of dramatic Nathan Lane. He was vicious, frightening and heart-breaking. All at once.

Best Villain - Musical: Hugh Panaro and Carolee Carmello as Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

In a show full of villains, this dynamic duo takes the cake pie! What a pair - intense, funny, and scary as hell. And so perilously close to the audience.

Best Production Number: Moulin Rouge! - All of it!

The entire show is an extravaganza. Get a ticket.

Unsung Hero - Performance - Play: Joan Allen as Ellen Fine in The Waverly Gallery

Everyone leaves the theater thinking about Elaine May (rightly so). But Joan Allen's measured, powerful turn as daughter, wife and mother stays with you for weeks after. Trust me on that.

Unsung Hero - Performance - Musical: Michael Potts as Principal Hawkins in The Prom

He's not part of the lesbian couple, and he isn't the zany Broadway fish out of water, either. He's just the glue that keeps both stories together. And his duet with Beth Leavel is an embarrassment of riches.

Best Performance in a Dual Role: Eric Anderson as Happy Man/Mr. Thompson in Pretty Woman: The Musical

To be honest, Eric Anderson never really made in impression on me, not even when he led the dismal Soul Doctor a few seasons ago. All of that changed when he transformed back and forth between his two roles in Pretty Woman. Bonus: he gets to tear the place down 8 times a week with the fabulous Orfeh.

Best Replacement: Tamyra Gray as Papa Ge in Once On This Island

I loved every single second of her intense, brooding performance.

Best "Supporting" Cast - Play: The Angel Shadows in Angels in America

A brilliant, earthy and stunningly human effect, this group brought the Angel to life in unsettling, purely theatrical terms.

Best "Supporting: Cast - Musical: The King's Company in King Kong

Not since Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has there been so much death-defying flying, climbing, pushing and pulling. Watching these man and women bring Kong to life was a privilege.

Best Post-Curtain Call: TIE: Come From Away and The Band's Visit

In both cases, the post curtain call concerts did what I thought was impossible. People weren't running up the aisles to leave. (If you did leave either show as the company bowed, you really missed out.

Best Broadway on TV: Rise, NBC

Spring Awakening, high school drama and Stephanie J. Block? I miss it already.

Star On The Rise Award: Isabelle McCalla - The Prom

Her understated, brave performance is all the more remarkable considering all of the excess and mayhem going on around her. That is real star quality.

Welcome to Broadway Award: Samantha Barks - Pretty Woman: The Musical

We are so glad you made it across the pond at last. It was worth the wait.

Out of Retirement Award: Karen Olivo - Chess, Moulin Rouge!

Am I mistaken? Doesn't retirement mean you stop working and enjoy life? Apparently for Ms. Olivo enjoying life means working after all. Thank goodness.

"I'm Still Here" Award: TIE: Glenda Jackson, Three Tall Women; Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery; Dame Diana Rigg, My Fair Lady

Dolly may be back where she belongs, but so are Glenda, Elaine and Diana. How lucky we are, and all in the same year, too!

Congratulations to every performer on, off and nowhere near Broadway! Thank you all.

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