Monday, July 22, 2019

300 Shows: My Favorite Plays

There are a variety of reasons why, out of 300 different Broadway shows only 35 were new plays. One reason it isn't is be cause I don't like plays. I do. Narrowing them down to just ten was a challenge. As you'll see, I love a variety of plays: those that require an imagination, serious drama, slapstick comedy. The one thing all of these have in common is the playwright and creative team's the ability to transport me in ways that can't be found in any other medium.

10 FAVORITE PLAYS (Alphabetically)

Brief Encounter (2010)
Lush and romantic. And a little wacky (see above). This play was visually stunning - the use of projections and how the actors interacted with them is something I haven't seen since. The cast was superlative as well.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 (2018)
I have a strong feeling that I'd have loved this play even if I wasn't already a Harry Potter fan. Talk about transporting! I don't think I breathed the entire time. Sure there were some great special effects (I will #keepthesecrets on the specifics), but everything about this was, well, magical. The acting, the staging, the epic nature of the story balanced with the smaller, very human moments brought this to a whole new level.

M. Butterfly (1988)
What I remember most about this play was the stunning (and Tony-winning) performance of B.D. Wong. He was simply breathtaking - I couldn't take my eyes off of him. This production also kindled my love for stylized staging. Truly one of my favorite productions of all time, of any genre. 30+ years later, I still think about it. That's powerful stuff.

Moon Over Buffalo (1995)
My stomach hurt by the time this was all over. The great Phillip Bosco and the great Carol Burnett were a one-two punch not to be believed. There were brilliant bits of physical comedy, gut-busting line readings, and best of all, plenty of heart. We need more plays like this. Just a lot of fun.

Peter and the Starcatcher (2012)
As I've mentioned many times before, I love just about all things Peter Pan. This play gave me all the feels and and hit me right in my Lost Boys soul. The childlike wonder of the script, the playful staging, and the creative staging all added up to create an experience that is truly only able to be done in live theater. It's shows like this that make theater my medium of choice.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2014)
This play is brilliant on all levels. The perfect union of technical elements, story, theme and performance. I saw the amazing performance of Taylor Trensch, and felt like I could see inside young Christopher's troubled mind. The visual elements were perfection, but honestly, the humanity of this special play are what have stayed with me.

To Kill a Mockingbird (2018)
I was hesitant to put this play on this list, fearing that maybe it is only because it is so fresh in my mind. But I really thought about it, and I truly loved this piece. First of all, it is based on one of my three favorite novels of all time, and I was skeptical that it would do Harper Lee's masterwork justice (I've never see the film to compare that, either). But somehow, Aaron Sorkin more than did it justice. And what a thrilling cast to bring it to life - Jeff Daniels, Will Pullen, and the never better Gideon Glick as Dill, and the glorious Tony-winning turn by a transcendent Celia Keenan-Bolger. I don't think I'll ever forget it.

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (2013)
Christopher Durang isn't normally my cup of tea, but I simply adored every single second of it. Was it that epic monologue delivered with just skill by David Hyde Pierce? Was it the screwball meathead sexiness of Billy Magnuson? Or was it the perfection of Durang's muse Sigourney Weaver? All of the above, really.

Venus in Fur (2011)
Sexy, edge-of-your-seat thrilling, complicated and simple all at once, this play was a wild ride and a masterclass in acting. Nina Arianda gave one of those performances people will talk about for years. And Hugh Dancy. What a pair.  I'd love to see them in a new play together again!

War Horse (2011)
As I was walking out of the theater after this play, I remember that my mouth was bone dry. I realized that was because my mouth was agape for 2+ hours straight. My cheeks, on the other hand, were wet with tears. Who knew a life-sized horse puppet could break my heart? So epic!


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