Monday, December 22, 2014

The Year-End Roundup

Every year, I rack up regrets over shows I never got the chance to see. I missed Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 &3) this year, for example, and also Sticks and Bones and Bootycandy. That being said, I got to see some great productions, among them 18 I blogged about for Showdown. While a few of them--Bread and Puppet Theater's summer circus and New Hazlett Theater's production of Parade--were so far off Broadway as to be in different states entirely, most of them were right here in New York, a city that I love mightily and want the very best for.

Sure, this year, I experienced some theatrical lows. I made no secret of really, really disliking If/Then. And I really have no idea what the fuck was going on with Outside Mullingar, despite some good performances and a nice set. There were a few shows I chose not to blog about at all because I had nothing terribly insightful to say about them (and, in the case of The Death of Klinghoffer, because I just didn't want to wade into the controversies that drew away from what was, in the end, a beautiful if flawed opera in a beautiful if flawed production).

But as Wendy notes in her end-of-year post, one of the joys of being a theater blogger is that we don't have to see stuff that we know will suck. We might pay for all our tickets, sit in crappy seats, and waste far more time on this blog than we should, especially when we have books to work on and classes to prepare for. But on the other hand, we are predisposed to like the things we choose to see, and we get to share our impressions with people who read our blog posts and almost never feel compelled to leave abusive comments or spam us with porn. Really, as I see it, it's a win-win situation.

So, too, is theatergoing. Because, seriously, even the shows I liked least were worth seeing. This past year, I got to see an awful lot of good theater with people I love. My 11-year-old daughter joined me (and, often, others) at On the Town, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Cabaret, Newsies, You Can't Take It With You, and Julie Taymor's gorgeous A Midsummer Night's Dream. While the relentlessly dark Cabaret might have been pushing it, and while my daughter was somewhat tepid about On the Town ("It was a little dancy," she observed), she's become an excellent theater companion, and seems to enjoy most of the shows I drag her to. I am looking forward to dragging her to more this year, and to bringing my husband and our seven-year-old son along, as well.

I left my daughter at home for Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and Beautiful, but she probably would have enjoyed them both. My husband took me on a date to see Kvelertak, Gojira, and Mastodon, which was a metal concert and not a Broadway show, but we had great, headbanging fun, anyway. And now I'm suddenly wondering if there's room on Broadway for a Kvelertak musical, and if so, how we can make that happen.

On my own or with friends, I revisited my 20s by seeing the Broadway rendition of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, marveled at Audra McDonald's uncanny impersonation of Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, and celebrated the end of the spring 2014 semester by going with my graduate students to see Violet.

Because I seem to be a pretty mainstream kind of gal, I saw fewer Off or Off Off Broadway shows than I did Broadway productions, but nevertheless caught the totally weird and worthwhile Bedbugs! It's a Musical! and the heartbreaking Vartn af Godot (Waiting for Godot).

Already on my wish-list for next year: Hamilton at the Public, Fun Home in revival on Broadway, and Between Riverside and Crazy at Second Stage. And perhaps fewer production-related regrets a year from now.

As 2014 draws to a close, I wish everyone a happy, healthy, peaceful holiday season--and a new year that is far less turbulent, sad, and frustrating than the one we're leaving behind. On the theatergoing front, may the tickets you purchase be deeply discounted, may the spectators you join be courteous about turning their phones off, and may the shows you see--may all the arts entertainment you seek--work to brighten your darkest and most difficult of days. 

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