My Top 13 Theatre Moments (or Shows!) of 2012

I was going through my theatre-related posts of this year and I couldn’t pick just 10. Since this is my blog and I make the rules, I decided to do 13. 

1. Bring It On: I had my doubts and reservations about this musical, and maybe I’m a little biased after working on it for a few months, but I loved this show. It was visually stunning, fun, and not totally void of meaning. It had a good meaning overall: Life goes on after high school. I love this show, I’m sad it closed yesterday, and I will definitely miss it.

2. Merrily We Roll Along @ Encores: I went to the final performance and it was my first time having seen it – though I’d heard the music before. The cast was fantastic, as was the material. The atmosphere was also electric. Everyone was so excited to be there.

3. The Other Josh Cohen: This was just a gem of a show. I’m so glad I got to see it.

4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? revival: I had reservations about this too, having seen the last revival with Kathleen Turner, but upon being offered a free ticket, who was I to turn it down? It ended up being pretty incredible. It was probably one of the best things to open on Broadway this fall.

5. Harvey @ Studio 54: A supposed allegory for homosexuality in the mid-20th century, Jim Parsons killed his roll and this show. Loved it.

6. The Bad and the Better (by The Amoralists): I love The Amoralists. This show was a complex story with many layers and a huge cast. It was pretty epic. I don’t know how they afforded to do it, but they definitely did.

7. James Corden in One Man, Two Guv’nors: I loved this play and I probably loved it because James Corden was so goddamn funny. He absolutely killed onstage. He deserved his TONY Award.

8. The Lyons: I saw this play off-Broadway and loved, and saw it twice more on Broadway. I loved it every single time. Probably because Linda Lavin reminded me of my late Jewish grandmother. And… Michael Esper.

9. Once’s Transfer to Broadway: I think the producers transfered this show well. Not much got lost in the bigger space in the Jacobs Theatre and the spirit of the show remained intact. I loved it off-Broadway and it made me cry (twice) on Broadway. I wasn’t sure whether transferring this show was the right thing to do, but I’m happy that they’re doing well ($1 million+/week).  

10. Tribes: This was an off-Broadway show not to be missed. It deserved every bit of praise it received. I loved it a lot possibly because the lead was hearing-impaired so it made it that much more believable, but who knows. It had a healthy run at The Barrow Group and is now going to LA. 

11. Carrie: A cult classic that only existed in bootleg form before MCC revived it. It was cheesy and the music wasn’t so stellar, and I wished there’d been more blood, but it was an experience to be had and seen. I’m definitely glad I paid $20 to sit in the second row. 

12. Jesus Christ Superstar‘s Resurrection: The revival in 2000 wasn’t so good – except for Tony Vincent, duh – but I loved, loved, loved this one, which transferred from the Stratford Theatre Festival. It felt like a digital update, but the incredible rock score was still the intact and the cast was incredible. I don’t care what anyone says, Josh Young was an incredible Judas. I saw this revival twice and my only regret is that I wished I’d seen it again!

13. Assistance: I was an assistant when I saw this so I definitely related. It was hysterical, vulgar, and exaggerated (though I’m sure it’s not so exaggerated for some people). The ending also wins for ‘most unrelated and random ending ever.’ Also: Michael Esper.

That’s my run-down for 2012. There were a dozen or more shows that I saw and didn’t write about (because I suck sometimes), but I’ll try to be better about writing about EVERYTHING in 2013. What were your top theatre moments in 2012? Happy new year!

I was lucky enough to work the 2006 Gypsy of the Year competition, and watched it again in 2007. I hadn’t been to the annual celebration of our community since and last night was a lovely reminder of why this community is so fantastic.

Every year around the holidays, all of the shows on Broadway (of whom are already open) and a handful of off-Broadway shows come together to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS after performances. This culminates into one huge celebration, the Gypsy of the Year, and celebrates the entire community and presents an award to whichever show raised the most.

Yesterday afternoon’s show including jaw dropping performances and lots of laughs. The cast of The Lion King has always, always had incredible dance performances, and this year was no exception. Bring It On was one of my favorites because it was hysterical, sexy, and mind-blowing. Also: Adrienne Warren was wearing old costumes from the 2000 revival of The Rocky Horror Show, which was a nice blast from the past. Judith Light’s moment on the stage to talk about the theatre community since the 80’s was heartbreaking and inspiring. 

Another favorite: Mary Poppins which performed a skit called “island of the Misfit Shows,” which included shows like War Whores, Grannie, and it’s newest addition, Rebecca

There’s one more performance at the New Amsterdam Theatre today at 2:30. If you’re around, check it out. Click here for more information.  

Last night, Birdland hosted “Amanda Green & Friends” – an evening with Ms. Green and her music sung by some of her friends. I’ve been a fan of Green’s since High Fidelity – one of my favorite scores ever. 

Currently Green is working on “Hands on a Hardbody” with Phish’s Trey Anastasio. The genre of music isn’t so much my style (it’s semi-country) but it was really neat to see Anastasio sing (and play!) his own song as the finale. Above from left to right is the fabulous Jen Colella, Jay Armstrong, Amanda Green, and Trey Anastasio.

Check out my YouTube channel for a few videos shot on my iPhone. 

I seriously loved Bring It On. I could totally see myself seeing it again. I’d heard positive things and I knew the choreography and stunts were going to be amazing, but I really had such a good time. This is the best example of really good Broadway pop out there. It’s just a really good time.

Taylor Louderman was fantastic as Campbell, as was Adrienne Warren as her arch nemesis-turned-friend Danielle. I found myself unexpectedly loving Ryann Redmond as the socially awkward mascot-turned-cheerleader Bridget. 

I love the way they took inspiration from the series of Bring It On movies and made an entertaining new plot line with a couple of unexpected plot twists. The technical aspects of the show (four large LCD screens, and what looks like about $100k worth of lighting around the stage and proscenium) really added to the show in the best of ways. 

Everyone on that stage is a triple threat, possibly quadruple – could cheerleading count as a 4th ‘threat’? The choreography (by Andy Blankenbuehler) and cheer leading stunts were absolutely breathtaking, to say the least. 

Your eyes won’t know where to look sometimes and your jaw will at times be dropped. You’ll definitely have a good time at the St. James this fall. 

So, New York tops the cultural list for theatre, but Broadway is in a dry spell right now. Aside from the long-awaited (seriously, I feel like I’ve been hearing about this show for years!) opening of Bring It On last night and the opening of Mike Tyson’s one-man show Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth in August, there’s nada going on in the theatre district right now.

Besides seeing Last Smoker a couple of weeks ago, it’s been a total dry-spell for me as well. And that’s just depressing. 

End of the Rainbow is closing prematurely on August 19th, despite the cries of Garland fans everywhere, and the premature off-Broadway revival of Rent is closing on September 9th (four years and one day after the original production closed).

But what do we have to look forward to in the fall?  David Mamet’s brand new play, The Anarchist, begins previews at the Lyceum Theatre on November 13th, about a woman pleading for parole after leading an underground anarchist group. Sounds interesting to me! 

Cyrano de Bergerac is being revived yet again, this time by Roundabout. I’m not sure what inspired this revival, but having seen the last one in 2007, I don’t think there was a huge demand for another revival (I’m not saying the ‘07 revival was bad – it wasn’t – just that it’s not a play that people are dying to see all the time). David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is also being revived this season- for what reason, I have no idea. I saw the last revival in 2005, with Liev Schrieber and Alan Alda. Performances were stellar (from what I remember) through out but again, I didn’t see this play being revived for any reason again in the next twenty years. Well, Mr. Mamet will certainly have a busy fall, that’s for sure.

The Performer begins previews at the Longacre Theatre on October 23rd. Described as “when sex, love, and Barry Manelow intersect,” it should be interesting. Ari Graynor and Daniel Breaker, along with a few others, lead the small cast – another reason to check it out.

Besides Cyrano, Roundabout is producing The Big Knife and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (with an awesome cast!). Whilst Manhattan Theatre Club will be busy with productions of shows like An Enemy of the People and The Other People.

Lewis Black will be performing on Broadway for a week in October in Running on Empty – “a politically charged and cathartic one-man show.” I will be there.

Another show being revived for (at least) the second time in my life time is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Having seen the last revival in 2005 with Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin, I’m afraid there might be no going back.  However the logo for this production is certainly amazing, and it’s the 50th anniversary, so I suppose…. why not, right?

The shows I’m most anticipating are Matilda (based on the book, and by all accounts, the raves from London are certainly earned), Rebecca (after having been postponed last season, hopefully it will open this season), and Chaplin (based on the life of Charlie Chaplin and there’s been a fair amount of buzz surround this piece).

There’s also the revival of Annie, Golden Boy, Grace, and The Heiress opening, but I haven’t heard much about any of them. Besides casting news for Annie, of course. But does anyone really care which 8-year-old gets to play the belting red head for the third Broadway mounting? Nah, I didn’t think so. 

New Musical ‘Lysistrata Jones’ is Headed to the Gym

I’ve discussed this adaptation a few times with my friends, and I think it will be the play to see in the Spring.  It seems that the spring is going to be A Battle of the Cheerleader Musicals, with Bring It On getting produced on Broadway in addition to this modern adaptation of Lysistrata called Lysistrata Jones, in which cheerleaders withhold sex from the basketball team until they start winning.  

Douglas Carter Beane has adapted the play and is sure to impress with such credits under his belt as the hilarious The Little Dog Laughed (one of my favorite plays that season) as well as the book for Xanadu

The twist is that The Transport Group, which is known for producing plays in unique spaces, is producing Lysistrata Jones on the gym/basketball court of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village.  

Bring It On is scheduled to begin it’s out of town try-out in Atlanta next month.  Lysistrata Jones begins performances in Greenwich Village in May.  I’ll definitely be buying tickets when they go on sale.  

New Musical ‘Lysistrata Jones’ is Headed to the Gym