Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Flashback: Best of 2001-02

Flashback: Best of 2001-02

As I count down my SOB Best of 2005-06, here’s a flashback to my personal best list for the 2001-02 theatrical season, as well as my honorable mentions and what I believe was the absolute worst show I saw that season.

My SOB Best of 2001-02 includes:

#1 – The Producers (St. James Theatre, New York, NY)* -- While Nathan Lane was already calling in sick by the time I saw this show for the first time, Brad Oscar and Matthew Broderick had so much chemistry as Max and Leo that the audience roared with laughter. Sad to say, I subsequently saw the show with a couple of lesser names and the quality of the performances was down substantially and the chemistry was gone. Then, finally, on my third outing to the St. James Theatre, I finally got to witness what made this show so legendary in the first place: the classic teaming of Lane and Broderick. Unbelievably superb!

#2 – My Fair Lady (Drury Lane Theatre Royal, London, UK) – This marked my first opportunity to see magnificent Jonathan Pryce on stage in the role of Henry Higgins. Teamed with an excellent cast and wonderful Matthew Bourne choreography, it didn’t even matter that an understudy was performing in the role of Eliza Doolittle. One can only hope that this revival makes its way to the United States.

#3 – The Car Man (Ordway Theatre, St. Paul, MN) – With one of the most sensual adaptations of Carmen ever, this Matthew Bourne dance production sizzled and titillated unlike any other show I had previously seen.

#4 – The Women (American Airlines Theatre, New York, NY) – How could you do any better on casting a revival of this Clare Boothe Luce classic than including Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Johnston, Jennifer Coolidge, Jennifer Tilly, Rue McClanahan, Amy Ryan, Mary Louise Wilson and Julie Halston? Johnston and Coolidge should have received Tony nods for this outstanding and thoroughly enjoyable work.

#5 – Robin Williams (Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, MN) – The manic maestro of comedy brought his talents to the stage of Minneapolis’ famed (and about to be razed) Guthrie Thrust Stage. I honestly don’t recall ever laughing for a longer sustained period of time in my life than I did during this excellent performance. WOW!

Honorable Mentions:

Oklahoma! (Gershwin Theatre, New York, NY) --Oh, what a beautiful revival with Patrick Wilson, Andrea Martin and Tony-winner Shuler Hensley as Jud Fry.

The Graduate (Plymouth Theatre, New York, NY) -- It was as if the critics saw a different show. I loved it, Kathleen Turner and Jason Biggs.

Worst of 2001-02:

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN) – Nothing more than a vehicle for Ann-Margret to stand and pose for the audience. In a word: “Awful.”

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for The Producers tickets.
Related Stories:
Flashback: Best of 2004-05 (May 26, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2003-04 (May 25, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2002-03 (May 24, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2000-01 (May 23, 2006)

* I first caught The Producers one year into its Broadway run in the winter of 2002.


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