Saturday, May 24, 2008

SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Best Special Theatrical Events

SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Best Special Theatrical Events

In addition to all musicals and plays I've taken in during the 2007-08 Theatrical Season, there are a number of concerts, readings, individual performances and spectacular stagings that defied narrowly-defined categories. Since the Tony Awards define those types of shows as "Special Theatrical Events" (even though there are no nominees in that category this year), I do the same.

In my personal "5 Best" list of the greatest special theatrical events of the past year, you'll notice a vast and eclectic array of acclaimed talent and showmanship. Here's the list:

5 - Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY)

Unapologetically celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular practically dared the kid-at-heart in everyone to come out. Celebrating its 75th anniversary in style, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular offered a dazzling 90-minute variety show that simply refused to slow down. With one old-fashioned magical moment after another, it managed to make me feel like a kid again, and was a welcome respite from the nasty scrooges one long New York block away responsible for keeping the stagehands strike going. At the famed music hall, however, it was peace on earth and jingle all the way.

4 - Jon Stewart (Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis, MN)

He may be America's premier purveyor of "fake" news, but comedian Jon Stewart and his uniformly funny stand-up routine were 100% genuine and clearly from the heart. Stewart delivered an authentic 95-minute performance with incredible humanity and compassion. In essence, he has become a de facto "Every Man" for our 21st Century. Stewart wisely used his stage performance to burnish his growing reputation as America's most articulate, thoughtful and stimulating humorist since the days of Will Rogers. With a certifiably hopeful eye on the future, Stewart's routine made me stand up... and cheer.

3 - Maria Friedman: Re-arranged (Menier Chocolate Factory, London, United Kingdom)

The British have their own national treasure in Maria Friedman, an amazing pillar of fortitude and grace. Headlining her own triumphant show Maria Friedman: Re-arranged, the actress/singer provided a series of fully-realized vignettes, masterfully telling complete stories through her expressive eyes and beautiful voice. The remarkable fervent clarity with which Friedman comported herself on each and every song left me on quite an emotional high.

2 -Euan Morton: Here And Now (The Oak Room, The Algonquin Hotel, New York, NY)

The incredible musical instrument known as Euan Morton took to The Algonquin Hotel's intimate Oak Room Cabaret for a brief cabaret stint giving smart New Yorkers (and others) a first hand opportunity to be charmed by this delightful golden-throated tenor. In his Oak Room appearance, he effortlessly belted out tune after tune, reaching every note with incredible ease and precision. Morton offered an eclectic mix that flowed perfectly, whether he was breathing new life into gorgeous old standards like George Gershwin's classic "Someone To Watch Over Me" or offering his own fresh interpretations on more contemporary tunes like Roy Orbison's giddily romantic "You Got It," and Paul Simon's haunting "American Tune." Morton displayed a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, along with friendly and witty repartee with his audience. His performance brought a huge smile to my face.

1 - The Beatles Love (Love Theatre, Mirage, Las Vegas, NV)

Although it had premiered one year before I saw it, the excellent The Beatles Love was more than worth the wait. Talk about a mind-blowing, sensory overload event that more than effectively serves as the ultimate showcase for the catalogue of The Beatles. Barely settling down long enough to let you catch your breath, the Fab Four's tunes are magically brought to life, incorporating the themes and emotions behind each one. I was entranced throughout the entire production, but renditions of "Rock And Roll Run," "Help" and "Revolution" certainly epitomize who these four lads from Liverpool were and what they came to represent. This was by far the best Cirque du Soleil production I have yet to witness. And for that, it not only rates as the best special theatrical event I've seen all year, it's in a class all by itself -- it's the only reason why I want to return to Vegas.

What were the best special theatrical events you saw over the past year? I invite you to join the conversation by sharing your theatre experiences with me.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
The SOB Five "Worst" Of 2007-08 (May 23, 2008)
SOB's Best & Worst Of 2007-08 Theatre Season (May 22, 2008)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Top Ten Of The Year (June 4, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best New Musicals (May 22, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best New Plays (May 21, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best Revivals Of Musicals (May 18, 2007)
SOB's Best Of 2006-07: Best Revivals Of Plays (May 16, 2007)
The SOB Five "Worst" Of 2006-07 (May 14, 2007)
SOB's Best & Worst Of 2006-07 Theatre Season (May 14, 2007)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #1 - Theater Of The New Ear (May 30, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #2 – Guys And Dolls (May 26, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #3 – Hedda Gabler (May 25, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #4 – A Blameless Life (May 24, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #5 – Reeling (May 23, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #6 – “MASTER HAROLD”…And The Boys (May 21, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #7 – Love Song (May 19, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #8 - Billy Elliot The Musical (May 18, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #9 - The Well-Appointed Room (May 17, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #10 - Sweeney Todd (May 15, 2006)
SOB's Best and Worst of 2005-06 Theatre Season (May 12, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2004-05 (May 26, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2003-04 (May 25, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2002-03 (May 25, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2001-02 (May 24, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2000-01 (May 23, 2006)

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At 25 May, 2008, Anonymous dylan said...

I saw LOVE days after it premiered in Las Vegas. Blew me away, it was that fantastic. I don't know how anyone could walk away from this show and not place it immediately at the top of their list of bests! Thanks for another interesting article.

At 26 May, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

I'm so glad I could share the experience of hearing Euan Morton with you. He was wonderful, so funny, down to earth and such a sweet, smooth voice. It was also a big thrill for me to be in the Algonquin Hotel's very elegant Oak Room. I'd never gone to hear a singer in a place like that before. In fact, when I think about my special theatrical events, that and having the waiters at Sardi's bring me a piece of cake with a candle and sing "Happy Birthday" are at the top of the list! Thank-you for both of those truly memorable events.

At 26 May, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Dylan, Glad to know I wasn't the only one blown away by The Beatles Love. Such a glorious show in a league all by itself.

At 26 May, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, It was wonderful being able to share some truly special moments in NYC with you, both in theatrical settings and otherwise. Stay tuned for more!


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