Monday, June 02, 2008

SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Top Ten Of The Year

SOB’s Best Of 2007-08: Top Ten Of The Year

Over the past week and a half, I've offered up my "Best Of" lists for each of the five major stage categories observed by the Tony Awards, including Best Special Theatrical Events, Best Musical Revivals, Best Play Revivals, Best New Musicals and Best New Plays.

Now, before I launch into which Broadway shows would get my Tony vote if I could actually vote and my own prognostications on who will win, here’s how the best of the best rank in my personal countdown of the “10 Best” theatrical productions I saw over the course of this exciting 2007-08 Theatrical Season:

10 - From Up Here

Venue: Off-Broadway's New York City Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York, NY

Top 10 Worthiness: Liz Flahive's poignant, yet darkly funny From Up Here provided a heaping healthy dose of what troubled teens need more than anything else: hope.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Tobias Segal and Julie White.

Status: Closes June 8. Go see it. Now!

SOB Review Rating: ***1/2 (out of ****)


9 - The Seafarer

Venue: Broadway's Booth Theatre, New York, NY

Top 10 Worthiness: Conor McPherson's chilling, mesmerizing and often funny The Seafarer was one helluva good morality play that came up all aces.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Jim Norton and Conleth Hill.

Status: Closed, but look for regional theatre companies, including Chicago's Steppenwolf, to mount productions over the next year.

SOB Review Rating: ***1/2 (out of ****)


8 - South Pacific

Venue: Broadway's Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York, NY

Top 10 Worthiness: From the moment Ted Sperling cues his 30-piece orchestra, commencing the initial swells from the overture for one of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's most beloved musical scores, it's clear that this Bartlett Sher-helmed South Pacific is going to be a truly majestic revival.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Paulo Szot and Kelli O'Hara

Status: Originally slated for limited run through June, but has since become an open-ended run. National tour is in the works.

SOB Review Rating: ***1/2 (out of ****)


7 - Dreamgirls

Venue: Fox Theatre, Atlanta, GA

Top 10 Worthiness: Two words ... Jennifer Holliday reprising her quintessential Effie Melody White in Atlanta's glorious revival of Dreamgirls, which offered up some truly magical and electrifying performances from start to finish.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Jennifer Holliday and David Jennings.

Status: Closed.

SOB Review Rating: **** (out of ****)


6 - Cymbeline

Venue: Broadway's Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center, New York, NY

Top 10 Worthiness: Lincoln Center's starry revival of William Shakespeare's celestial Cymbeline sent an unexpected, yet definable chill of delight shooting down my spine, thanks to Mark Lamos' brilliant, sparkling vision.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Martha Plimpton, John Cullum and Paul O'Brien.

Status: Closed.

SOB Review Rating: **** (out of ****)


5 - A Catered Affair

Venue: Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre, New York, NY

Top 10 Worthiness: Like a rare vintage wine that deserves to be sipped and savored, the seriously sublime A Catered Affair opens up across the tastebuds into a glorious bouquet making this beautifully-acted, earnest chamber musical, rich with integrity, very intoxicating.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Faith Prince, Leslie Kritzer and Tom Wopat

Status: Open-ended run.

SOB Review Rating: **** (out of ****)


4 - The Beatles Love

Venue: Love Theatre, Mirage, Las Vegas, NV

Top 10 Worthiness: I blew my mind out with the excellent The Beatles Love, which roundly serves as the ultimate showcase for the catalogue of The Beatles via the best Cirque du Soleil production I have yet to witness.

Exceptional Standout Performances: The entire troupe from Cirque du Soleil and those Four Lads from Liverpool.

Status: Open-ended run.

SOB Review Rating: **** (out of ****)


3 - Passing Strange

Venue: Broadway's Belasco Theatre, New York, NY

Top 10 Worthiness: Passing Strange was not only the year's most cosmic, most unusual and most unexpected new musical, it was also real, full of heart and simply the best new tuner to hit Broadway all year.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Stew and Daniel Breaker.

Status: Open-ended run.

SOB Review Rating: **** (out of ****)


2 - Gypsy

Venue: Broadway's St. James Theatre, New York, NY

Suddenly, highfalutin words like "excellent," "superb" and "top-notch" just don't seem sufficient enough to adequately describe the unique, exhilarating experience of seeing Arthur Laurents' incredible and thoroughly entertaining revival of Gypsy, which is most definitely a performance for the ages. This is the best musical, period, of the year.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti and Boyd Gaines.

Status: Open-ended run.

SOB Review Rating: **** (out of ****)

1 - August: Osage County

Venues: Downstairs Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago, IL;
Broadway's Imperial Theatre, New York, NY;
Broadway's Music Box Theatre, New York, NY (present)

Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece August: Osage County rates as the best-written, best-acted play I've ever seen at Chicago's Steppenwolf and among the top five plays I've ever seen performed anywhere, anytime. Anna D. Shapiro's direction has made this a razor-sharp, whip-smart American classic. Without a doubt, this is the best show of the year, and it will win the Tony for Best Play.

Exceptional Standout Performances: Deanna Dunagan, Amy Morton, Rondi Reed and Francis Guinan.

Status: Open-ended run, now playing the Music Box Theatre on Broadway.

SOB Review Rating: **** (out of ****)


What shows would be on your top ten list? Do you think I've completely missed the boat, or would your choices largely mirror mine? I invite you to join the discussion and post your comments here.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Best New Plays (May 30, 2008)
SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Best New Musicals (May 29, 2008)
SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Best Revivals Of Musicals (May 28, 2008)
SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Best Revivals Of Plays (May 27, 2008)
SOB's Best Of 2007-08: Best Special Theatrical Events (May 24, 2008)
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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15 Comments:

At 02 June, 2008, Anonymous Dylan said...

Interesting choices, Steve. My list would probably look like this:

10 Adding Machine
9 Macbeth
8 The 39 Steps
7 Applause
6 Passing Strange
5 South Pacific
4 Sunday w/George
3 Xanadu
2 Boeing-Boeing
1 Gypsy

 
At 02 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Dylan, Would enjoy hearing more about why Applause and Macbeth made your top ten.

 
At 02 June, 2008, Anonymous dylan said...

Not that Applause was particularly brilliant by any means, but just the chance to see a staged version of this kitschy musical was a real treat for me. I never thought I’d get the opportunity frankly. I mean, the chances of this dated show being revived on Broadway are slim at best. Added to that was the opportunity to see another terrific performance by Christine Ebersole (suffering from a serious bout with the flu that night). Her dynamic interpretation of "Welcome to the Theatre" alone made for a once-in-a-lifetime, electric evening of musical theatre.

As for Macbeth, I found it to be audaciously staged and brilliantly acted. Images from this show have stayed with me long after seeing it, particularly those fiendish, rapping nurses. And though I know you don't agree, for me, Kate Fleetwood gave the best performance by ANY actress in a play this year. The weak spot here was Patrick Stewart in my opinion. He just somehow seemed too SMALL in the role, but the show itself was still fantastic in my eyes.

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Chris said...

Hey Steve can you do the same kind of top ten for London Theatre
?

I went to see Fat Pig the other night and I was very disappointed, have you seen the Broadway version?

Chris

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Appreciate your insights, Dylan. Thanks for going more in depth!

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Chris, My top ten list is meant to convey my own personal 10 favorites of the year, selected among every single show I've seen.

While there were no London shows among them this year (I only saw three), there's typically been at least one for each of the past years.

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

Hmm.. I only saw 3 of your top 10. Damn, I need to get out more.

mine prob looks like this (though I keep interchanging 3-6):

10. An Italian Straw Hat Ballet (Toronto)
9. August: Osage County (Broadway)
8. Traces - 7 Fingers Cirque (Toronto)
7. West Side Story Suite Ballet (Toronto)
6. Fuerzabruta (Off-Broadway)
5. In the Heights (Broadway)
4. Gypsy (Broadway)
3. Passing Strange (Broadway)
2. Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Signature Washington DC)
1. Parade (Donmar London)

Though, and just to be shocking, I would probably have put High School Musical on Tour in 11th spot. If I went to 15, Sunday in the Park, Xanadu, Sweeney Todd, and White Christmas would probably be next.

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Vance, For someone based in Toronto, you certainly do get out plenty. Case in point: I wish I could have seen Donmar's production of Parade - such a great show.

As for In The Heights, well, it's because of the popular appeal to people I respect that I think it will take the Tony for Best Musical. But on my overall list of the year, it would probably be in the mid twenties.

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

I admit ITH is far from perfect but it just found myself truly loving it.

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

This covers everything I've seen from September to June, so I'm not including the seven musicals I saw in July. But they were all wonderful!

10. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Providence)
9. The Lion King
8. Thurgood
7. Passing Strange
6. A Catered Affair
5. The 39 Steps (Boston)
4. In the Heights
3. South Pacific
2. Gypsy
1. August: Osage County

What's great about our lists is that they prove there's great theatre everywhere, if you can't get to Broadway, you can see excellent productions on tour, and even shows that have been around for awhile are still pretty terrific.

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Joseph said...

Adding Machine, Sunday in the Park with George, Gypsy, South Pacific, Macbeth, August: Osage County, In the Heights, Passing Strange, The 39 Steps,Boeing-Boeing and Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (tour in Dallas, TX)were my top eleven. Not in any particular order... yet.

I love lists....

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

Oh yeah. Spelling Bee, Twelve Angry Men and The Visit would have probably been next on the list!

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, Great list - glad you finally got to take in both The Lion King and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I agree that both are excellent shows.

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Joseph, Thanks for providing your top 11. I really wish I could make time to see Adding Machine...

And I love lists, too!!

 
At 03 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Vance, Personally, I'm not counting The Visit until next year since I saw it after the Tony cut-off time, which for me spells the official end of the theatre season. But I'll give you a hint - I really enjoyed myself....

Glad you, like Esther, finally got to see Spelling Bee. It's a keeper!

 

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