Friday, May 26, 2006

Flashback: Best of 2004-05

Flashback: Best of 2004-05

As I count down my SOB Best of 2005-06, here’s a flashback to my personal best list for the 2004-05 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 2004-05 includes:

#1 – Mary Poppins (Prince Edward Theatre, London, UK) – It was a jolly holiday for me as I ventured to London to see the practically perfect stage adaptation of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins. The show dazzled with excellent acting, countless special effects (including a subtle, but impressive projection design), spectacular choreography by Matthew Bourne, and wonderful new tunes from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe to complement those from the movie. But at its enchanting core was plenty of heart to make even a jaded theatregoer like me tear up.

#2 – Doubt (Walter Kerr Theatre, New York, NY) – Brían F. O’Byrne and Tony-winner Cherry Jones sparred as Father Flynn and Sister Aloysius in this compelling drama that left us debating, “Did he or didn’t he?” long after our departure from the theatre. Completing the excellent ensemble of John Patrick Shanley’s morality play were Heather Goldenhersh and Adriane Lenox, who won a Tony for her ethically-challenged mother. It wasn’t hard to understand why Doubt received the 2005 Tony Award for Best Play along with a Pulitzer Prize. While closing on Broadway this July, audiences throughout the United States will have the opportunity to see Jones reprise her role in the touring production.

#3 – Pirates of Penzance Or, The Slave of Duty (Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, MN) – With the giddy glee that this W.S.Gilber/Arthur Sullivan operetta has been delivering since first performed back in 1879, I can completely appreciate why there have been 24 various Broadway productions (the last being the celebrated Kevin Kline/Linda Ronstadt/Estelle Parsons revival in 1981). In Minneapolis two summers ago, Guthrie Director Joe Dowling won the hearts of a new generation of fans with this delightful adaptation that added the incomparable Barbara Bryne as a charming Queen Victoria.

#4 – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Imperial Theatre, New York, NY) – I’ve already noted how much I thoroughly enjoyed this tuner from David Yazbek. It’s great big stuff consistently delivering great big laughs, and it's helping to finally make a great big star out of the multi-talented and extraordinarily funny Norbert Leo Butz.

#5 – 700 Sundays (Broadhurst Theatre, New York, NY) – Billy Crystal’s incredibly introspective self-therapeutic one-man show had to be seen on the Broadhurst stage to truly appreciate his story-telling genius. We can only hope that by sharing such intimate details of his relationships with his parents and other family members that he’s finally achieved some closure.
Honorable Mentions:

Reckless (Biltmore Theatre, New York, NY) – Mary-Louise Parker in her Tony-nominated turn as Rachel in Craig Lucas’ black comedy with plenty of twists and turns.

The Foreigner (Laura Pels Theatre, New York, NY) – Matthew Broderick at his comic best in Larry Shue’s hysterical tale of a man posing as someone with little understanding of English. Kevin Cahoon was excellent as the dim bulb local yokel.

La Cage Aux Folles (Marquis Theatre, New York, NY) – The revival of Jerry Herman’s dazzling, cross-dressing musical danced its way into my heart.

The Baltimore Waltz (Peter Norton Square, New York, NY) – Kristen Johnston and David Marshall Grant in this heart-wrenching comedy/drama about a brother and sister who are forced to come to terms with each other’s maladies.

Worst of 2001-02:

Forbidden Christmas Or The Doctor And The Patient (Guthrie Lab, Minneapolis, MN) – Despite the inspired casting of Mikhail Baryshnikov, even he couldn’t save this excruciatingly boring production about a man who thinks he’s a car. I saw the world premiere of this production in Minneapolis and must note that by the time it arrived in New York, it was toasted for its charms. Clearly, something must have happened along the way.

Now that I've dispensed with my flashbacks from the past five theatrical seasons, as well as counting down my SOB Best of 2005-06 up to #2, next up is my choice for the best theatrical production of the entire past year.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for Mary Poppins tickets.
Click here for Doubt (Broadway) tickets.
Click here for Doubt (Tour) tickets.
Click here for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels tickets.
Related Stories:

Butz and Pryce Flee the Scene on July 16 (June 5, 2006)
Wicked Becomes Broadway's 8th Overall Cumulative Grosser Among Current Hits (June 2, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2003-04 (May 25, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2002-03 (May 24, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2001-02 (May 24, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2000-01 (May 23, 2006)
Lucie Arnaz Plays Omaha Chic in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (May 23, 2006)
Disney Moves from Continent to Continent (May 22, 2006)
Grey Gardens Moving to Broadway, Lest There Was Any Doubt (May 15, 2006)
Most Critics Find Tarzan Less Than D’Vine (May 11, 2006)
Rejoice! Gavin Lee to Cross Atlantic for Mary Poppins on Broadway (May 8, 2006)


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