A life in the theater in 2012.

Last holiday season, I sat down with my parents and had The Talk about moving to New York. This holiday season, I flew back to the city on the day after Christmas. Because I live here now. What a crazy revelation.

Because I'm still that person who religiously keeps records of all the theater I'm lucky enough to attend, I'm more aware than ever that I see shows at a pace much too furious to review every performance. Super Awesome Broadway Ninjas is approaching its third anniversary, and I'd very much like to adopt a format that keeps the blog's content as relevant as possible while giving you something more interesting to read than dry commentary on shows I saw months ago. I just haven't figured out what that format is yet. Feel free to shoot me any suggestions in the comments section of this post!

The countless hours I've spent in the plush seats of a theater over the past year, more than ever, seem to boil down not to Best Shows of the Year, but to particular performances, details, relationships with the person sitting next to me, and experiences that stick in my memory long after the curtain goes down. In that spirit, I present some of my most memorable theatrical moments of 2012:

- Hearing the audience shout "Brava!" at the curtain call of Porgy and Bess. The classiest and only appropriate response to Audra McDonald's performance.

- Norbert Leo Butz's masterful work in How I Learned To Drive, which had my skin crawling for weeks.

- Seeing two of my favorite plays, Death of a Salesman and Angels in America, on stage for the first time.

- Ugly-crying straight through half the first act and the entire second act of Merrily We Roll Along. And I mean UGLY-crying.

- In the midst of following so many young composers, it was thrilling to see Benj Pasek and Justin Paul find the success they deserve in New York from two delightful shows - Dogfight off-Broadway and A Christmas Story on. Also seeing Sam Carner and Derek Gregor's song cycle, "Island Song," fully realized at Le Poisson Rouge.

- Catching Philadelphia Theatre Company's production of The Scottsboro Boys almost a year after being bowled over by Joshua Henry and the much-Tony-nominated, short-lived Broadway premiere.

- The stunning costume, set, and lighting design in The Heiress, with performances to match.

- Watching Peter and the Starcatcher make it to Broadway. Attending the first preview and hearing Black Stache's line change from "books, movies, off-Broadway plays!" at New York Theater Workshop to "books, movies, Broadway plays!" at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, with much applause from a knowing audience. From Christian Borle’s Tony win, to watching his castmates send him off with an autographed buoy at his last performance, to revisiting the show every few weeks and finding the same sense of magic that I first experienced downtown.

- The sheer joy exuded by the cast of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, in particular the moments in the show that poke fun at the conventions of theater. Never has a balloon been used to suggest a creaky graveyard door with more glee.

- Sacrificing sleep and sanity for the Nth time to attend another edition of the "If It Only Runs A Minute" concert series at Joe's Pub on a school night (remember those?). The payoff? Claybourne Elder and Jeremy Jordan reuniting to sing "When I Drive" from one of our favorite shows from 2012, Bonnie and Clyde.

- Despite the mixed critical reaction to Into The Woods at the Delacorte Theatre, the experience of seeing one of my favorite Sondheim shows in Central Park was unforgettable.

- Laughing harder than I ever have in a theater at One Man Two Guvnors, partially because being pulled on stage like "Christine" is my worst nightmare.

- Seeing Annie, which served as Four-Year-Old Me's introduction to theater back in the day, on Broadway.

- The goosebump-inducing moment when the Newsies set moves forward during "Once and For All."

- Spending every second of the Assassins benefit concert at Roundabout Theatre Company pinching myself.

- Having a (surprising) blast at Ghost and then falling hard for it hard just as it was closing. A perfect summer love affair that culminated in winning front-row lottery seats at the closing performance.

- Venus in Fur, both times I saw it. For introducing me to the wonder that is Nina Arianda and for being one of the most fascinating, well-written plays I've ever seen.

- After a failed attempt at rush tickets the day before and a severe lack of sleep, ending up at Once for their final pre-Tony Awards performance.

- Thanks to our dedication to seeing favorite leading lady Laura Osnes in everything she does, attending shows at Fancy People venues such as Carnegie Hall (The Sound of Music), the CafĂ© Carlyle, and 54 Below.

- The true brilliance of Tony Shalhoub and Seth Numrich in Lincoln Center Theater's brilliant production of Golden Boy. ...brilliant.

CockTribesFallingTracee Chimo in Bad JewsAnnie Funke in If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet, and Shuler Hensley in The Whale - off-Broadway finds whose staging, subject matter, and central performances shattered my conceptions of what actors on a stage are capable of.


Anonymous said...

Hi Hillary and Michelle,

Love reading your blog, but you haven't written anything new in a long time. Hope you are both doing well and still seeing a lot of theater in the city.

I am willing to bet that you have seen Cinderella (with Laura Osnes!), Matilda, and Kinky Boots, and perhaps Hands on a Hardbody, Motown, and Pippin.

I would love to read your opinion on the (brief) revival of Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll and Hyde. Charles Isherwood of the New York Times opened his review by declaring, "Frank Wildhorn musicals: the crabgrass of Broadway." Ouch!

What did you think of this year's Encores productions: Fiorello (with Shuler Hensley), Superman (with Jenny Powers), and On Your Toes (with Irina Dvorovenko)? Did you see Passion (with Judy Kuhn), Murder Ballad, or Nikolai and the Others?

I certainly do not see as much theater as you do, but I enjoy reading your thoughts and impressions.

Larry from New Jersey

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