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Top 10 Best Plays/Musicals of 2010

10 Dec

Disclaimer: I didn’t see every play and musical in the Bay Area or on Broadway, so unfortunately this isn’t a comprehensive list. I did see over 60 productions this year and saw a wide variety of plays and musicals at most of the Bay Area Theatre companies and several in Las Vegas, London and New York City.

There are still a few main companies that I’m missing in the Bay Area, but planning on reviewing next year (most notably, ACT in San Francisco). I’m excluding two productions that I was a part of: RENT at City Lights Theatre Company and Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Bus Barn Stage Company — they were both fantastic productions, but would be totally biased if included.

These 10 plays/musicals were my favorite productions that I saw in 2010. (You can see the list of all of the shows I saw, here.)  The Bay Area has had many success stories this past year, from Theatrework’s production of Memphis that won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Berkeley Rep transferring Green Day’s American Idiot (which also won two Tony Awards). The Bay Area Theatre community is definitely representing well but here’s a list of my favorites of 2010 that includes the Bay Area, Las Vegas, New York City and London!

Congratulations and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year! I’m hearing that some of my favorite shows are going to be produced right here in the Bay Area.

Number 10:

Rain at Broadway San Jose: Broadway San Jose has brought a lot of fun productions this year to San Jose. They started off the year with the super high-spirited shows, Avenue Q and Legally Blonde. In September, their second season started off with a bang, with the sizzling show, Burn the Floor (which I surprisingly loved). But, my favorite, so far this year, was Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles. I said in my review, “Rain: A Tribue to the Beatles does an incredible job of grabbing everyone’s attention and giving them a show that’s instantly likable at any age.”

I had more fun at this performance, (which technically seemed more like a concert than a “musical”) than I ever expected to have, plus I was able to hear some of my favorite Beatles’ songs performed live. 100% recommended.

Read the full review, here.

Number 9:

In the Heights at Curran Theatre (SHNSF – touring production): Out of all of the touring productions that SHNSF brought to San Francisco, In the Heights was by far the best one. There was Fiddler on the Roof, Young Frankenstein (which I missed), Beauty and the Beast, West Side StoryShrek and of course, the San Francisco cast of Wicked which sadly closed at the beginning of September. Here’s an excerpt of my review of In the Heights:

I never expected to love it as much as I do, but it’s infectious rhythms and beautiful melodies accompanied with a story that has more heart than most Broadway musicals makes for an electrifying evening of theatre. I might just have to go back and see this again. It’s that good.

I’m sad that In the Heights is closing on Broadway in January, but happy I had the experience of seeing this incredible show.

Read the full review, here.

Number 8:

Ain’t Misbehavin’ at San Jose Repertory Theatre: For my first introduction to this fantastic show, San Jose Rep’s production was Broadway-caliber. I thought the performers were incredibly talented and the overall production was one of the best shows I’ve seen at SJ Rep. I really enjoyed several productions at SJ Rep this year and Black Pearl Sings was another favorite, but Ain’t Misbehavin’ had an energy that was totally infectious.

I think the entire audience was ready to dance and clap at the end because all of us leapt to our feet during the closing song!

I couldn’t be more thrilled that this was my first introduction to Ain’t Misbehavin’! It’s a perfect treat!

Read the full review, here.

Number 7:

San Francisco SymphonyAudra McDonald & Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook: San Francisco Symphony is creative and innovative with their programming choices. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two programs that I saw at SF Symphony this year, because they were excellent. Audra McDonald’s performance was genius (per usual). McDonald’s voice accompanied by the SF Symphony was absolutely breathtaking. This is a night I won’t soon forget. The other show I saw was Duncan Sheik’s symphonic arrangement of his newest musical, Whisper House. The beautiful arrangements added so much texture and layers to his already haunting score. I just wished it was a longer concert. (It was great to see Duncan Sheik in concert while I was visiting Glasgow.) Well done SF Symphony.

Read the full review of Audra McDonald, here.

Read the full review of Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook, here.

Number 6:

Musical Love Never Dies at Aldephi Theatre (London): With all of the negative press that has been surrounded by Love Never Dies I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed myself. I’ve never been too partial to Phantom of the Opera (though I do love the shortened Vegas production), but I was absolutely intrigued by the beautiful set, costumes and world that Andrew Lloyd Weber has created at the Aldephi Theatre. I was enraptured the entire time (and I had the worst seats ever). I’m seeing this production again on New Year’s Day and am looking forward to seeing the changes that they have made to the plot/story-line, but  the melodramatic story accompanied the music perfectly. It’s a spectacle and one that you shouldn’t miss. It was my favorite show I saw in London.

Read the full review, here.

Number 5:

Jersey Boys at The Palazzo (Las Vegas): For some reason, I avoided Jersey Boys like it was the plague. I had no interest in seeing this musical, even though it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. But on my Las Vegas Broadway Vacation, I saw The Lion King, Phantom and Jersey Boys and both the missus and I absolutely loved Jersey Boys. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

The Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys is so engaging that even someone who has never cared to acquaint themselves with the music and story of The Four Seasons (like myself) cannot escape being sucked into this world.

Read the full review, here.

Number 4:

Compulsion at Berkeley Rep: This particular play will be in New York City (with the same cast) in the Spring and you won’t want to miss this heart-breaking play. The interweaving of puppets, matched with Mandy Patinkin’s intensity makes this play one of the best things I saw this year!

Berkeley Rep is known for producing first-rate theatre, but out of everything that I saw this year at Berkeley Rep, Compulsion was the best. It’s remarkable.

Read the full review, here.

Number 3:

Tie between American Idiot and Next to Normal on Broadway: The reasons behind the tie is that I have seen both of these productions before. I saw American Idiot four times at Berkeley Rep and Next to Normal four times on Broadway (all with Alice Ripley). This was the first time I saw American Idiot on Broadway and the first time I saw Next to Normal without Alice Ripley. Out of all of the new shows I saw on Broadway that weekend, these two shows still resonated with me the most.

I can’t get enough of either show. I rarely see a show multiple times, and both of these shows I have now seen five times. If you haven’t seen either, than I suggest running to theatre and grabbing tickets! I’ll be seeing both of these shows in the new year – American Idiot again on Broadway with Billie Jo Armstrong as St. Jimmy and Next to Normal on tour in San Francisco with Alice Ripley.

Read the full review of American Idiot, here.

Number 2:

Broadway Cast Poster Closing night of Finian’s Rainbow at St. James Theatre: On a whim, I saw the closing night of Finian’s Rainbow. It was one of the most emotional nights of theatre I have ever witnessed. Here’s an excerpt of the review:

Song after song, scene after scene, it just kept getting better and better. It ended with a beautiful rainbow as they sung, “How are Things in Glocca Morra?” The audience leapt to their feet, tears in their eyes and gave a rousing standing ovation unlike any standing ovation I’ve ever seen in theatre. What a special show, night and cast.

It’s truly a travesty that this show closed so early, but it’s a gift that will never be forgotten. The magic of the rainbow is far but over.

Read the full review of Finian’s Rainbow, here.

Number 1:

Whisper House at Old Globe Theatre (San Diego): This is a musical that has stayed with me all year. Time after time, I’m thinking about this show, listening to the music and recounting the experience to friends and family. “Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow’s new musical, Whisper House, carefully crafts a new style of story-telling that is powerful, unique and riveting.” I love that Sheik and Jarrow upset the “standard musical comedy” with a different way to present a musical. It tells me that there is a future in this craft and that people are still willing to make huge strides in storytelling in musical theatre instead of adapting movies into musicals (over and over).

I absolutely loved Whisper House and I will go and see it anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Read the full review of Whisper House, here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

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6 responses to “Top 10 Best Plays/Musicals of 2010

  1. t love

    12/18/2010 at 6:57 PM

    hey you said that you watched Phatomn Lion King and JErsey boys at VEgas – can you rank them as you liked best?

     
  2. VegasPal

    12/19/2010 at 7:31 PM

    Just went to the matinee of Jersey Boys today and ……wow……. what a show. Aside from the musical associations from my childhood, the singing was great, the acting was great and the story line itself was most interesting. I can’t wait to see it again.

     
  3. Cara

    12/26/2010 at 4:00 PM

    The 1st show I ever saw more than once was American Idiot. I am seeing it again in a couple of weeks. As for Next to Normal, I only got to see it once with Alice Ripley, but I play on trying to catch a tour date so I can see it again. Both shows rank in my top theatrical experiences.

     
  4. TaoTown

    04/28/2011 at 5:19 AM

    what about Lombardi?!

     

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