Don Shewey’s Top Dozen for 2010 in NY

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John Sullivan
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The Best of 2010 in New York

A strong year in New York theater, I would say. Here’s my pick of the dozen top productions:

‘Sexypants’ Benjamin Walker as Andrew Jackson
Photo by Joan Marcus

1. “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – Les Freres Corbusier’s smart/stupid rock musical, my first exposure to excellent writer/director Alex Timbers and his fearless crew, including a rock star-caliber lead performance by Benjamin Walker. As the subway ads put it, “History just got all sexypants!”

2. “The Myopia” – David Greenspan in a spectacular solo performance of his own crazy play.

3. “The Merchant of Venice” – Daniel Sullivan’s deep, upsetting staging of Shakespeare’s play in which Al Pacino’s Shylock and Lily Rabe’s Portia were two of 20 strong performances.

4. “A View From the Bridge – Direction by Gregory Mosher, with terrific performances by Liev Schreiber, Jessica Hecht, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Cristofer, and Corey Stoll.

5. “Angels in America – Michael Greif’s revival of Tony Kushner’s play with extra-fine performances by Christian Borle, Zachary Quinto, Bill Heck, Robin Bartlett, and Robin Weigert.

6. “In the Wake – Lisa Kron’s play (lynchpin of the Public Theater’s admirable political-theater season) with extra-fine performances by Michael Chernus and Deidre O’Connell.

7. “A Lie of the Mind – Ethan Hawke’s surprisingly beautiful re-imagining of Sam Shepard’s play, with a revelatory central performance by Alessandro Nivola.

8. “A Disappearing Number” – Fine new work from Complicite, directed by Simon McBurney with a dazzling production design.

9. “The Kid” – The smart and tuneful musical adaptation of Dan Savage’s memoir with a good cast well-directed by Scott Elliott, most notably Christopher Sieber, Susan Blackwell, and Jeannine Frumess

10. “A Free Man of Color” – John Guare’s ambitious stylized epic staged in high style by George C. Wolfe with a huge cast in which standouts included Jeffrey Wright, mos, and Veanne Cox.

11. “Another American: Asking and Telling” – Perfect timing for Marc Wolf to bring back his Anna Deveare Smith-like solo performance surveying the topic of gays in the military.

12. “A Behanding in Spokane – Martin McDonagh’s hilarious new play with knockout performances by Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell and a superbly seedy set by Scott Pask.

I’m not quite sure where to put three shows I’d seen before but were still high-water marks for 2010: “Fela!” (last year’s No. 1, which I saw twice again this year), “Gatz” (which made my top 10 in 2007), and the Wooster Group’s “North Atlantic (the third revival, with a great new cast including Ari Fliakos, Kate Valk, Steve Cuiffo and Zachary Oberzan).

Miscellaneous highlights:

  • William Kentridge’s dense and dazzling production of Shostakovich’s “The Nose” at the Metropolitan Opera and his equally theatrical retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.
  • Norm Lewis singing “Being Alive” in “Sondheim on Sondheim” at the Roundabout
  • Christine Jones’ set and Michael Mayer’s direction for “American Idiot
  • Mark Rylance’s justly acclaimed performance in “La Bête
  • The Pee-Wee Herman Show” on Broadway – sheer fun!
  • Most Valuable Player (male): Scott Shepherd for “North Atlantic” and “Gatz”
  • Most Valuable Player (female): Bonnie Thunders, Gotham Girls Roller Derby

Don Shewey

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