Broadway offered up 39 shows in 2014, but the Broadway.com staff only chooses five as the best of the year. After much consideration (not to mention hours at the theater taking it all in!), we’ve finally made our decision. Take a look at our favorites below.
Hand it to Disney to grant our wish for a splashy musical comedy that makes both kids and grown-ups giddy with the magic of theater. Aladdin shortchanges no one: it’s a glittering sugar high of a musical, complete with gorgeous vocals from stars Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed, a bravura turn from Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart as the Genie, eye-popping visuals (including the no-idea-how-they-do-it magic carpet ride) and a story with heart. There’s something to be said for hearing seven-year-olds belly laugh as they’re introduced to a whole new world…Broadway. Bravo, Aladdin!
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
Who knew a show about an East German transgender singer dealing with a botched sex-change operation and a broken heart would conquer Broadway? That’s exactly what Hedwig and the Angry Inch did. The ‘90s downtown sensation was reborn as a refreshing star vehicle with tourist appeal. What makes it so alluring? Is it the high-wattage headliners? The kick-ass score? The oddball storyline? The slick production? Who cares! Hedwig makes us scream like teenyboppers at an Elvis concert. We are forever grateful we live in this wicked little town and get to see it over and over again.
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME
Curious Incident took us somewhere we didn’t even know we wanted to go: the mind of 15-year-old boy on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. Under the inventive direction of Marianne Elliott and her dazzling design team, this play (based on a bestselling novel) presents an obstacle-ridden journey the main character (impressive newcomer Alex Sharp) and the audience navigates together. In doing so, it manages to create order in an overwhelming world while being quirky, clever and insightful about the ties that bind and the unexpected gift of a child’s ability to truly see everything.
OF MICE AND MEN
Sure, audiences probably remembered the story from English class, but Anna D. Shapiro’s impeccably directed production of Of Mice and Men was transporting whether you knew the plot beforehand or not. James Franco and Chris O’Dowd offered more than just star power with their nuanced performances as migrant farm workers deferring their dreams during the Great Depression. The play’s themes of loneliness and isolation were on display against the starry nights of Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley. This was not a reimagining but rather a straight-up revival produced with deft and dignified sparseness.
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU
Forget the idea that “all happy families are alike,” there’s nobody like the loving but ludicrous Sycamore family in You Can’t Take It With You. Whether they’re poorly pirouetting, setting off fireworks or serving up follow-your-heart philosophy with a side of Russian royalty, you can’t help but fall for this cray-cray clan and their eclectic crowd of hangers-on. It’s no small thing to see this Kaufman and Hart farce acted with comic perfection (led by the indomitable James Earl Jones): there’s a huge cast and many threads to follow, yet this production comes together like a delectable soufflé.