Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top 10 Theatrical Experiences of 2013

I skipped last year, but there'll be none of that in 2013.  After all, it's simply vital you know which of the several dozen plays, shows, concerts and cabaret performances I saw this year rose to the highest heights.

In no particular order they are:

"Stuck Elevator" at A.C.T., San Francisco
This modern opera about a delivery person for a Chinese restaurant in New York was both claustrophobic and expansive at the same time.  Weird and magical and moving.

"The Whipping Man" at Marin Theater Company, Mill Valley
I'm a sucker for a story, and so few modern works seem to have a good one.  "The Whipping Man" did - a story of life in a destroyed plantation house near the end of the Civil War.

"Vanya, Sonya, Masha & Spike" at the Golden Theater, New York
Playwright Christopher Durang managed to strike a perfect balance of the classic elements of theatre - from the Greeks to Chekov - with a very contemporary tone, full of irony and sardonic wit.  Plus it starred Sigourney Weaver and Kristine Nielsen.  Bonus.

"Here Lies Love" at The Public Theater, New York
A disco "Evita" - a story of Imelda Marcos (though not a terribly historically accurate one) that was told inside a night club.  Wonderful use of mobile stage elements and projections that make the audience part of the show.

"The Nance" at The Lyceum, New York
First, Nathan Lane.  Second, a great script by Douglas Carter Beane that seamlessly married a backstage story of forbidden love with some terrific vaudeville clowning.  See the show when it comes to San Francisco, as I'm sure it will at some point.

"This Is How It Goes" at the Aurora, Berkeley
Neil Bute's play about race and class hit all the right uncomfortable notes in this excellent production (great staging, terrific acting) from one of the best regional companies.

"West Side Story" in concert at SF Symphony
It's some of the best music ever written for the stage, and SF Symphony booked some fantastic performers to bring it to life.  Hard to beat that.

"Carrie: The Musical" at Victoria Theatre
Ray of Light has done a consistently good job of staging musical productions with small budgets and mostly local talent.  This may have been the best thing they've done - their staging (given what they have to work with) was brilliant.

"Dan Savage in Conversation with Daniel Handler" at the Castro Theater, San Francisco
Thought-provoking, hysterical, filled with dangerous ideas.  I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  (Well, maybe for the world.)

"Vince Gilligan in Conversation" at the SF JCC, San Francisco
Actually, this happened in November of 2012, but since I didn't publish a list last year, and Vince was so charming and humble and insightful that I'm including it here.  My blog, my rules.