1. Mission Drift
(The TEAM/COIL Festival @ Connolly Theater)
The TEAM isn't afraid to tackle big issues, and their epic musical about the history of capitalism and home ownership in the US was no exception. The fabulous music by Heather Christian was the icing on the already delicious cake!
2. The Big Meal
(@ Playwrights Horizons)
Dan LeFranc's unofficial update of Thornton Wilder's The Long Christmas Dinner was absolutely perfect and the cast and the production equaled it in every way.
3. We’re Gonna Die
(Young Jean Lee @ LCT3)
Young Jean Lee did it again, and this time she did it front and center as the lead of a rock band called Future Wife. The songs complimented the text perfectly. Lee is certainly wise way beyond her years!
4. What Rhymes With America
(@ Atlantic Theater)
Melissa James Gibson's latest play may just be her best to date. Director, Daniel Aukin once again guides another excellent cast through Gibson's unique diologue.
(Big Dance Theater@ The Chocolate Factory)
It seemed like the cast of Ich Kurbisgeist was having just as much fun as the audience at The Chocolate Factory. This production was magical.
You either loved David Adjmi's 3C, or you hated it. We loved his brutally honest and hilarious interpretation of the famous 70s sitcom, Three's Company.
7. Broke House
(Big Art Group @ Abrons Arts Center)
Originally presented as part of the American Realness festival, Big Art Group's Broke House actually got better upon second viewing when it was re-staged in the Spring. We can't think of a more accurate portrayal of life in 2012 America.
(Theater Reconstruction Ensemble @ HERE Arts Center)
This Chekhovian mashup was smart and funny, our two favorite attributes. John Kurzynowski is a director to watch.
(@ Playwrights Horizons)
Gina Gionfriddo's latest play was a sober look at several generations of women, feminists if you will, and the unintended ways in which life choices have a way of sneaking up one. It was a pleasure to see Amy Brenneman back on stage.
(Target Margin @ HERE Arts Center)
David Herskovits' wide open take on Uncle Vanya make you feel as though you were watching a brand new play. The terrific cast played gamely along, most notably Edward O’Blenis as Astrov.
(@ Danspace Project)
Whether it was watching Valda Setterfield dance along with a video of her younger self, or watching dozens of NYU students simultaneously perform The Chair with Ms. Setterfield, David Gordon: The Matter may have been the most moving evening we spent in the theater this year.
(@ The Public)
This Argentinian import that was part of both Under The Radar and COIL festivals was a pure theatrical delight. Performed on a continuously rotating turntable, the nimble cast of four portrayed multiple characters as smoothly as the set spun.
(@ Ars Nova)
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 was more fun that any musical adaptation of War and Peace has any right to be. It was thrillingly theatrical turn performed by the best ensemble this year.
(@ Rattlestick Theater)
Adam Rapp's dystopian portrayal of a near-future Manhattan never wavered in its commitment or intensity. From the moment you entered the theater, the set cast, sound and lighting and text grabbed you and never let go.
15. You Better Sit Down
(The Civilians @ The Flea)
Sub titled Tales From My Parents Divorce, The Civilians made and uncomfortable topic both touching and funny. The cast of four, recounting their own stories, were perfect.
(@ Soho Rep)
The second Vanya on this list couldn't have been more different that the Target Margin version. But Annie Baker's casual adaptation worked perfectly in this quiet and intimate production. Reed Birney, Maria Dizzia and Georgia Engel stood out in this tight ensemble.
17. Mies Julie
(@ St. Ann’s Warehouse)
Hot, is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Mies Julie. Hilda Cronje and Bongile Mantsai were the steamiest couple on the NYC stage this year, and Yael Farber's production, set in South Africa, made Strindberg's play supremely contemporary.
18. Five Lesbians Eating A Quiche
This Chicago import was probably the outright funniest play of 2012. The ensemble was hilarious and Five Lesbians had, hands-down, the best stage effect or the year!
19. Gob Squad’s Kitchen (You’ve Never Had It So Good)
(Under The Radar @ The Public)
Winner of the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, Gob Squad’s Kitchen hilariously recreated the famous Andy Warhol films Kitchen, Sleep and Screen Test until the actors invite audience members to take their place on stage and on screen. We usually hate audience participation, but Gob Squad almost makes us want to reconsider.
20. Port Out, Starboard Home
A creepy cruise may either sound oxymoronic or redundant depending upon your point of view. In a way Port Out, Starboard Home by Sheila Callaghan makes a case for the latter but definitely letting you laugh (often) throughout.