2015 was another great year for theatre in DC, on Broadway, and in the West End. Here is a recap of my favorite shows from this past year.
McLean Community Players’ Production of 13
My first choice is totally biased since this is also the first show I ever produced. I couldn’t imagine how much the show, the cast, and the creative team would come to mean to me. Plus, I had the chance to produce a show by one of my favorite composers, Jason Robert Brown, and that was incredible. Even more incredible, was the time I got to talk to him about it and create this video! The show was so much fun and well-received, and now, I’m producing another show this year!
Dear Evan Hansen at Arena Stage
Another two of my favorite composers are Pasek & Paul, so the moment I heard they would be working on their next original musical in DC, I was excited. I had no clue what to expect when I saw the first preview, but the result was beautiful. The cast was amazing, and the music was funny, honest, and heartfelt. The script tied the whole thing together. Seeing the show develop in DC is one of my best theatre experiences ever, and I can’t wait to see what’s changed during the show’s upcoming Second Stage run.
MTC’s Parade in concert at the Lincoln Center
Did I mention I love the work of Jason Robert Brown? Well, when I heard his first Tony Award Winning show would be made into a one night only all-star concert in one of the world’s best venues, I knew I had to be there. Seeing him conduct the show was incredible, and with a cast led by Jeremy Jordan and Laura Benanti, the music has never sounded so good. The show touches on a real, heartbreaking event, and yet, I would still go back to see the show anytime I have the chance.
Hamilton on Broadway
Many people may be shocked that this is the fourth show on my list. I was incredibly impressed yet again by the innovative work of Lin Manuel Miranda. It’s fourth simply because it’s not my favorite of what I saw, and I have been blessed to see a lot of shows. I love that this show has introduced so many people all over the world to theatre and reinvented what musical theatre music can be. Lin Manuel Miranda is a genius, and I hope he creates many more shows for us to enjoy.
West Side Story at Signature Theatre
I had a feeling that Signature’s production of West Side Story would be nothing less than brilliant, and I was right. The music and story have been performed for over 50 years because they’re beautiful, and the way Signature transformed their small theatre space, incorporated multiple choreographers’ expertise and utilized local and NY talent is superb. I am always excited to see a show directed by Matthew Gardiner, and his choices with this production were brilliant. I’d say go see it since it’s still running, but the run (and extension) are sold out.
Brooklynite at Vineyard Theatre
Initially, I was going to see this show because Matt Doyle would be the star, and anytime I can hear him sing, I must go. However, this show’s entire cast was quite memorable, and I am still wishing for a CD so that I could hear the fun, inspiring music again. The show was overall lighthearted, and I hope it continues to be produced.
Cabaret at Signature Theatre
In the previous season, I knew Cabaret was going to be the show for Signature that year. Then, they cast Barret Wilbert Reed and Wesley Taylor, and a whole lot of other people knew too. Matthew Gardiner directed and choreographed the show, and he even took the direction in a slightly different direction than I’d seen at other incarnations of the musical. The cast was all finely selected, and the intimate space made the whole production feel a little more like it could be in 1930s Berlin.
Deaf West’s Spring Awakening on Broadway
Spring Awakening is a show that has been near and dear to my heart since I first saw it just before it closed on Broadway in 2009. The show’s themes still resonate today, and the lyrics of the musical are truly poetry. When I heard Deaf West would be interpreting the show in L.A., I was so sad to miss it, so naturally, when it came to NYC, I got my ticket immediately. The sign language adds another element to the show’s narrative in a brilliant way, and given that lack of honest, open communication is central to the storyline, the incorporation of another language to make the show understandable to even more people fits incredibly well.
Fun Home on Broadway
I’ve never seen a musical quite like Fun Home. The music wasn’t exactly something you’d leave humming, but it was something you’d want to listen to over and over. The cast told the story sincerely, and the three actresses playing the lead character were phenomenal (along with everyone in the show). It’s not your typical family story, but I think it’s relatable because it’s much more real.
The King and I at the Lincoln Center
Honestly, The King and I has never been a favorite of mine, but this production was too good to not love it. The set and costumes were stunning. The cast was lovely and oh so talented. I must mention that while I did not see Kelly O’Hara in her Tony Award Winning performance, I was thrilled to see Betsy Morgan, who I have had the chance to see on stage several times in the past. Her stage presence is wonderful, and when she sings, you can’t help but root for her. No matter who you see in this production, the show is so well put together, that you will enjoy every moment of it.