Top 10 Plays and Musicals of 2018
Theatre is expensive. I also work every single day. It’s not as possible for me to see good theatre as I would like. But still, there was some great theatre in 2018 that I saw.
So, these are the shows I saw in 2018, ranked in countdown form. Some of them were good, some of them were bad. I don’t get to see many shows while I’m working, so give me a break.
I am fully aware that I still have to see shows like To Kill a Mockingbird and Network.
For criteria, the show had to be playing in 2018, and I had to see it. It’s fairly simple.
So let’s get to it.
According to Andrew, these are the best plays and musicals (that I saw) in 2018.
John Lithgow: Stories by Heart
Leave it to King John to impress me with everything he does. I seriously had no idea what to expect when I walked in to see Stories by Heart. When I walked out I realized how dumb I was- I was watching Lithgow recite and perform stories he had learned… by heart.
The one-man show is mesmerizing. Lithgow’s voices and extremely specific pantomime show just how talented his is as an actor. I couldn’t mime shaving a guy and consistently be able to go back to the same exact spot every time to take a razor to the invisible guy’s face.
The Parisian Woman
I feel like now that this show is out of my theatre I can finally give it the recognition it deserves.
I saw three really bad shows in 2018 and this was one of them. What made it worse was that I had to watch terrible dialogue being performed by irrelevant actors 8 times per week.
The phrase “House hunting” with a peculiar questioning inflection at the end will be forever burned into my mind.
Thanks to the cast for this. Don’t send me any Christmas Cards.
Gettin' the Band Back Together
“What you’re about to see is a completely original musical!” Said librettist/producer Ken Davenport, in a scripted curtain speech before this train wreck of a piece.
Not even the radiant Marilu Henner could save this one.
There’s a 6 minute song sung by the main character’s best friend about how he fucked the main character’s mom. And it will probably live in every character actor’s book forever until the end of time
This one was nominated for Best Play at the Tony Awards. Why?
I think this was the one play I didn’t understand at all. What was the relationship between the three actors? Where were they? What was the overarching world throughout the piece? And why were they constantly talking about children as if it seemingly had nothing do with them.
All of these questions and more were not answered at all in The Children.
The Top 10:
I have a problem with the way the book of Carousel is written, but there are lots of good things about this revival. Joshua Henry was absolutely brilliant. Lindsay Mendez had a well-deserved Tony-winning turn. I could listen to the music forever. The dancing is ridiculous. Again, not my favorite, but $45 was worth it for a two hour and forty-five minute musical about a main character with an unfinished character arc.
9. The Nap
For those of you who missed this one (perhaps you’re watching from Schenectady), you missed snooker being played in real time on stage. I cannot snappy the dialogue is (written by the same guy who wrote One Man Two Guvnors), and how cool the set was. But the best part of the play had to be the live, ad-libbed commentary during the live snooker match at the end. Also LIVE SNOOKER.
I didn’t dislike this play as much as I thought I would. Most of that, in part, is thanks to Janet McTeer, who carries the piece on her back in the role of Sarah Bernhardt, one of the greatest actresses to ever live.
I could have less of Theresa Rebeck love story in my life and I would be okay with it. But I would watch Janet McTeer play Hamlet, that much is certain.
7. Moulin Rouge (out-of-town tryout, Boston)
Having seen this play three times before this, I wasn’t as taken with the song choices as other people may have been. Moulin Rouge is a very difficult play to stage, especially when taking away a warped, forced perspective camera, and replacing it with a very clear stage adaptation.
The technical aspects of the show are bananas, and the supporting stars of the show, including Danny Burstein, Sahr Ngaujah, and Tam Mutu, are brilliant. I reserve my opinions about Aaron Tveit and Karen Olivo, tough.
6. Farinelli and the King
I have never seen Mark Rylance live onstage before. Now that I have, I totally understand what everyone was talking about.
Farinelli is a fascinating play about music therapy, told through the tale of King Philip V and his countertenor counterpart, Farinelli. The play, directed by Claire Van Kampen, is done entirely by candlelight (sort of), with full staging as if performed at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. Rylance and Sam Crane (Farinelli) gave incredible performances, and this made Farinelli and the King one of the most underrated places of theatre of 2018.
5. Head Over Heels
This one is near and dear to my heart, and is currently playing (until the 6th) at the Hudson Theatre. Head Over Heels is the show that 2018 needs, blending Elizabethan English, the music of the Go-Go’s, with all the sassiness and fierceness of America in 2018.
Head Over Heels will likely serve as a launching point for many young actors, including Bonnie Milligan, who likely (I hope) will win a Tony Award for her efforts.
This is one of the best shows on Broadway, and it deserves your respect, and definitely deserves to run for longer than it was. I think the critics just hated that it existed rather than analyzing it for what it was.
4. Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical
This musical is everything that theatre school taught me what theatre could be: innovative, fun, and poignant. Spongebob is everything. Even though every song has its own unique musical style, you come to learn that each character has his or her own musical style.
I saw an understudy for Spongebob at the performance that I went to, but one could tell that the feats of both strength and vocal range an actor were substantial, and that the role requires a truly unique actor to play the part. Also, Gavin Creel as Squidward was Tony-worthy and you all know it.
3. Angels in America
I did Angels in college, and let me tell you that it was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do. Joe Pitt is not an easy, or a likeable character to play. But Lee Pace made me at least
understand what Joe was going through. Perhaps I didn’t have the maturity to play the part like I probably do now.
Regardless, this production of Angels was mind-blowing. Andrew Garfield was (albeit controversially) just as over the top as Prior Walter would be. Nathan Lane was terrifying as Roy Cohn, while never losing that spark of Nathan Lane-ness that we’ve come to know and love.
As the play slowly loses its grip on reality, the effects get more and more bonkers. From the choreography of the Angel to the lighting effects, this production of Angels in America deserved all the recognition it received at the Tony Awards.
2. The Ferryman
I will never forget how the end of this play made me feel. What I felt was a combination of anger, fear, shock, and sadness. I was shaking with many different emotions, reaching a new level of friendship with my friend Gabby as we clung to each other as the lights faded.
Since this play is still on Broadway, I won’t tell you what happens. Just know a few things: It’s long, the accents are thick, and this play should win every single Tony Award it’s nominated for.
The Ferryman is absolutely brilliant, and I’m so happy that people are flocking to see this play.
1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Somehow, I scored tickets to this show while it was still in previews. $150 for both parts. Not a bad deal for 3rd row balcony with a booster seat.
The play is bad fan fiction. I’m not going to lie, it’s bad fan fiction.
Still, the play is THAT GOOD. The effects. The actors making choices that make even the most cringe-worthy lines seem real, emotional, and dramatic. The costumes and the music. It’s all excellent.
I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic by any stretch of the imagination, but this play touched something in me that not many other plays this year have. It is excellent.
Also, shoutout to my friend and co-worker Sarita for booking a part in this magical production!
Harry Potter earns my top spot as the best theatrical experience I was apart of this year.
What plays and musical did you see that were your favorites in 2018? Leave a comment down below.
Be sure to check out the rest of According to Andrew's Best of 2018 spread by clicking HERE.