Saturday, December 23, 2017

Best of 2017 (and Worst)

Happy Holidays and thanks to everyone who’s a regular or occasional reader of Theatre’s Leiter Side. The blog began in the fall of 2012 when I was a nominator for the Drama Desk Awards. It’s therefore been active for over five years and has covered well over 1,000 shows. Midway through that time,—which both aggregates and excerpts numerous reviews and also provides a numerical score for each of them—came into existence. To date, 484 of my reviews have appeared on that site.

It’s now the time when reviewers are asked to pick their best of the year. Over the course of 2017, from January through December, I covered 198 shows. The number might have been considerably higher except that, for the first half of the year, I wasn’t always able to acquire press invitations, so I missed some potentially important work. For the second half, at least beginning in late June, I returned to the Drama Desk as a voter, which gave me access to more productions. However, various factors—such as scheduling conflicts or failing to receive press invitations—prevented me from seeing everything.

Looking back over my reviews for 2017 I notice I gave my highest recommendation of five stars and two thumbs up to 22 shows, Broadway and Off, while I gave only four shows my lowest grade, one star and two thumbs down.

Here are the five-star, two thumbs up offerings, in alphabetical order; titles beginning with articles are listed as such, i.e., The Emperor Jones, rather than Emperor Jones, The.

Reviews for these shows can be found by using the search box in the upper left hand corner of this page. 

Amerike—The Golden Land
Cross That River
Cry Havoc
Derren Brown: Secret
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me
Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train
Off the Meter, On the Record
Once on this Island 
Prince of Broadway
School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play
SpongeBob SquarePants
The Band’s Visit
The Emperor Jones
The Little Foxes
The Play that Goes Wrong
The Winter’s Tale
Woody Sez
Zero Hour

Narrowing this down to the top ten, we get the following, again in alphabetical order, with an (OB) for Off-Broadway, a (B) for Broadway, and an (R) for revivals:

Charm (OB) 
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (OB) 
Indecent (OB and B) 
Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (OB; R) 
Once on this Island (B; R) 
School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play (OB) 
SpongeBob SquarePants 
The Band’s Visit (OB and B) 
The Little Foxes (B; R) 
The Play That Goes Wrong (B)

The four shows that landed at the bottom of the pile, all of them Off Broadway, are as follows:

The Great American Drama
Pressing Matters
Come Light My Cigarette
Rhinoceros (R) [in Yiddish] 

That wraps it up for 2017. Wishing you all warm holiday wishes, I look forward to catching your theatergoing eye in 2018.