I think 2018 will go down as a “mixed bag” type of year for Broadway. We saw some extreme lows and not very many highs. We saw panic in the streets of the old guard who were worried that 42nd St was becoming to commercial. At the same time, we saw shows that attracted new audiences to their theatres and others that told stories that deserved much needed attention.
So rather than try to rank what I feel were the “best” shows of 2018, I want to tell you what were my favorites. These were shows that might not have been critic/award darlings, yet made me laugh, cry, ponder and inspired. These are in no particular order and I’m breaking into plays and musicals. Furthermore, these are shows that opened in 2018.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
What you may not know about me is that my Harry Potter fandom runs deep. So count me as one of the giddy fans who was besides themselves that this was opening in New York. While it’s certainly a task to take it all in, but time wise and financially, it’s definitely worth it. A definite achievement in both design and staging.
John Lithgow: Stories By Heart
As one of my favorite actors, it was great to see John Lithgow remind Broadway audiences that he’s one of the best actors of the past 40 years on stage and screen.
Angels in America
Filled with remarkable performances, this show deserved every accolade it received. I’ve heard from more than one person that the revival was much superior to the original production from those who had seen both.
Watching 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, if you told me that within a decade Michael Cera would become one of today best stage actors and Chris Evans would be one of the biggest stars in the world, I wouldn’t believe you. But Lobby Hero is a shining example of just how good these two are. As soon as Evans wants to hang up Captain America’s shield to tread the boards, I would definitely welcome that.
Given its early and limited run, I really hope that Tony voters don’t forget about this show because Janet McTeer gave one of the best performances I’ve seen this decade.
Head Over Heels
Props to this show for not being a typical jukebox musical. Fresh storytelling, groundbreaking casting, a positive message, and lots of fun.
My early pick for a Tony dark horse contender, The Prom is fantastic. While it certainly appeals to the audiences of its subject matter, I found my 37 year-old self relating to a lot of the material much more than I had expected.
Y’all can come at me on this but this truly was one of my favorite shows of 2018. I’m a sucker for innovate design and this one is chock full of it. Plus, watching Patti Murin give a career performance is a spectacle to see.
My Fair Lady
This was the surprise of the year for me. I did not expect to like this production as much as I did. I was genuinely surprised with how much I like Lauren Ambrose in the role and am clamoring to try to see Laura Benanti in it now.
Still my favorite R&H score, this will always be the most interesting show in their library. Through a 2018 lens, there is so much to discuss and ponder when it comes to this show and this production certainly promoted that. Plus, it featured some of the very best choreography I’ve ever seen.