Chief Los Angeles Critic
It was a stellar year for theatre in Los Angeles. Broadway touring casts shined onstage at the Pantages, Ahmanson, Geffen Playhouse and The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. After reviewing over 30 theatrical productions, I narrowed my list down to my 10 Top Favorites for 2018:
1. “Come From Away" by Irene Sankoff and David Hein was inspired by the selfless people in the city of Gander, who comforted 7,000 strangers right after 9/11 who had to land at their local airport. This 100 minute musical is storytelling at its finest told through song and dance.
2. "The Bitter Game” is a high-impact, immersive theater experience by playwright and talented actor Keith A. Wallace. This one-man show showcases Wallace portraying multi-characters divided into five acts, and structured as the four quarters and overtime of a basketball game.
3. “Dear Evan Hansen” - I listen to your music almost daily. Sincerely, Jill Weinlein
4. “School of Rock” will have you singing “Stick it to the Man” all the way home.
5. “On Your Feet!” portrays Cuban-American life, family love, discrimination in the music-business and hope, while weaving the Estefan’s beloved songs that include “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “Don’t Wanna Lose You Now,” “Anything for You,” and “Turn the Beat Around.”
6. “Black” British playwright, actor and storyteller Michael Washington Brown offers a multimedia experience, enhanced with images and music, as Brown examines race from a global perspective. It’s a study of black history, music, sociology, and psychology.
7. “Blues in the Night” features four exquisite singers and six soulful musicians transporting the audience on a historical journey while performing 27 songs by the great Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Benny Goodman and Johnny Mercer.
8. “Beethoven” at the age of nine, while attempting to play one of Beethoven’s most recognized and beloved piece’s Fur Elise, Hershey Felder developed an interest in one of the world’s greatest composers. He tells a masterful story about the life of Ludwig van Beethoven.
9. "The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk” is a fascinating historical love story about the great painter Marc Chagall. This theatrical journey enlightens the audience about his hardship and bigotry as a Jew living through both World Wars.
10. “Sell/Buy/Date” made its world premier in 2016 at Manhattan Theatre Club in New York with Jones longtime collaborator and director Carolyn Cantor. At the Geffen Playhouse they offered the audience a humanizing experience about the “oldest profession” prostitution and trafficking women.
Here’s to another sensational year of theatre in LA for 2019. Happy New Year!