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2014 Top Ten in Review

              2014 in Review: The Ten Best NYC Stage Productions
                                    By: David Sheward

This has been a curious year for the New York stage, ranging from rethought revivals to heartbreaking new works. Here are my picks for the top ten on and Off-Broadwa

Rebecca Hall, Morgan Spector

y of 2014 in chronological order:

              2014 in Review: The Ten Best NYC Stage Productions
                                    By: David Sheward

This has been a curious year for the New York stage, ranging from rethought revivals to heartbreaking new works. Here are my picks for the top ten on and Off-Broadwa

Rebecca Hall, Morgan Spector

y of 2014 in chronological order:

Roundabout Theatre Company/American Airlines Theatre
The opening moments of Lyndsey Turner’s stunning staging of Sophie Treadwell’s 1928 drama were brief, startling and gripping. A young woman fights her way out of a crowded subway car as sound, lighting, set, and costume design combine to create a harrowing urban nightmare and the tone is set for a riveting portrait of oppression by social convention and economic necessity.
Photo: Joan Marcus

Bryon Cranston

All the Way
Neil Simon Theatre
Robert Schenkkan’s epic depiction of the first years of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency and his efforts to pass meaningful civil right legislation filled the Neil Simon stage with 20 actors playing senators, congressmen, FBI agents, and protestors. Bill Rauch’s direction and the incisive lighting of Jane Cox (who also lit Machinal) kept the action focused so that our attention never wavered. Bryon Cranston’s Broadway debut as the bulldozing Johnson mesmerized.
Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

I Remember Mama
Transport Group/Gym at Judson’s
John Van Druten’s nostalgic 1944 play of a Norwegian immigrant family was given an ingenious restaging by Jack Cummings III with Dane Laffrey’s rummage-sale set of tables laid out with typewriters, books, handkerchiefs, silverware, and black and white photographs. An all-female cast effortlessly transformed into loving parents, struggling teenagers, playful children, busybody aunts, and gruff uncles, creating a vanished world.
Photo: Carol Rosegg

Barbara Andrew, Barbara Barrie

The City of Conversation

Lincoln Center Theater/Mitzi Newhouse Theatre
Jan Maxwell seems to garner awards and
nominations every time she draws a breath, but she truly outdid herself in Anthony Giardina’s witty political play. As a liberal Washington hostess pitted against her conservative son and daughter-in-law, Maxwell skillfully delineated the journey from mover and shaker to diminished but still vital grey eminence. Giardina gives equal voice to both sides of the aisle in a cunning portrait of power and persuasion over four decades.
Photo: Stephanie Berger

Jan Maxwell

Park Avenue Armory
Part jousting tournament, part religious rite, Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh’s mammoth production of the Scottish play drew the theatergoer into its ghoulish world as few stagings have done. Set in the cavernous Park Avenue Armory, the audience was marched to their steep seats, divided into clans. At one end was a Stonehenge arrangement of rocks-the domain of the three witches. At the other, a massive altar adorned by hundreds of candles and early Christian mosaics. The space between became a battlefield where the otherwordly and the humane fought for the soul of Macbeth and all Scotland.
Photo: Stephanie Berger

Keneth Branagh










The Wayside Motor Inn

Signature Theatre Company
A.R. Gurney’s little-known 1977 play of alienation among guests at a generic Boston motel received an insightful revival by director Lila Neugebauer featuring uniformly strong performances from ten Off-Broadway veterans, particularly Rebecca Henderson and Kelly AuCoin as an estranged couple feuding over who gets to keep the pre-digital family photographs.
Photo: Joan Marcus

Will Pullen, Marc Kudisch









The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Barrymore Theatre
A dazzling adaptation by Simon Stephenson of a mostly interior novel with director Marianne Elliott providing the same kind of ingenious theatricality that sparked her staging of War Horse. Newcomer Alex Sharp makes the most impressive Broadway debut in decades as the socially-impaired teenager at the center of this mathematical mystery.
Photo: Joan Marcus

“The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time”


Indian Ink
Roundabout Theatre Company/Laura Pels Theatre
Tom Stoppard’s intriguing 1995 puzzle-box of a play made a belated New York debut in Carey Perloff’s elegant staging for the Roundabout at the Laura Pels. Love and literature are given equal weight as an English poetess’s Indian sojourn is recounted by her loving sister decades later. The regal Rosemary Harris was enchanting as always as the elderly sister, but the play belonged to Romola Garai and Firdous Bamji as the young writer and the Indian painter to whom she is attracted.
Photo: Joan Marcus

Rosemary Harrism Romola Garai, Bhavesh Patel

Scenes from a Marriage

New York Theatre Workshop
Dutch director Ivo van Hove brilliantly deconstructed Ingmar Bergman’s devastating depiction of martial breakdown. Three different sets of actors played the couple in simultaneous settings in the first act leading up to the divorce and then, after a 30-minute intermission when Jan Versweyveld’s elaborate tripartite set is taken down, they formed a weird sort of multivoiced Greek chorus for the second-act aftermath, a symphony of anger and pain.
Photograph: Jan Versweyveld

Dallas Roberts, Roslyn Ruff, Alex Hurt, Susannah Flood, Arliss Howard, Tina Benko


Playwrights Horizons
2014 ends with a bang in the form of Samuel D. Hunter’s multilayered portrait of displacement in modern America. T.R. Knight and a tightly-knit ensemble perfectly limn a disconnected noncommunity of friends, coworkers and family laboring at a chain restaurant in the titular Idaho small city. Hunter has written about lonely outsiders in his home state before but never with such precision and compassion. One of the best, if not the best play of the year.
Photo: Jeremy Daniel

T.R. Knight, Brende Wehle, Brian Hutchison, Crystal Finn

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