rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009

WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#1
Posted: 12/20/09 at 5:37pm
Top ten:
1) HAIR
-Gorgeously directed with an impeccable cast, this production will always hold a special place in my heart. From the second the lights went down and the cast walked onstage, I was totally sold. It's a joy from start to finish but it's also incredibly moving and touching in many ways. This is theater that inspires, something rare and foreign but clearly not dead. The best musical revival of the last fifteen years.

2) NEXT FALL
-A masterpiece in so many ways, I couldn't be more excited about this show's Broadway transfer. The ensemble is flawless and there are only brief moments in the writing that don't work but they hardly hinder the brilliance of the other 97% of the show. It's incredibly funny but also one of the most moving new plays to hit New York in a while. I hope it wins the Pulitzer and the Tony and I hope it finds an audience on Broadway. This is a play with the potential to change lives.

3) NEXT TO NORMAL
-A startling 180 from the 2ST production, the Broadway production of N2N is an alarmingly powerful experience. I've always had some issues with the first act (not many at all, but they're still there) but find the second act to be very, very close to flawless. The score is, along with SPRING AWAKENING, the best rock score of the last ten years (and one of the best scores in recent memory), and the brilliant, can't-miss lead performance from Alice Ripley deserves to go down in the history books.

4) A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
-This is a STREETCAR that takes its time to tell the story (it's over three hours long) but hardly ever drags or falters. Cate Blanchett, Joel Edgerton, and Robin McLeavey are sensational in their roles and the straight-forward direction doesn't feel stale. Liv Ullman breathes a sexual, raw, real, electric life into this STREETCAR that makes it hard to forget.

5) RAGTIME
-Marcia Milgrom Dodge's overwhelmingly beautiful production of this fantastic musical deserves to run for years and I find it unbelievably upsetting that it may be gone in a month. Christiane Noll, Bobby Steggert, and the rest of the sensational cast are simply perfect. If you don't feel the power, talent, and vigor from the Neil Simon stage flood over you while sitting through this production, you need to have your pulse checked.

6) OUR TOWN
-It's been done to death but the truly ingenious David Cromer managed to breathe new life into this American classic. I found myself swept up in the story and really invested in these characters and was impressed by the minimalist staging and the entirety of the sensational third act. "Minimalist staging" seems to be a new movement on Broadway and directors attempting this approach should take note from Cromer and his impeccable work on OUR TOWN. This is how it should be done.

7) TWELFTH NIGHT
-Waiting in the standby line for hours and hours was very much worth it for this excellent and endlessly entertaining production at the Delacorte in Central Park. Anne Hathaway proved to have retained her theatrical chops and the rest of the cast couldn't be better. Sitting out in Central Park on a warm summer night, watching this blissfully lovely production, I found myself feeling guilty for getting in for free.

8 ) REASONS TO BE PRETTY
-The best new play to open on Broadway in the last year (take that, GOD OF CARNAGE) was LaBute's REASONS TO BE PRETTY. Its awful ad campaign proved a major roadblock in finding an audience, and it's a true shame. If it had, it would have won the Tony and would probably still be running. Thomas Sadoski was very funny and very real in the lead role and the scene where (spoiler?) he finally kicks Steven Pasquale's ass (end spoiler) had the audience wanting to jump out of their seats and cheer. A mature move for LaBute that ultimately pays off to be sure.

9) RUINED
-I had more issues with this play than many others did but that's not to say I didn't still enjoy it very, very much. I still am not sure how I feel about the ending (nearly a year after seeing it) but there is definite brilliance in much of the writing, staging, and acting. Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Condola Rashad, and the powerhouse Saidah Arrika Ekulona each gave masterful performances in this gripping play.

10) THE NORMAN CONQUESTS
-ROUND AND ROUND bumped this play into the latter half of my top 10 (I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as the other two parts) but it's still undoubtedly one of my top ten theatrical experiences of 2009. There's really no eloquent way of putting it; this trio of plays directed with gusto and flair by Matthew Warchus (who should've won the Tony for this and not GOC) is just so damn funny. The cast just couldn't have been better and I regret seeing LIVING TOGETHER and TABLE MANNERS only once.

Honorable mentions: EXIT THE KING, SPEED-THE-PLOW (with Norbert Leo Butz, not with William H. Macy), CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION



Bottom five:
1) ROCK OF AGES
-Just because a musical is "fun" doesn't mean it's good. And to go even further, I didn't find this show to be "fun" at all. Sorry. Just not for me. The cast is fun, I guess, but I just couldn't get over how unfunny and absolutely horrendous the book was, how amateur the direction was, and just how low everyone involved with this show had set the bar. And I'm not talking about the bar that undoubtedly makes an embarrassment of riches every night.

2) MEMPHIS
-We all know how I feel about this feebly constructed show that just seemed to be going through the motions of what it thought a Broadway show should be. There is no substance, the cast is really not up to par, the production is big and brash just for the sake of being big and brash, and it got overall positive reviews from the critics. So go figure.

3) ACCENT ON YOUTH
-A repeat of CURTAINS, although I liked CURTAINS more than AOY, David Hyde Pierce once again tries to save the day in a really unenjoyable show. This time, the production is just so bad that it doesn't work. At all. At times it was painful to sit through. A lumbering bore.

4) WAITING FOR GODOT
-Speaking of lumbering bores, WAITING FOR GODOT got rave reviews, three Tony nominations, and many BWWers love, love, loved it. Count me out. This is just a simple case of different strokes for different folks. I didn't "get" it, I found it to be beyond boring, and only found salvation in the cast who did what they could to make it worthwhile. I was very glad I only spent $10 on my ticket. Sorry folks...just not my cup of tea at all.

5) THE PHILANTHROPIST
-What can be said about this show? Quite honestly, I don't remember much of it besides how awful Matthew Broderick was and how interminable it felt. My review is floating around BWW somewhere so if you want specifics, look there. Because I forgot most of this dismissible production. I do remember clearly not enjoying myself.

Not-so-honorable mentions: HAPPINESS, BYE BYE BIRDIE, HAMLET, THE WIZ, THE STORY OF MY LIFE



2009 was, overall, a really strong year in theater in my opinion. Here's hoping 2010 tops it.

If I forgot something, I might edit. But I think this is should be it unless there's a glaring omission somewhere. And there are things I haven't seen yet (like FELA!, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, etc).







Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
Updated On: 12/20/09 at 05:37 PM
Yankeefan007
Broadway Legend
joined:3/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/20/04
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#2
Posted: 12/20/09 at 6:26pm
Thanks for posting this!
Barney Stinson
Leading Actor
joined:5/1/09
Leading Actor
joined:
5/1/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#2
Posted: 12/20/09 at 6:47pm
Norman Conquests only at #10, and ROA as worst of the season?

Somebody needs to develop a sense of humor. And fast. Not knocking you or your opinion, I just feel bad for you wicked. Lighten up.

WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#3
Posted: 12/20/09 at 7:18pm
Thank you for your pity. WTF...
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
Play  Esq. Profile PhotoPlay  Esq. Profile Photo
Play Esq.
Broadway Legend
joined:7/10/09
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/10/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#4
Posted: 12/20/09 at 7:30pm
Dude: we all stomach the "rOcKS'@" series of reviews...but this top ten BS is getting a wee bit self-indulgent. There are other threads with "best/worst of 2009" by the way.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#5
Posted: 12/20/09 at 7:41pm
Can I ask what the hell the big deal is? Relax.

Sorry you all have to "stomach" my reviews.

The bitterness and nastiness on this board has not gone away in the five years I've been posting on here. It's just gotten more ridiculous and uncalled for. Why bother to take the time to even post it? In short, just shut up and don't read what I have to say if you don't want to. Thanks.

Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
Updated On: 12/20/09 at 07:41 PM
BroadwayGuy12 Profile PhotoBroadwayGuy12 Profile Photo
BroadwayGuy12
Broadway Star
joined:12/22/07
Broadway Star
joined:
12/22/07
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#6
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:09pm
NEXT TO NORMAL, HAIR and RAGTIME were my top three for the year. I'm still upset I missed REASONS and TWELFTH NIGHT (and will be missing STREETCAR), but I'm very much looking forward to NEXT FALL in 2010.

I haven't seen any of your bottom five, although I guess that's lucky for me. I have seen HAMLET and BIRDIE though...the former I enjoyed, but I'm definitely with you on your placement of the latter.
snarkywannabedreamer Profile Photosnarkywannabedreamer Profile Photo
snarkywannabedreamer
Leading Actor
joined:2/12/09
Leading Actor
joined:
2/12/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#7
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:11pm
Comically ironic that you immediately get so wounded by people's criticism of YOUR criticism. HAHAHAHA Can you not see the hypocrisy?

You cry that the board is full of "bitterness" and "nastiness" while you seem to have no problem cutting down the hard and passionate work of others.

Now look, I have no problem with you criticizing people's work (if that makes you feel good or worthwhile) but at least have the balls to suck it up when people challenge your reviews or tell you that your opinions are (in their opinion) off base.

You say that we should just shut up and not read what you have to say if we don't like it. I think you should take your own advice when it comes to the criticism you receive.
somethingwicked Profile Photosomethingwicked Profile Photo
somethingwicked
Broadway Legend
joined:5/27/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/27/05
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#8
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:15pm
I'm sorry, but how can you criticize something by saying it was trying to fit the definition of what "it" thought a Broadway show should be?

Who are you to make an assertion like that? Who "makes" a theatrical standard to even hypothesize over something like that? In doing so, you'd be doing exactly what you yourself criticize the show of.

Pretty laughable, if you ask me.
Tonya Pinkins: Then we had a "Lot's Wife" last June that was my personal favorite. I'm still trying to get them to let me sing it at some performance where we get to sing an excerpt that's gone.
Tony Kushner: You can sing it at my funeral.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#9
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:17pm
The comment I responded to had nothing to do with a disagreement on my list. So your post makes no sense, snarkywannabe. And don't try to make it sound like I'm the only person who has negative things to say about shows. If I don't like a show I'm going to say so. Doesn't make me nasty or bitter at all. And it doesn't make me "feel good" to do so.

I am more than willing to hold a conversation about a disagreement someone might have with me but that's not what I was responding to.

If someone disagrees with me and wants to hold a conversation about it, that is perfectly fine by me. I love having conversations with people who disagree with me especially about shows. But I'm not going to do it with someone who is nasty about it.
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
Updated On: 12/20/09 at 08:17 PM
adamgreer Profile Photoadamgreer Profile Photo
adamgreer
Broadway Legend
joined:3/18/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/18/05
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#10
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:21pm
My goodness we're bitchy tonight!
snarkywannabedreamer Profile Photosnarkywannabedreamer Profile Photo
snarkywannabedreamer
Leading Actor
joined:2/12/09
Leading Actor
joined:
2/12/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#11
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:45pm
you were responding to Play Esq. saying that we have to "stomach your reviews", no? or is that just a coincidence that he said that and you were reference some mysterious conversation about stomaching reviews that none of us got to read?

I don't care to debate your opinions. you are entitled to them. I just think you are funny the way you criticize with no concern for the feelings of the people you criticize and THEN get wounded when others say things you find "nasty." Pretty hypocritical and ****-ish if you ask me.
MusicSnob1 Profile PhotoMusicSnob1 Profile Photo
MusicSnob1
Broadway Star
joined:10/19/09
Broadway Star
joined:
10/19/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#12
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:45pm
"I am more than willing to hold a conversation about a disagreement someone might have with me but that's not what I was responding to."

What were you responding to, exactly? Snarky is making A LOT more sense then you right now...


"If someone disagrees with me and wants to hold a conversation about it, that is perfectly fine by me. I love having conversations with people who disagree with me especially about shows. But I'm not going to do it with someone who is nasty about it."

You may perceive it as nasty. Suck it up and rise above it, if you truly want to have the conversation/debate. Don't whine about it. There's always the option of ignoring someone too. You know that, right?

You can't put your opinions out there and not expect a few people to be nasty, b!tchy, or snarky. That's how it works. Get over it and just don't respond to them. IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE HEAT, GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN. re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009
When I think about you, I touch myself.
snarkywannabedreamer Profile Photosnarkywannabedreamer Profile Photo
snarkywannabedreamer
Leading Actor
joined:2/12/09
Leading Actor
joined:
2/12/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#13
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:48pm
Word up, Music Snob.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#14
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:48pm
If I feel like I have a valid argument, I'm not going to ignore what is being said. And ignoring can go for you too. You can't tell me to ignore it when you don't take your own advice.

So I guess we'll all just have to agree to disagree because clearly this is going absolutely nowhere very fast.

If anyone is interested in holding a legit conversation/discussion about my thoughts, that would be great. If not, then forget it.
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
Updated On: 12/20/09 at 08:48 PM
Drunk Chita Rivera Profile PhotoDrunk Chita Rivera Profile Photo
Drunk Chita Rivera
Broadway Legend
joined:3/27/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/27/08
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#15
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:53pm
rOcKS I would like to let you know that I respect all of your opinions. We often have similar opinions for most shows and before I see a show I always take into consideration what you thought about it. Thank you for sharing your opinions.
singtopher Profile Photosingtopher Profile Photo
singtopher
Broadway Legend
joined:12/28/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
12/28/05
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#16
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:56pm
What adamgreer said.
"If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it." -Stephen Colbert
Mildred Plotka Profile PhotoMildred Plotka Profile Photo
Mildred Plotka
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/30/08
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#17
Posted: 12/20/09 at 8:57pm
I happen to agree one hundred percent with Rocks' opinions of Memphis and Rock of Ages. It appalls me how low some people's expectations have sunk. A jukebox musical that caters to drunk straight men and a musical that might as well be a jukebox musical with its generic copy-cat score and plot (it's Dreamgirls meets Hairspray). Rocks appears to have seen most high profile shows on and off-Broadway from 2009, so why shouldn't he make his own list and put it in its own thread? At least he saw the shows and formed his own opinions.

Broadway is never going to get better if we continue to support, encourage, and praise absolute **** like Rock of Ages and Memphis. They're generic, pandering, low-brow, poorly constructed, and idiotic. If that's the kind of stuff you like, well, then I feel sorry for you. Once you've had musical theatre caviar, as I'm sure Rocks has had more than his share of, why should you be expected to eat dog food?

Also, someone critiquing a show doesn't leave them open for personal attacks.

As a longtime lover of Broadway and musical theatre especially I find the current state of Broadway and the so-called fans of Broadway on this board welcoming of these juvenile, pandering trends to be the saddest thing of all. You'd rather blame someone on a message board than your own poorly constructed standards/aesthetic. Ugh.
"Broadway...I'll lick you yet!"
snarkywannabedreamer Profile Photosnarkywannabedreamer Profile Photo
snarkywannabedreamer
Leading Actor
joined:2/12/09
Leading Actor
joined:
2/12/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#18
Posted: 12/20/09 at 9:05pm
I feel sorry for anyone that thinks Broadway should only serve one set of tastes. Shakespeare wrote beautiful plays, some of the greatest artistic achievements in theater, but he also wrote naughty, bawdy theater for the masses. He wrote s*&t just like ROA back in the day.

Personally, I love a world where I can have both. I love artists who can create both. yeah, I like "Rock Of Ages." But I would hate a Broadway that ONLY had that kind of show... just like I would hate it if it only provided any one kind of theater experience.

Snobbery is boring.
WiCkEDrOcKS Profile PhotoWiCkEDrOcKS Profile Photo
WiCkEDrOcKS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/13/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/13/04
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#19
Posted: 12/20/09 at 9:11pm
I am fine with people having different tastes, if that post was referring to me. I totally understand that as I've said. It's not what's been said in this thread that I object to per se, it's how it's been said.
Current Avatar: Cynthia Erivo, bringing down the house in The Color Purple.
Updated On: 12/20/09 at 09:11 PM
Mildred Plotka Profile PhotoMildred Plotka Profile Photo
Mildred Plotka
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/30/08
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#20
Posted: 12/20/09 at 9:15pm
And I feel sorry for anyone who thinks crap like Rock of Ages and Memphis belong anywhere else than Las Vegas or a Cruise Ship.

Broadway's lowering of its artistic standards is the reason for its current artistic state (musical theatre wise, not plays). Most of the crap on Broadway these days makes golden age flops look like sparkling achievements in comparison.

There is a way to have fun, harmless entertainment without pandering to the lowest common denominator. It's done with style, precision, and attention to detail. Throwing together a bunch of billboard hits, copying your idea of a musical, or even choosing your next Broadway project from your netflix wish list isn't the way to create fun entertainment. It's lazy. It's stupid. And it's just plain sad,

Do some actual research about the history of Broadway pre-Rent and then we'll talk. Most of the people arguing their points here have no broad knowledge of the genre pre-Rent.
"Broadway...I'll lick you yet!"
singalongsong2 Profile Photosingalongsong2 Profile Photo
singalongsong2
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/11/08
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#21
Posted: 12/20/09 at 9:24pm
rocks, I just want to say that I enjoy reading your reviews. Thank you for taking the time to share. :)
bwayfan7000 Profile Photobwayfan7000 Profile Photo
bwayfan7000
Broadway Legend
joined:3/28/09
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/28/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#22
Posted: 12/20/09 at 9:28pm
If anyone disagrees so heartily with rocks's opinions, post your own thread, then!
I, for one, look totally forward to reading rocks's opinions on shows. (Because what rocks says is pretty much always right). No need to get mean here.
"Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos."-Stephen Sondheim
snarkywannabedreamer Profile Photosnarkywannabedreamer Profile Photo
snarkywannabedreamer
Leading Actor
joined:2/12/09
Leading Actor
joined:
2/12/09
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#23
Posted: 12/20/09 at 9:30pm
Mildred, I think YOU are the one that needs to do research Pre-Rent if you think that everything on Broadway before then lived up to an artistic standard higher than ROA.
Mildred Plotka Profile PhotoMildred Plotka Profile Photo
Mildred Plotka
Broadway Legend
joined:7/30/08
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/30/08
re: rOcKS' Best & Worst of 2009#24
Posted: 12/20/09 at 9:31pm
And I think people are entitled to enjoy mediocrity too. But don't get pissed off when someone exposes your mediocre (or often downright horrid) show for what it is. If you're going to like crap, be prepared for it to be disliked.
"Broadway...I'll lick you yet!"