Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Best of 2018: The Best Musicals I Saw Onstage

Other than sensational rock concerts by cherished artists, and perhaps a few transcendent movies, there is no art form I love more than musical theater.

Even without any trips to New York or London this year, I saw 32 "Broadway" musicals in 2018, including several fantastic ones.

With the caveat that in my reviews--a link is provided for each show making my list below--I am really judging a particular production as much as the musical itself, I saw terrific touring renditions of such classics as Hello, Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof.

While it may seem a bit unfair to gauge big budget national tours--and even the continuing Chicago sit-down production of Hamilton--against local productions, you'll see that several area troupes are well-represented.

All the musicals I saw in 2018
In fact, not making my Top 11 or Honorable Mention below are a few high-profile world premieres--Pretty Woman, The Cher Show, A Taste of Things to Come, Heartbreak Hotel--that I didn't quite love. (The first two cited are currently running on Broadway.)

So I am not so concerned with the budget, scale or pedigree, but primarily what moves me.

As you'll see, I really liked the pre-Broadway Chicago run of Tootsie, and even more so, a stage version of Moulin Rouge that I happened to catch in Boston. It's scheduled to open on Broadway in Summer 2019.

For whatever it's worth, and however unscientifically determined, here are my picks of:

The Best Musicals I Saw On Stage in 2018:
(Note: All theaters in Chicago proper unless noted; in some cases the theatrical company is cited rather than venue. New shows are denoted with an *)

1. Hamilton - CIBC Theatre / Broadway in Chicago (my review)

2. Moulin Rouge* - Emerson Colonial Theatre, Boston (my review) 
3. Hello Dolly - Oriental Theatre / Broadway in Chicago (my review)

4. Fiddler on the Roof - Cadillac Palace / Broadway in Chicago (my review)

5. The Book of Mormon - Oriental Theatre / Broadway in Chicago (my review)

6. A Little Night Music - BoHo Theatre (my review)

7. Jesus Christ Superstar - Lyric Opera of Chicago (my review) 

8. Ragtime - Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire (my review)

9. Tootsie* - Cadillac Palace / Broadway in Chicago (my review)

10. The Color Purple - Auditorium Theatre / Broadway in Chicago (my review)

11. Miss Saigon - Cadillac Palace / Broadway in Chicago (my review)

Honorable Mention
In preference order

- Haymarket* - Underscore Theatre Co. (my review) 
- Merrily We Roll Along - Porchlight Music Theatre (my review)
- Women of Soul - Black Ensemble Theatre (my review)
- Striking Out - Annoyance Theatre (my review)
- Company - Mercury Theatre (my review)
- On Your Feet! - Cadillac Palace / Broadway in Chicago (my review)
- Murder for Two - Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire (my review)

As of this writing, Hamilton and Fiddler on the Roof are still running in downtown Chicago, while Women of Soul continues at the Black Ensemble Theatre. 

-- If re-posting lists or highlighting selections, please attribute to: Seth Arkin on SethSaith.com

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