Friday, December 28, 2012

The Best of 2012: The Best Musicals I Saw on Stage (i.e. the best productions)

In a year that didn’t include any trips to New York or London, and therefore no 4-shows-in-3-days clusters, 27 seems like a good number of musicals to have seen on stage.

And though this included few brand new musicals—excepting two World Premieres (Kinky Boots, Hero) and a recent Broadway-bound creation (Bring It On)—12 shows were ones I saw for the first time, while the other 15 were new productions of musicals I’ve long liked (or at least had seen before).

Of the repeats, five done at the community theater or college level were more satisfying than some elaborate Broadway in Chicago touring productions.

My biggest musical disappointment of 2012 was American Idiot, based on the Green Day album of the same name. I love the band, I love the album, I love the songs, but I thoroughly disliked what I perceived as a mish-mash of a musical without any narrative structure. (You can see my review of it here, and of Bring It On here.) I won’t bother telling you about the other musicals I didn’t much like, but below are the ones I did.

I always like to note that I am really ranking the productions I saw, not necessarily the musicals themselves. But whereas the runner-up on my list was an absolutely sensational rendition of one of my all-time favorite musicals, it lost out to an outstanding production of a show I like even better. So some unscientific blend of source musical and specific production come into play in ranking The Best Musicals of 2012, from among those I saw on stage:

1. Les Mis̩rables РBroadway in Chicago (my review)

2. Sunday in the Park with George – Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (my review)

3. The Book of Mormon – Broadway in Chicago (my review)

4. Jersey Boys – Broadway in Chicago (my review)

5. Kinky Boots – Broadway in Chicago (World Premiere) (my review)

6. A Chorus Line – Paramount Theatre, Aurora (my review)

7. South Pacific – Broadway in Chicago (my review)

8. Show Boat – Lyric Opera of Chicago (my review)

9. Hairspray – Drury Lane Oakbrook (my review)

10. Singin’ in the Rain – Drury Lane Oakbrook (my review)

Honorable Mention (in preference order)

- Sister Act – Broadway in Chicago (my review)
- Fela! – Broadway in Chicago (my review)
- Hero – Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire (World Premiere) (my review)
- A Little Night Music – Village Theatre, Glen Ellyn (my review)
- Spring Awakening – Northwestern University (my blog post)
- Brigadoon – Starlight Theatre, Wilmette (my blog post)
- Woody Sez – Northlight Theatre (my review)
- My One and Only – Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire (my review)
- Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Broadway in Chicago (my review)
- Legally Blonde – Devonshire Playhouse, Skokie 
- The Producers – North Shore Theater of Wilmette (my blog post)

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