Monday, December 02, 2019

The Best of the Decade 2010-19: My Favorite New Musicals Seen Onstage

Since the beginning of 2010, I've seen about 300 live musicals, typically about 30 per year.

These have ranged from longstanding classics to world premieres, from Broadway and London's West End down to community theater and high school productions--and at virtually every level and venue-type in between.

For my annual rankings of "Best Musicals Seen Onstage"--posted in late December since 2010; you can find these lists in the Blog Archives--I have cited the best musical productions seen each year, regardless of vintage.

Not surprisingly, well-done renditions of all-time favorite musicals such as Les Miserables, West Side Story, The Producers, Cabaret, The Sound of Music, Wicked, Avenue Q and various Stephen Sondheim shows have been usual suspects high on these lists.

"The Best Musicals I Saw Onstage in 2019" will be a separate post and include shows both old and new.

But this, my initial Best of the Decade category for 2010-19--you can find "My Favorite New Musicals of the '00s" here--will focus solely on musicals first staged on Broadway or in Chicago since the start of 2010.

Hence, new musicals this decade.

There may be a few--whether selected below or just that I considered eligible--that originated in London before this decade but didn't hit Broadway and/or Chicago until during it (e.g. Sister Act).  I'm also allowing at least one show (Next to Normal) that bowed on Broadway in 2009 but whose first tour didn't hit Chicago until this decade.

Although I may have gotten a decent inkling of some shows via cast recordings, YouTube clips, Tony Award telecasts, etc., only musicals I saw onstage at least once this decade are included in my picks or considerations. But I saw about 125 new musicals, including 9 of 10 Best Musical Tony winners and 30 of 42 nominees.

I have not seen Hadestown, the 2019 Tony winner, or a few other notable shows.

Using the Tony Award for Best New Musical category as a point of reference, new stage musicals with pre-existing origins or songs--Newsies, An American in Paris, Once, School of Rock, etc.--are eligible.

Any new musical productions I saw in Chicagoland count, even if the show never ran on Broadway or in London. But although a musical I love--The Visit--finally reached Broadway in 2015 after a 14-year gestation, and I saw it there, I'm not including it here as it was on my Best of 2000-09 list.

I will not factor in revues, although Sondheim on Sondheim and Baritones Unbound were both fantastic. And Springsteen on Broadway will be covered in another category.

As noted, some shows I saw multiple times in the decade, while others just once and perhaps not recently. But there are actually a few musicals I liked a good bit less upon a second viewing (while trying not to weigh any specific production too heavily).

So, as inherent in all my lists to come throughout this month, this one is replete with flaws, whims, inconsistencies, incongruities, yada, yada, yada.

But I think it's about time to raise the curtain.

The Best New Stage Musicals of the Decade

1. Hamilton
Seen on Broadway tour production in Chicago; 3 times.

2. The Book of Mormon
Seen on Broadway once; National Tours in Chicago, 3 times.

3. Moulin Rouge
Seen pre-Broadway in Boston

4. Dear Evan Hansen
Seen on National Tour in Chicago

5. Come From Away
Seen pre-Broadway in Washington, DC; National Tour in Chicago

6. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Seen on National Tours in Chicago, twice.

7. Matilda
Seen in London; National Tour in Chicago; Local production

8. Kinky Boots
Seen pre-Broadway in Chicago; National Tour in Chicago

9. Next to Normal
Seen on National Tour in Chicago; Local Productions, 3 times

10. Tootsie
Seen pre-Broadway in Chicago

11. Bright Star
Seen as a local Chicago production

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)

Aftermath (an unauthorized Rolling Stones musical in Chicago) 
An American in Paris
The Band's Visit
The Bridges of Madison County
A Christmas Story
Finding Neverland
Fun Home
The Jungle Book
The Last Ship
On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Musical
Ride the Cyclone

I did not include links to my reviews of these shows, but you should be able to find most using the Search Box.

No comments: