The only thing I hate more than sitting through bad theater is sorting through my programs at the end of the year and realizing how much crap I saw. But I get to remind myself of blissful moments, too. Here is my much too short roundup of what scored and what sucked in 2005.
Altar Boyz (Dodger Stages, open run) It’s no miracle that this musical spoof about a Christian boy band is so heavenly. The writing is hilarious, the performers are wonderful (particularly Tyler Maynard, who rejoins the show in January) and the message is refreshingly uncynical.
The Cherry Orchard (Classical Theatre of Harlem, closed) One of the city’s most inventive and consistently brilliant companies mounted this stunning, stripped down version of Chekhov’s seminal play.
Christine Jorgensen Reveals (59E59, closed) Lip-syncher extraordinaire Bradford Louryk channeled America’s first famous transgendered woman at 59E59 before heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this past summer. The show was so successful that it’s returning for a limited run (Dodger Stages, Dec 29–late Jan).
Circus Contraption’s Grand American Traveling Dime Museum (Theater for the New City, closed) The acclaimed Seattle-based troupe made its New York debut with this recreation/tribute to lowbrow, early 20th-century entertainment.
Serenade & Philosopher Fox (Collective Unconscious, closed) Two profound one-acts about modern morality by Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek produced by the East River Commedia collective. Troy Lavallee, who played the Fox, is going to be a star. (The last time I felt this about an actor was when I saw a guy named Mark Ruffalo off-Broadway in the mid-90s.)
A Mother, a Daughter, and a Gun (Dodger Stages, closed) This atrocious “comedy” wasted two brilliant actresses (Olympia Dukakis and Veanne Cox) and made me wish that the gun in question contained real bullets so someone could shoot me.
The Cherry Orchard (Atlantic Theater Company, closed) Everything the Classical Theatre of Harlem did right, these folks did wrong.
Normal (Connelly Theater, closed) A heartfelt musical about anorexia that made me gag. Oh sorry, wrong eating disorder.
Rebel Without a Cause (Lion Theatre, closed) While a stage adaptation of the classic (and campy) 1955 film doesn’t sound like a good idea, this inept, amateurish production prompted my mother (who came as my guest) to spank me. And I’m 34 years old!
Trolls (Actors’ Playhouse, closed) Although it’s true middle-aged gay men are woefully underrepresented on stage, if this lackluster musical is the best they have to offer, I implore them to go back into their closets.