In a year marked with theatrical film adaptations and jukebox musicals, these Broadway front-runners paved the way. Below, the five best productions we saw this year (to date), which all received perfect four-star ratings from our critic, Matt Windman.
Read our list of the worst of Broadway in 2018 at amny.com/entertainment.
“Angels in America”
Coming to New York City from London’s National Theatre with an all-star cast led by Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield, “Angels in America” was already gunning for the Tonys before it even opened. “Angels in America” closed at the Neil Simon Theatre in July, but not before winning best revival of a play and sweeping the critics’ circle. The drama, subtitled “A Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” told its story of the 1980s AIDS crisis in New York in two separate four-hour parts. “Taking in the play is not easy. In addition to its length, many sequences are bizarre, didactic and choppy,” Windman wrote. “But there is no denying its theatrical brilliance, literary ambition and cultural relevance.”
“The Ferryman” was easily the best production to open during the fall theater rush, with an unmatched plot riddled with excitement. The Sam Mendes-directed masterpiece has it all: family traditions, tension, passion, politics and betrayal. “In lesser hands, “The Ferryman” may have come off as pure hokum, but Mendes makes it absolutely entrancing, bringing out many intense, full-bodied performances, particularly from Donnelly, who brilliantly conveys Caitlin’s raw vitality, vulnerability and stifled rage,” Windman wrote. The production is playing an extended run at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, with dates through July 7.
“My Fair Lady”
How can one follow a critically acclaimed 1956 opening starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison? Director Bartlett Sher manages just fine. A perfectly cast leading duo helps support a refreshed take on “My Fair Lady,” with Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) as “a radiant” Eliza and Harry Hadden-Paton (“Downton Abbey”) as Higgins. “The revival has been staged in Sher’s familiar style of making a classic feel fresh and dynamic without totally disregarding the original script and score, incorporating superb production values (including a two-story revolving set for Higgins’ home) and bringing out layered performances from great actors,” our critic wrote in his review. The production opened in April and still has dates stretching through June at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center Theater.
“The Boys in the Band”
Broadway was gifted with “The Boys in the Band” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mart Crowley’s 1968 drama. But then, we wanted more. This revival of sorts starred Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer and Andrew Rannells, and narrowly missed the cut for the 2018 Tony Awards. In just a short stint, the production set in an Upper East Side apartment proved “to be not just a historic artifact, but a witty, gripping and surprising drama that is just as enjoyable as it is menacing,” Windman wrote.
"The Broadway adaptation of the 1976 satirical film (starring Bryan Cranston as the unhinged veteran television newsman Howard Beale and built upon a busy and buzzing staging by international director Ivo van Hove) is freewheeling, fast and furious and absolutely mesmerizing," Windman writes.