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Theater: Best and worst shows of 2014

L-R Gretchen Mol, Hari Dhillon, Karen Pittman, Josh

L-R Gretchen Mol, Hari Dhillon, Karen Pittman, Josh Radnor in "Disgraced" Photo Credit: JOAN MARCUS 2014

2014 may have been awful in terms of new musicals, but there were many great revivals, plus a handful of impressive new plays. Not a single show received zero stars or even half a star, while many received 3.5 or 4 stars.






1. "Machinal"

Sophie Treadwell's 1928 drama about a young woman (Rebecca Hall) desperately seeking freedom from an uncaring society received a stirring, unforgettable revival from the Roundabout.


2. "Violet"

Also from the Roundabout, Jeanine Tesori's country rock musical in which a facially scarred woman (Sutton Foster) journeys across the country to find a televangelist was extraordinary in every capacity.


3. "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"

During a fall season crowded with stars in revivals, this ultra-theatrical London import about a teenage boy with Aspberger's has emerged as a must-see hit.


4. "Disgraced"

Ayad Akhtar's explosive race relations drama about a Pakistani-American corporate attorney whose life suddenly unravels is receiving an engrossing Broadway staging.


5. "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"

Neil Patrick Harris took on one of the most flamboyant and intense roles of all time and gave the performance of a lifetime in this exciting and inventive rock musical.


6. "King Lear"

In a year marked by numerous productions of this play, the superb Shakespeare in the Park version with John Lithgow proved to be simple but exceptional.


7. "The City of Conversation"

Anthony Giardina's absorbing, thought-provoking play about a fashionable hostess (Jan Maxwell) who indirectly shaped D.C. politics deserved a longer run.


8. "Of Mice and Men"

"The best-laid plans of mice and mice often go awry," but the Broadway revival of John Steinback's drama with James Franco, Chris O'Dowd and Leighton Meester couldn't have been better.


9. "Little Me"

This relentlessly silly, jazzy musical comedy received an excellent concert production by City Center Encores! led by Christian Borle and Rachel York.


10. "Allegro"

Rodgers & Hammerstein's experimental, notoriously difficult musical celebrating small-town virtues works surprisingly well in John Doyle's stripped-down Off-Broadway adaptation.







1. "Holler If Ya Hear Me"

This hip-hop musical based on the songs and poems of the late Tupac Shakur was extreme misfire that shuttered quickly.


2. "Love and Information"

Caryl Churchill's kaleidoscopic new work, which resembled a television switching channels every minute, proved to be absolutely puzzling and infuriating.


3. "Poor Behavior"

The latest piece by the prolific Teresa Rebeck was just as insubstantial and undeveloped as her other recent plays. Why does she keep getting produced?


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