It has been an extraordinary year for new American plays. I have had to cheat and add a long Honorable Mention list. In no particular order, here are my Ten (well, actually 11) Best New York productions of 2014:
APPROPRIATE and AN OCTOROON. These two very different plays demonstrate the unique talent of Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins. APPROPRIATE, produced at the Signature, focused on a white family in an old Southern plantation home discovering the shameful aspect of their inheritance. AN OCTOROON, produced at Soho Rep, was a dizzying revision of Dion Boucicault's nineteenth-century hit. Don't miss it when it comes to Brooklyn this Spring.
BOOTYCANDY (Playwrights Horizons). Robert O'Hara's hilarious series of sketches on growing up gay and Black.
OUR LADY OF KIBEHO (Signature). Katori Hall's absorbing play about a teenage girl who has a vision of the Virgin Mary in Rwanda shortly before the horrors that took place in that country. Michael Greif gave this captivating play a brilliant production.
FUN HOME (Public). The best new musical of 2014. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori's adaptation of the classic graphic novel has three actresses playing the central character at three ages. Michael Cerveris is heartbreaking as her closeted gay father. Great score.
THE INVISIBLE HAND (New York Theatre Workshop). The mix of American capitalism and Islamic terrorism set off a powerful chain reaction in Ayed Akhtar's provocative, intelligent play.
THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE (Public). A great score by Michael Friedman, a good book by Itimar Moses, a vivid production by Daniel Aukin and a winning star turn from Adam Chanler-Berat made this story of the friendship of two boys in Brooklyn in the 1970s one of the best musicals of the year.
THE REALISTIC JONESES (Broadway). I'm not sure that Will Eno's oddball dark comedy about communication in marriage belonged in a big Broadway theatre, but it's a fascinating play. Great performances by Marisa Tomei, Tracey Letts and Michael C. Hall.
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (Broadway). The most ravishingly beautiful Broadway score in years; a well-crafted book; simple, but effective staging and grand performances from Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale.
AND HONORABLE MENTION TO:
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME. I don't put this in this year's Top Ten because it is a British import and I included it last year. It's the one Broadway show that should be on everyone's must see list.
MOTHERS AND SONS (Broadway). Terrence McNally's most recent look at where gay men -- at least upper-middle-class urban gay men -- are now. The premise is a bit shaky, but the writing is beautiful.
ON THE TOWN and SIDE SHOW. Two great revivals. John Rando and Joshua Bergasse's production of the Leonard Bernstein classic ON THE TOWN is sheer magic from beginning to end. Even the dated comic scenes take on new life in this production. Bill Condon's rethinking of SIDE SHOW gives the show more coherence and emotional power than the original and Henry Krieger's score -- hardly Bernstein, but still one of the best of the past twenty years, is beautifully sung.
Conor McPherson's sad but riveting THE NIGHT ALIVE (Atlantic), Stephen Adley Guirgis's BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY (Atlantic) and Susan Lori Parks FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (Public).
And the fabulous production of Ionesco's THE KILLERS at Theatre for a New Audience.
THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCES IN 2014
AUDRA McDONALD in LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL
T.R. KNIGHT in POCATELLO
KELLI O'HARA AND STEVEN PASQUALE in THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
QUINCY TYLER BERNSTEIN in GRAND CONCOURSE
TYNE DALY in MOTHERS AND SONS
MICHAEL SHANNON in THE KILLERS
GIDEON GLICK in THE FEW