Roma Torre submits her picks for the top 10 Broadway shows of 2014.
The business of Broadway can be brutal. While attendance and gross sales are at record-breaking highs this year with the help of crowd-pleasing musicals and celebrity-driven vehicles, the Great White Way is stained with blood as some of the season's best-reviewed shows, stuck in the red, fight for their lives. And two of them, "Love Letters" and "Side Show," sadly put up closing notices much too prematurely.
Of the 38 theatrical works that opened on Broadway this year, plays outnumbered musicals 24 to 14, but few of the plays have survived, and most will be gone by the spring. So here now, in no particular order, my top 10 Broadway shows of the year:
Propelled by the Carole King songbook and Jessie Mueller's stellar performance, the Tony-winning "Beautiful" remains a thing of beauty.
"All The Way," also reality-based, focused on President Lyndon Johnson's bold push for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But it was Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston's stunning turn that turned this one a huge winner.
"Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill" gave us yet another stunner when Audra McDonald simply embodied the great Billie Holiday, earning her a record sixth Tony award.
Another pair of original plays took our breath away this year. "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime" left us awestruck with its brilliant marriage of technology and stagecraft, while the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Disgraced" shook our political and moral sensibilities to the core. An all-star revival of Edward Albee's 1967 Pulitzer Prize winner proves once again that classic plays, well-staged, never get old.
Two other revivals stand the test of time. Scott Ellis' fresh take on the charmingly eccentric "You Can't Take It With You" gave us new reasons to laugh at the 1930s comedy, and John Rando turned the Leonard Bernstein tuner "On The Town" into a helluva show all over again.
Now that Sting stepped in to help his listing musical stay afloat, hopefully the wonderful "The Last Ship" will live to sail well into the new year.
And finally, "Side Show" ends the season on a bittersweet note. This deeply felt, beautifully performed musical never found its audience and must leave us on January 4.
Here's to happier endings in the new year.