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2010 Theater In Review: The Best Of Broadway

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With the year coming to a close, NY1’s Roma Torre looks back at the best of theater for Broadway 2010 and filed the following report.

This past year was one when Broadway went out on a limb, experimenting with new ways of telling old stories.

Taking the biggest risks were two original musicals from off-Broadway depicting grizzly chapters in history: Kander and Ebb's last work together, The Scottsboro Boys and newcomers Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – both critical hits, but, sadly, box-office flops.

Two extremely ambitious entries from Lincoln Center – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and A Free Man of Color failed to live up to expectations.

Far more successful were the rock-infused shows with familiar tunes. Green Day's American Idiot, Rain, the Beatles clone concert, and Million Dollar Quartet featuring classics from Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, are still cashing in.

Audiences were rapturous over a couple of solo shows: Sherie Rene Scott's Everyday Rapture and Colin Quinn's Jerry Seinfeld-directed Long Story Short.

Two TV-inspired nostalgia trips, The Addams Family and The Pee-Wee Herman Show, managed to draw fans away from their couches.

There were plenty of artful performances this year. My favorites: the British ensemble in The Pitmen Painters and a couple of replacement casts. Next To Normal's real-life husband and wife Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley, and the stellar pairing of Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch in A Little Night Music, gave audiences reason to go back again.

And now, in alphabetical order, my 10 favorite shows that opened on Broadway in 2010:

Arthur Miller's starry A View From the Bridge featuring Liev Schreiber, and the Broadway debut of Scarlett Johansson, who won a Tony for her efforts.

The lushly romantic adaptation of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter has audiences swooning.

So good is Driving Miss Daisy with James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave, it’s staying parked at the Golden Theatre for an added three months.

Another fine revival, Fences, earned Tonys for both its stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

The betting on Broadway is that Mark Rylance gets another Tony nod for his tour de force performance in La Bete.

A re-tooled La Cage Aux Folles is insanely good again.

Red, featuring Alfred Molina’s brilliant portrait of artist Marc Rothko, was a Tony-winning masterpiece.

The luminous Lily Rabe and Al Pacino helped to boost the fortunes of The Merchant of Venice.

The Scottsboro Boys stepped out of the history pages onto the big stage in a boldly original fashion.

And if you appreciate fine acting, Time Stands Still, featuring a divine performance by Laura Linney, was theater heaven.

Here’s to more of that in ‘11.

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