Seat Filler: Best NYC Theater of 2010
BY Brandon Voss
December 20 2010 11:00 AM ET
7. The Divine Sister
Legendary drag auteur Charles Busch is back to his old habits at the SoHo Playhouse in this glorious spoof of wimple flicks like The Singing Nun, The Sound of Music, and even Doubt. Directed by out collaborator Carl Andress, Busch channels Rosalind Russell in The Trouble With Angels and His Girl Friday to play a former crime reporter turned Mother Superior of a struggling Pittsburgh convent. “My dear, we are living in a time of great social change,” she says after a sunny guitar strum. “We must do everything in our power to stop it.” Sex and the City’s Julie Halston and Falsettos’ Alison Fraser steal scenes as nuns with a brief but bawdy lesbian flirtation, and Jennifer Van Dyck dons boy drag as a nerdy gay student.
6. The Glass Menagerie
I thought I knew Tennessee Williams’s 1944 memory play, but director Gordon Edelstein pulled out tricks in his pocket for Roundabout’s bold new staging at the Laura Pels Theatre. Our narrator Tom conjured the St. Louis tenement of his youth from a New Orleans hotel room, a concept established by Tom’s typing, reading, and mouthing other characters’ lines. As his smothering mother Amanda, Designing Women’s Judith Ivey cashed in on the role’s comedy without cheapening it, but the real revelation here was Patch Darragh’s unabashedly gay take on Tom. No question that this tipsy swish was out hitting gay bars instead of movies. And when his sister’s gentleman caller arrived, Tom seemed even more smitten than she did.
5. Secrets of the Trade
Known for queer seriocomedies Twilight of the Golds and The Last Sunday in June, out playwright Jonathan Tolins presented a poignant backstage peek at a decade-long correspondence between a precocious theater queen, played by Brighton Beach Memoirs star Noah Robbins, and an irascible gay Broadway director played by incomparable out actor John Glover. Briskly staged at 59E59 Theaters by Matt Shakman, this compelling coming-of-age tale flirted with a sexual affair — a creepy back massage thankfully led nowhere — but focused instead on the complexities of mentorship while avoiding All About Eve cliché. Out NYPD Blue actor Bill Brochtrup costarred as the director’s droll, catty assistant.