Seat Filler: Best NYC Theater of 2010
BY Brandon Voss
December 20 2010 11:00 AM ET
4. The Boys in the Band
Transport Group’s startling production of Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking 1968 drama about a boozy birthday shindig gone sour — the play’s first New York revival since 1996 — was the must-attend soiree of the year. Director Jack Cummings III celebrated the humanity of every nelly, self-flagellating gay stereotype in this “site-specific environmental production,” which basically means that a random penthouse space on 26th Street with an awesome view of the Empire State Building was transformed into a 99-seat theater and decorated to look like the host’s funky apartment. Thanks to visceral performances, homey lamp lighting, and the play’s real-time progression, I truly felt like a guest at the party.
3. Angels in America
The 2003 HBO miniseries may pack more emotional punch, but that’s the worst thing I can say about this first New York revival of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize–winning AIDS-era epic at Signature Theatre Company’s Peter Norton Space, where both parts, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, run in repertory with the immeasurable talents of Zachary Quinto, Christian Borle, Frank Wood, Bill Heck, Zoe Kazan, Robin Bartlett, Robin Weigert, and out scene-stealer Billy Porter. Impressive fantasy sequences, effective scenic projections, and a visibly busy backstage crew betray great sweat and skill at work here, but there’s a divine simplicity to Michael Greif’s staging that allows the glorious text and cast to shimmer.
2. The Revival
Directed by Michole Biancosino, this staggering drama by Samuel Brett Williams crackled with cinematic tension at the Lion Theatre. Trent Dawson of As the World Turns starred as Eli, the son of a Southern Baptist preacher who must try to rebuild his late father’s congregation in Arkansas. Pressured to compete with nearby megachurches, the married pastor became an evangelical superstar when he publicly “cleansed” a troubled young drifter named Daniel — an outstanding David Darrow — of his homosexuality, but Eli and the rough-trade hothead were actually having sex on the sly. “It’s hot and cold, but good — hard to explain,” said Daniel, describing the look Eli gave him at a church potluck. “Kinda like makin’ meth.”