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Year in Review

Seat Filler: Best New York Theater of 2014

Seat Filler: Best New York Theater of 2014


The Advocate's man on the NYC theater scene counts down the top 10 LGBT-inclusive productions of the past year.


10. Mala Hierba
Killer Women's Marta Milans steamed up the stage as Liliana, a glamorous Mexican-American trophy wife who rekindles her affair with an unpredictable lesbian lover (Fun Home's Roberta Colindrez), in this spicy and simmering drama by Tanya Saracho, a scribe for HBO's Looking and Girls. Is true lady-love worth the financial and physical risks of escaping an abusive drug lord and his bratty daughter? Telenovelas wish they were this sexy and suspenseful.
Second Stage Uptown at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, closed.


9. The Few
Set in an Idaho trailer right before Y2K, out playwright Samuel D. Hunter's touching drama about missed connection starred Michael Laurence as world-weary Bryan, who returns to work on a newspaper for fellow truckers and finds it overrun by personal ads from folks as lonely as he is. It was worth a long haul just to see out Spring Awakening alum Gideon Glick as Bryan's awkwardly adoring nephew, a gay teen who got kicked out of his house when caught with another boy.
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, closed.


8. Almost, Maine
One of the most produced and most controversial plays in North America, John Cariani's sweet and snowy 2004 rom-com, in which four actors take on almost 20 quirky characters, got a terrific Transport Group revival as quietly thrilling as the aurora borealis. Among the surreal and whimsical vignettes, which bring romantic metaphors to heartwarming life, Cariani and Kevin Isola played a pair of weak-kneed buddies who literally fall -- thunk! -- in love with each other.
Transport Group at the Gym at Judson, closed.


7. Side Show
Darker and brighter, deeper and sharper, out director Bill Condon's reimagining of out composers Henry Krieger and Bill Russell's Tony-nominated 1997 musical stars rafter-rattling marvels Erin Davie and Emily Padgett as conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Matthew Hydzik charms as Buddy, now a closeted gay choreographer who courts one sister, and carnival misfits like the Half-Man Half-Woman have never looked better. American Horror Story: Freak Show, it ain't.
St. James Theatre, through January 4.


6. The City of Conversation
Dropping by a gorgeous Georgetown townhouse in 1979, 1987, and 2008, Anthony Giardina's absorbing and provocative drama starred a luminous Jan Maxwell as Hester, an elegant political hostess forced to choose liberal principles over family when her son marries an ambitious Reaganite. Gay rights are on Hester's agenda -- she jokes that all Republicans are closeted -- so it's an ironic victory when her grandson shows up with his black partner for Obama's inauguration.
Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, closed.


5. Found
One person's trash is everyone's treasure in Hunter Bell, Eli Bolin, and Lee Overtree's wonderfully weird pop musical inspired by the discarded notes and letters collected in Found, a 'zine by Davy Rothbart, who finds himself on an adventure cleverly punctuated by those random paper scraps. Led by hot-nerdy Nick Blaemire as Davy, the quirky and hilarious ensemble included Daniel Everidge as his big gay roomie, who rocks a flyer for a "furry and friendly" bear club.
Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater, closed.


4. Family Play (1979 to Present)
CollaborationTown's Geoffrey Decas O'Donnell, Boo Killebrew, and Jordan Seavey mined their personal experiences, gay and straight, to reenact specific yet universally resonant moments from birth to death and everything in between. Fluidly staged by Lee Sunday Evans on a circular wooden platform, a cast of six in brief but satisfying scenes -- a lesbian couple gets engaged, a gay couple asks a gal pal to be their surrogate, etc. -- raised goosebumps with refreshing sincerity.
CollaborationTown at the New Ohio Theatre, closed.


3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Out director Michael Mayer's glossy, glitter-bombed Broadway premiere of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask's cult rock musical detonated with dynamo Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, an East German singer living as a female after botched gender-reassignment surgery. Andrew Rannells and Michael C. Hall have since stepped into those heels, but Lena Hall continues to butch it up brilliantly as Yitzhak, Hedwig's hubby, who's dying to unleash his inner drag diva.
Belasco Theatre, open-ended.


2. Casa Valentina
Harvey Fierstein's rich, fascinating play was inspired by real-life husbands who identified as heterosexual but congregated in the Catskills during the 1960s to act like housewives. These complicated, oddly homophobic fellas called themselves "transvestites," but modern audiences may've pegged some as gay or transgender. Dolled up by out director Joe Mantello, commanding stage vets such as Patrick Page, John Cullum, and Reed Birney were cross-dressed to impress.
Manhattan Theatre Club at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, closed.


1. Mothers and Sons
Nurtured by Next Fall's Sheryl Kaller, this poignant and powerful drama, gay playwright Terrence McNally's 20th Broadway outing, thoughtfully explores the AIDS epidemic's enduring aftermath. Tyne Daly devastated as a grieving mother visiting her late son's former lover and his younger husband, played respectively by Frederick Weller and out actor Bobby Steggert at their very best. No one writes about AIDS anymore, huh? Good thing McNally never got the memo.
John Golden Theatre, closed.



Out actor Phillip James Brannon anchored out writer-director Robert O'Hara's audacious and uproarious satire about the sexual awakening of Sutter, a gay black man who grows up reading Jackie Collins and dressing like Michael Jackson. Stereotype-tackling sketches soured as they got grim -- emotionally scarred by white guys, Sutter rapes one with a black dildo -- but O'Hara milked huge laughs from a divorcing lesbian named Genitalia and a preacher in drag.
Playwrights Horizons, closed.


Tail! Spin!
Using only their own words against them, out playwright Mario Correa shoots barreled fish with rib-tickling reenactments of the sex scandals that disgraced politicians Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Anthony Weiner, and Mark Sanford. Arnie Burton particularly humanizes Foley, whose IM exchange with an underage page provides the show's most wince-worthy moments, but SNL's Rachel Dratch earns big laughs as the wives, mistresses, beards, and Barbara Walters.
Culture Project at the Lynn Redgrave Theatre, through January 4.


Lyndsey Turner's remarkable revival of Sophie Treadwell's expressionist drama, in which Rebecca Hall simply killed it as convicted murderer Ruth Snyder, was so vibrant and urgent that it's hard to believe the cautionary tale was first staged in 1928. Even more shocking is the fact that it features a predatory gay man (Arnie Burton) seducing an innocent young thing (Ryan Dinning) in a speakeasy scene, but the original production probably didn't show them kissing in an alley.
Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre, closed.


Stage Kiss
In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)'s Sarah Ruhl blurred the line between life and art, reality and make-believe, in her light but lyrical backstage comedy about ex-lovers -- Nurse Jackie's Dominic Fumusa and dazzling Friends alum Jessica Hecht -- cast as romantic leads in two laughably lousy plays. A big smooch for out Jack in a Box creator Michael Cyril Creighton, hysterical as an awkward gay understudy worried audiences won't buy him as straight.
Playwrights Horizons, closed.


Gidion's Knot
Following a gifted but troubled student's suicide, a mother and a fifth-grade teacher (played with grace and gravitas by Karen Leiner and Dara O'Brien) pass blame and Kleenex in Johnna Adams's intimate drama. Stage veteran Austin Pendleton directed the tense, scab-picking parent-teacher conference -- was young Gidion secretly in love with the bully writing "faggot" on his Facebook wall? -- like the precarious lid on a pot of boiling water.
Good Egg at 59E59 Theaters, closed.

Revisit our top 10 LGBT-inclusive theater picks for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

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