Our Top 10 New York Theater of 2016

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10. Southern Comfort
Based on a 2001 documentary, Dan Collins and Julianne Wick Davis's devastatingly delicate folk-bluegrass musical celebrates a chosen family of trans friends in rural Georgia who debate whether gender lies between the ears or the legs. Annette O’Toole was a revelation as Robert Eads, a frail trans man denied care for ovarian cancer, and Jeff McCarthy found heartening humor in the showier role of his transitioning girlfriend, Lola Cola.

The Public Theater, closed.

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9. Homos, or Everyone in America
Labyrinth Theater Company premiered gay playwright Jordan Seavey’s bold and ballsy love story, elevated by the chemistry between out actors Michael Urie and Robin De Jesús as a contentious New York couple who confront commitment issues and a hate crime. Staged with unsettling intimacy by Mike Donahue, it was a thrilling, time-hopping exploration of key moments in a uniquely homosexual relationship, anal warts and all.

Bank Street Theater, closed.

TOP TEN THEATER

8. Falsettos
Lincoln Center Theater’s fine revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s 1992 musical isn’t much to look at, Andrew Rannells aside, but it sure is something to sing about. Once innovative and now imperative, the masterwork stars charmer Christian Borle as a neurotic man-child who, at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic, creates a nontraditional family with his ex-wife, new boyfriend, adolescent son, psychiatrist, and lesbian neighbors.

Walter Kerr Theatre, through January 8.

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7. O, Earth
Using commingling characters like Sylvia Rivera and Ellen DeGeneres, Casey Llewellyn put an inspired and inspiring queer twist on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, playfully examining our community’s history and other universal mysteries. With fearless director Dustin Wills and a largely LGBT cast that included Moe Angelos and Jess Barbagallo, Foundry Theatre’s ambitious world premiere was almost too wonderful for anybody to realize it.

HERE Arts Center, closed.

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6. Skeleton Crew
Precision-engineered by director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the final play in Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit-set trilogy looks under the hood of an auto plant facing foreclosure during the 2008 recession. A gun and a hopeful flirtation greased the wheels, but the great Lynda Gravatt pumped the fuel as Faye, a wise and world-worn lesbian union rep, barely surviving in the face of shifting workplace loyalties and power struggles.

Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2, closed.

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5. The Wolves
The Playwrights Realm scores big with its staging of Sarah DeLappe’s sobering yet empowering play about a suburban all-girls high school soccer team who gab about, like, nothing and everything as they pre-game stretch on AstroTurf. Lila Neugebauer directs the fierce and flawless company of 10 female actors, including Fun Home alum Lauren Patten as a team captain finding off-field comfort in a same-sex relationship.

The Duke on 42nd Street, through December 24.

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4. The Harvest
Sometimes there’s God so quickly! Awkward but well-intentioned young missionaries prepare to travel to the Middle East in gay playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s exceptionally divine drama, helmed by Davis McCallum and set in the basement of a small evangelical church in Idaho. Out actor Gideon Glick and Peter Mark Kendall miraculously radiated unspoken love and longing as best friends essentially cockblocked by their faith.

LCT3’s Claire Tow Theater, closed.

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3. Indecent
Lesbian playwright Paula Vogel and director Rebecca Taichman’s Broadway-bound backstage drama tackles the true story of Yiddish play God of Vengeance, which, decried as obscene in 1923, featured Broadway’s first lesbian kiss. But it’s the infectious passion of the artists who ultimately risked their lives to perform the controversial play that made this visually arresting new work so haunting and unforgettably exhilarating.

Vineyard Theatre, closed.

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2. Dear Evan Hansen
Although his sexuality is left undefined, a troubled teenage boy’s suicide is the catalyst of this tearjerking musical triumph from gay director Michael Greif and gay-straight songwriting super-duo Pasek and Paul. Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt gives a genuine, game-changing performance as relatable outsider Evan Hansen, who finds sudden purpose and social media stardom after telling a snowballed lie about his dead classmate.

Music Box Theatre, open-ended.

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1. A Life
It was challenging and confounding, much like life, but nothing else this year has stuck to my bones like gay playwright Adam Bock’s staggeringly profound new play about — surprise! — death. An endearing David Hyde Pierce shattered unsteeled hearts as a terminally single, astrology-obsessed gay man whose abrupt fate quite literally flipped the whole show, directed with keen detail by Anne Kauffman, on its side.

Playwrights Horizons, closed.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Bright Star at Cort Theatre.
Happily After Ever at 59E59 Theaters.
The Healing at Clurman Theatre.
I'm Bleeding All Over the Place: A Living History Tour at La MaMa.
Kingdom Come at Roundabout Underground.
A Ride on the Irish Cream at Abrons Arts Center.
Sagittarius Ponderosa at 3LD.
Spermhood at Dixon Place.
Street Children at New Ohio Theatre.
Wilderness at Abrons Arts Center.

Revisit our LGBT-inclusive theater picks for 2015.

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