2017 marks my first full year as a theatre reviewer. (I started in 2016, but it was for less than half the year.) As this is the time of year when reviewers look back and pick their favorites from the past twelve months, how can I not succumb to the temptation of making my own “best of 2017” list?
The following is a list of my favorite productions of the past year in alphabetical order with the theatres at which they appeared. These are followed by some shows that, while not making my top shows list, are deserving of special notice. To find out why these productions made my “Top Shows” and “Special Mention” lists, you can re-read my reviews at OutInJersey.net/Category/Reviews/Theater.
Top Shows of 2017
- A Comedy of Tenors by Ken Ludwig, at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station
- A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, at Two River Theatre, Red Bank
- American Son by Christopher Demos-Brown, at the George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick
- Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs, at the Bickford Theatre, Morris Museum, Morristown
- Foster Mom by Chris Cragin-Day, at Premiere Stages, Kean University, Union
- Halftime With Don by Ken Weitzman, at the New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch
- Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, at the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton
- Million Dollar Quartet by Colin Escott & Floyd Mutrux, at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn
- Mutual Philanthropy by Karen Rizzo, at the New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch
- Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw, presented by Bedlam at the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton
- Sarah Sings a Love Story by Stephanie Berry, at the Crossroads Theatre, New Brunswick
- Skeleton Crew by Dominique Morisseau, at Premiere Stages, Kean University, Union
- The Honeymooners, book by Dusty Kay & Bill Nuss, music by Stephen Weiner, lyrics by Peter Mils, at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn
A Christmas Carol, McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton: To set designer Daniel Ostling, Lighting Designer Lap Chi Chu, and Special Effects Designer Jeremy Chernick, for outstanding theatrical effects that reminded the audience that this beloved Christmas tale is also a ghost story.
Mary Poppins, Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn: To choreographer Denis Jones, for outstanding choreography, especially the whirling carnival created for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.
Murder on the Orient Express, McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton: To set designer Beowulf Boritt, for outstanding scenic design in the creation of a classic passenger train of the 1920’s on the McCarter stage.
Noura, by Heather Raffo, a LAB Spotlight Presentation at the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton: A two-performance workshop production utilizing elements of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House to create a story of Iranian emigrants in contemporary New York City. Probably the best new drama of this year.