Amidst the frenzy to catch all of the new Broadway productions that are opening before Tony Award season, it is important to take a moment to pause and reflect upon the best productions of 2014 (which seems oh SO long ago now). On January 1, My Entertainment World announced the 2014 My Theatre Award nominees for New York, which included some wonderful performances and shows. The votes are in and, without further ado, the winners are:
This Pulitzer Prize-nominated musical, which opens on Broadway this spring, found critical acclaim at the downtown Public Theatre (a fantastic space for challenging new works headed for Broadway, like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton). While technically opening in 2013, the show extended and ran into 2014 (when I saw it) and garnered numerous awards in the 2014 season. Fun Home tells the story of a young lesbian discovering her sexuality while navigating her relationship with her father who has had homosexual encounters of his own.
Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Hedwig and the Angry Inch was an unstoppable musical force in 2014 – thrusting discussions of gender and identity to the forefront on Broadway in the loudest way possible. Hedwig is a cult classic that, with the assistance of the undeniably talented Neil Patrick Harris, found a mainstream audience. This rock musical has since gone through numerous Hedwigs, but its imprint on the Broadway community is undeniable.
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is a visually-stunning feat of a play that, at its core, deals with the difficult topic of autism and how autism can impact an entire family. It does so from the unique point of view of Christopher – a mathematically brilliant young man who struggles with human contact and often suffers from sensory overloads in public spaces, but who sees the world in an incredibly ordered and perceptive way. Curious Incident is open on Broadway and a not-to-be-missed experience (especially with Alex Sharp in the title role).
Best Actor in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig & the Angry Inch
Very few can pull off what Neil Patrick Harris did in a multitude of wigs, tights, and super-high heels on a nightly basis in Hedwig. Harris’s Hedwig was a lean, mean, dancing machine with vocals to rival any rock front man (or woman!), and audiences turned out in droves to see Harris’ work.
Best Actor in a Play
Alex Sharp in Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
This category was by far the most difficult to determine because opinions were split between several noteworthy performances last year. Both Cranston and Boyer were remarkable in their respective roles in All the Way and Hand to God (Boyer can be seen again in Hand to God this spring on Broadway), but neither is quite as successful as Alex Sharp in Curious Incident. Sharp’s role as Christopher not only demands a high level of physicality as he bounds across the stage, it requires an inspired level of believability as an autistic child who does not react to every day situations the same way that others do. Sharp wins over the audience as an atypical protagonist, delivering an impressive array of mathematical calculations and facts in a quick and credible way.
Best Actress in a Musical
Jessie Mueller in Beautiful
Mueller sold audiences on Beautiful with her spot-on portrayal of Carole King – the show would be little more than a jukebox musical without her presence on stage.
Best Actress in a Play
Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Casting aside the debate over whether Lady Day is a play or a musical, Audra McDonald’s performance as music-legend Billie Holiday was enthralling, and she did justice to a jazz icon.
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
James Monroe Iglehart in Aladdin
James Monroe Iglehart crooned, tapped, flipped, and magic’d his way into the hearts of Aladdin audiences. His interpretation of the role of Genie was wonderfully distinct from Robin Williams’ iconic portrayal, but he brought a chaotic energy to the role that rivaled Williams. Honorable mention goes out to Joshua Henry, whose performance in Violet solidified his position on Broadway has a powerhouse, contemporary performer (anyone who manages to cast Henry opposite Patina Miller in anything is my hero).
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Micah Stock in It’s Only a Play
In a play chock full of notable names, newcomer Micah Stock stands out. Humble and humorous, Stock proved that he has the acting chops to not only play with the pros, but to steal the show away from underneath them. Never again will I be able to hear “Defying Gravity” without chuckling.
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Lena Hall in Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Neil Patrick Harris may have starred as leading lady Hedwig, but Lena Hall proved that it is possible to give a subtle and sophisticated performance while surrounded by loud music and pulsing lights. Moreover, when Hall gets the opportunity to take center stage and show off her rock star vocal talents, she brings down the house.
Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Sarah Greene in The Cripple of Inishmaan
A young Irish actress and newcomer to the Broadway stage, Sarah Greene’s performance as the self-confident and fiery Helen McCormick in The Cripple of Inishmaan was perfection. Greene’s comedic timing was brilliant and her portrayal of McCormick was both grossly entertaining and remarkably nuanced.