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MY BEST OF 2008

John started going to the theater when he was in high school. His first Broadway show was Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” on December 18th, 1970. He’s been passionate about live theater ever since, especially London theater, where he’s logged in 22 shows in 13 days, a record he’ll be happy to break, as soon as the dollar improves and the exchange rate levels out. In the meantime, enjoy John’s latest rants and raves.

As I’m going through my 2008 desk calendar, I realize I’ve seen some nicely special things this last year, and I thought I’d mention my faves month by month…so here goes…

JANUARY…brought the Red Bull Theater’s production of Marlowe’s “Edward II” directed by Jesse Berger. It was a standout production, with a stunning performance from one of our favorite actors, Matthew Rauch. The Red Bull currently has a production of “Women Beware Women” running off-Broadway, so look for that right now.

FEBRUARY…brought the Broadway transfer of last season’s Best Musical, no, not “In The Heights”, but instead, the Public Theater’s “Passing Strange”, written and performed by Stew. It has passed into the night, but one of its stars, Daniel Breaker, is currently in “Shrek”, and Spike Lee filmed the rock musical for an upcoming theatrical release.

MARCH… Lincoln Center’s rich and rewarding production of “South Pacific”, still running at the Beaumont and still packing them in.

APRIL…Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of the wonderful little play, “The Four Of Us” downstairs on Stage II at City Center on West 55th Street. A story of fame and its perils by the author of the just shuttered “Back, Back, Back”, the young and talented Itamar Moses.

MAY…the exhilarating revival of “Boeing, Boeing” featuring the Broadway debut of Tony Award-winning Mark Rylance, who needs to come back to NYC at least once every few seasons.

JUNE…The Elevator Repair Company’s fantamagorical staged reading-cum-production of William Faulkner’s “The Sound And The Fury” down in the East Village on 4th street of all places. It was three mesmerising hours of brilliant theater!

JULY…”Scramble”, an odd, funny little play by David Wiltse up at the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut. A farce set in the offices of a golf magazine, it featured the comic talent of none other than Matthew Rauch, seemingly the busiest actor in NYC (and Connecticut!).

AUGUST…The Public Theatre production of the tribal love rock musical “Hair”, coming soon to Broadway with changes insofar as cast members, but hopefully none in the sheer joy of the event. Will it play as well indoors in February? We’ll see…

SEPTEMBER…The York Theater Company’s “Enter Laughing”, possible the funniest show in town, packs them in through October, and comes back this month to pack em in again…and with George S. Irving to boot!

OCTOBER…The amazing little Rattlestick Theatre Company does it again, this time with Craig Wright’s “Lady”, the tale of 3 friends and a dog on a hunting trip. One of my favorite productions of the year, featuring the frighteningly talented Michael Shannon, and another of my favorite actors, Paul Sparks, the latter upcoming in “Hedda Gabler” on Broadway with Mary Louise Parker. Sparks is one of the best character actors working on any stage in America right now. Hey, let’s get him and Rauch together, yes?

NOVEMBER…Two amazing musicals, one gone, the other rolling on…gone is Stephen Sondheim’s “Road Show”, but still with us for some time to come is “Shrek” on Broadway, the SECOND funniest show in town.

DECEMBER….A one night only 15th anniversary concert staging of “The Who’s Tommy”, with its original cast almost entirely intact. Michael Cerveris brought down the house in the title role back then, and pulled off the magnificent feat of doing it again 15 years later…the entire cast sent chills down the spine, and it was particularly poignant to see ex-“Pal Joey” star Christian Hoff up there dancing up a storm, despite the “foot injury” which forced him to withdraw from “Joey” several weeks before..hmmmmmm…a fitting close to the year, no?