10 Most Beloved Theater of 2013 That Baffled, Bored or Bugged Me

Belove Theater Baffled, Bored or Bugged Me

From least baffled, bored or bugged to most:
Kinky Boots 610. Kinky Boots

StageGrade: B+

This show has become more beloved since yahoos condemned it during Thanksgiving. I always found it entertaining, in a Busby Berkeley sort of way, but it’s too by-the-numbers safe and familiar for me.

Waiting for Godot Cort Theatre

9. Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land

StageGrade: A-

One hesitates to apply the word “beloved” to these two difficult modernist classics, but most critics certainly gushed at the current Broadway productions running in repertory. I suspect this was primarily because of how charming (and beloved) their two stars, Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. They were a pair of muppets compared to the actors in other productions I’ve seen of Waiting for Godot, which were far more haunting, and, one feels, more true to a play written shortly after World War II during a period of increasing fears of nuclear annihilation.

As for No Man’s Land, it just baffled me.

TheLastFiveYears8. The Last Five Years

StageGrade: B-

While this musical about the unraveling of a marriage told backwards has never been a critical favorite, it is deeply beloved by many people whose judgment I respect. I didn’t hate it; there were a couple of lovely songs, some startling stage moments. It just didn’t move me the way it did the sobbing theatergoers seated around me.

DisasterMusical7. Disaster

StageGrade: A-

Way too long for what it is, which is a self-consciously campy one-joke spoof, albeit partially redeemed by first-rate performers singing 70’s pop songs

I'll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers6. I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers

StageGrade: B+

I loved that Bette Midler wants to do theater again, but too many people made excuses for  this clunker of a vehicle that brought her back to Broadway.

MurderBallad5. Murder Ballad

StageGrade: B+

This deafening musical about a violent love triangle was so hip I nearly choked.

Pippin 4

4. Pippin

StageGrade: A-

Yes, turning this musical into a circus makes it more entertaining. But, not having seen Pippin previously, I was shocked by its insipid story, an un-refreshing mix of child-like lessons about finding yourself with childish insertions of foul language and bawdy insinuations.

Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, AWalter Kerr Theatre

3. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

StageGrade: A-

Targeting out-of-touch British aristocrats from the early twentieth century, is not just easy. It becomes tiresome — and at times disturbing.

Small Engine Repair MCC - Lortel Theatre

2. Small Engine Repair

StageGrade: B+

I am puzzled by the excitement for this 70-minute acting exercise on such dramatically wobbly legs that it comes crashing down during its ludicrous ending.

Lucky Guy 4 Broadhurst Theater

1. Lucky Guy

StageGrade: B+

Having worked at the newspapers depicted in Lucky Guy, I was personally offended by this love-fest for journalists who are depicted as sexist, reckless drunks. As with I’ll Eat You Last, this lame play got a free ride because of the excitement that greeted its star. Lucky Guy marked the Broadway debut of Tom Hanks, who is — yes — beloved.

Note: StageGrade is a site that aggregates critics’ reviews of New York theater, coming up with a consensus grade for each show. I list the StageGrade grades here to indicate how I deviated from the consensus.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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