2013 was the year of Shakespeare, and cross-dressing, and people getting naked in tubs on stage. It was a year full of solo performances and celebrity Broadway debuts and shows that sound on paper so inert as to be self-parodies:
Below are some of the top New York theater stories of 2013 – many of which turn out to be the weirdest theater stories of 2013. They are offered chronologically, and paired with my favorite articles I wrote this year.
January: Disabling Discrimination
Settlement in Attorney General suit against Theatre Row for discriminating against disabled in ticket purchasing
February: LaBeouf Orphaned
Shia LaBeouf, who was to make his Broadway debut, departs “Orphans,” the production announces, ”due to creative differences.”On Twitter, Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) publishes e-mails that imply that his “creative differences” were with Alec Baldwin
In fact he was fired.
Ben Foster replaces LaBeouf.
(When Orphans opens in April, critics are largely unimpressed with the results.)
March: Flick You
Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director Tim Sanford writes a letter to subscribers after many walkouts and complaints about the three-hour plus length of Annie Baker’s “The Flick”
*He said he didn’t know the play was going to be so long, and didn’t expect it to be so polarizing.
*He applauded those who disliked the play, saying he preferred a work to evince passionate dislike than a dispassionate shrug.
*He said the theater would not cut a single second out of the play.
My story: Alan Cumming says he’ll say “Macbeth” in the theater, despite the curse of “The Scottish Play.”
April: Disgraced…Not a Disgrace
Disgraced wins the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama in April. It was Ayad Akhtar’s first play
May: Smash, Bash
Actors Equity turns 100
National Review contributor and theater critic Kevin D. Williamson is kicked out of “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.”Williamson snatched a cell phone from another theatergoer and threw it on the floor.
June: TONY, Weirdness
June was a month for weird theater news:
In a comment at the bottom of an online review, playwright Neil LaBute called drama critic David Cote a portly eunuch for not liking his play “Reasons To Be Happy.”
The NYC Department of Transportation told Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, now in its 17th season, that from now on it would have to pay a parking fee to use the municipal parking lot for its performances, and also get auto insurance.
In Times Square one night, the guy with the “I Need Money for Weed” sign stabbed his rival with the “I Need Money for Beer” sign in the head with a pen.
In a lawsuit being tried in federal court, a woman was demanding millions of dollars because she suffered loss of income and a diminished sex life after 25 pounds of light blue M&Ms fell on her in the Times Square Toys R Us.
July: Sucks To Be Me + 10
August: Julie Harris, 1925-2013
Julie Harris, sometimes called the first lady of the theater, dies at the age of 87
September: State of New York Theater
New York theater is struggling, or vibrant, or both. (depending on which study you believe)
October: Opera Over; TV Takes Over; Sirs Pose
New York City Opera, the people’s opera created 70 years ago by Fiorello LaGuardia, announces it will shut down. It goes out with a bang, presenting an opera about Anna Nicole Smith.
Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen conduct among the savviest marketing campaigns ever for two difficult modernist plays, posing for a series of photographs in front of New York City landmarks.
For its tenth anniversary, Wicked is an entire category on Jeopardy! — the first Broadway show to be so featured…but not the last: Cinderella was next.
My stories: 8 Ways Television is Influencing Theater
November: Too Dreamy? Too Kinky?
Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center opens in the happening downtown Brooklyn Cultural District with Julie Taymor’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
People on social media objected to the broadcast of a number by the 2013 Tony Award winning best musical Kinky Boots at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, because it included a few male performers dressed as females, saying it was inappropriate for children.
My stories: The National New Play Exchange — putting every play in a national database
Tony Winner Chuck Cooper on What It Takes
December: Sound of Television
The Sound of Music, a live broadcast of the stage musical starring Carrie Underwood, attracts 18.5 million viewers, more than any non-sports event at NBC in a decade. The theater critic at the Associated Press puts it on the his list of the top ten theater in 2013.
Of course, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list, though some of the ongoing stories are too exhausting to mention: The Rebecca saga continues; more and more theater critics are taking it on the chin; and there was news nearly every month about Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, including that it will be closing at the beginning of 2014.
More important to most of us who care about the theater is not the news – what happens behind the scenes, or before or after the show – but the magic that happens on the stage. (Here are my 2013 reviews )