Magical Moments on Stage in 2013

MagicalMomentsMidsummerNightsDreamSometimes the most magical moments in a work of theater are the ones that are unplanned — the audience suddenly singing along with Cicely Tyson as her character hums a spiritual in The Trip to Bountiful. Sometimes, the moment is a calculated shock: The naked man and woman who’ve been sitting in the bathtub together in The Spider, a play from Bulgaria that was at the Fringe Festival this year, stood up and revealed they were conjoined twins.

Often, a show’s beginning moments, or a character’s entrance, are the most memorable: Nathan Lane’s sad, cynical expression in the opening scene of The Nance; Ian McKellen’s climb from behind the rock at the start of Waiting for Godot; Fantasia’s luscious rendition of “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” in After Midnight.

It can be  a purely visual moment — William Ivey Long’s costumes enabling Cinderella somehow to turn right before our eyes from a mistreated stepdaughter in rags into a beautiful (future) princess in white finery. It can just be sound — the first,  familiar, thrilling guitar riffs in A Night With Janis Joplin

Even when the show as a whole is disappointing, there can be startling memories to take home.

Below are 10 of the moments on stage that struck me as magical in 2013, in no particular order. (Obviously, since they are different from the ones I just mentioned, there were way more than 10 magical moments in 2013.) Click on any of the photographs; each has an extensive caption that explains the captivating stage moment that the picture represents (sometimes not all that accurately.)

Doesn’t count, but magical:


Most moving lyrics in that song (by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda):

There’s a kid in the middle of nowhere sitting there, living for Tony performances singin’ and flippin’ along with the Pippins and Wickeds andKinkys, Matildas and Mormonses.
So we might reassure that kid and do something to spur that kid.
Cause I promise you all of us up here tonight.
We were that kid…. 

These were my magical moments. What were yours?

LInks to my reviews of the shows in which I pictured magical moments:

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Fun Home

Motown The Musical

Hands on a Hardbody

Twelfth Night

The Assembled Parties

What’s It All About?


The Glass Menagerie

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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