Magical Moments on Stage in 2014

The Oldest Boy 5A

Many of the most magical moments on stage are purely visual, such as the breathtaking sunsets in “The Oldest Boy” this year at Lincoln Center, or the astonishing effects that the cast of Nella Tempesta accomplished at LaMaMa with ordinary blankets. (See video at bottom.)


Nella Tempesta 5

Other moments can be strictly sound, such as the opening bars of one of Carole King’s hit songs — “I Feel The Earth Move” —  as sung by Jessie Mueller, in “Beautiful”:



Not all the magical moments are beautiful or transcendent, or even heartwarming. Some are funny. Some are chilling. Some are shocking – so shocking we can’t tell you about them, since (as the shows are still running) they’d be spoilers, such as the climactic encounter in “Disgraced,” or the last brutal image in “Cabaret.”

Some are….hard to categorize: Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig the “internationally ignored” transsexual song styling leaning down and licking the stage of the Belasco – “Tastes like Kathy Griffin” – then later lasciviously licking his bandmate’s guitar.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch 12

What made moments on stage “magical”  to me in 2014, as in past years, is that they felt as if they could only occur in live theater; they were happening right in front of us….while at the same time taking us somewhere else — into our own thoughts and emotions and imagination, and memories.

“Live every moment like you know how long a moment is,” Noah Robbins cracked on Twitter. As it happens, Robbins, a young actor who with Laura Benanti is the wittiest Tweeter among New York performers, took part in what was to me one of the most memorable moments on stage in 2014, as I attempt to picture below, mostly in chronological order. Click on any of the photographs to see them enlarged and read the extensive captions that explain the captivating stage moments.

Links to reviews and more photographs of the shows whose moments I list above:


Year of the Rooster

Outside Mullingar

Dinner with Friends

Love and Information

Red Velvet

The Mysteries

Lady Day

Act One

Bullets Over Broadway

Casa Valentina

You Can’t Take It With You

Indian Ink

On the Town

Sticks and Bones

Punk Rock

Puppets and Poets Festival

Elephant Man 

Every Brilliant Thing 

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

(In this complete video of the show, watch, for example, between 17:30 and 18:30, or, better, between 24 and 26, understanding that the video doesn’t come even close to re-creating the effect the live performance had on the in-person audience.)

This doesn’t count, and may not be true (I hope it is!) But it’s certainly magical:

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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