Top 10 Lists of Top 10 New York Theater in 2019: Hadestown, Slave Play

“Hadestown” and “Slave Play”  were the most popular musicals or plays among critics whose top 10 lists of New York theater for 2019 are featured below.  Following in popularity were “The Lehman Trilogy” and “Heroes of the Fourth Turning.” Again this year, straight plays were generally favored over musicals.

Critics agreed on even less this year than they did in the 2018 top 10 of top 10 lists. There was more of a consensus in previous years. “Hamilton” was on all the critics’ top ten lists in 2015, and most made it their number one choice. Similarly, “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”  and “The Band’s Visit” were clear favorites in 2016 and 2017 respectively. By contrast, “Hadestown” was the selection of only seven of the 12 critics lists this year, and only two ranked “Hadestown” as their number one pick. “Slave Play” was chosen by six, and none listed it first.

This requires a couple of caveats: Some of the most influential critics avoided ranking their selections, instead listing them alphabetically or chronologically by opening date, or in some other way. And some critics omitted Broadway shows from their 2019 list that they had put in their top 10 in previous years, when they were Off-Broadway.

A larger point: Many critics, especially newer ones, avoid top 10 lists as antithetical to the art of arts criticism. I can’t disagree…but lists are addictive.

The lists below link to the critics’ articles explaining and describing their choices, and linking to their original reviews.

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater
2.The Inheritance
3.Fires in the Mirror
4.White Noise
6.The Lehman Trilogy
8.Novenas for a Lost Hospital
9.The Black History Museum
10. The Museum of Dead Words

Jesse Green, New York Times (listed by opening date)

Boesman and Lena
Marys Seacole
Much Ado About Nothing
Before the Meeting
Make Believe
Slave Play
Heroes of the Fourth Turning
Is This a Room

Ben Brantley, New York Times (listed alphabetically)

American Utopia
Heroes of the Fourth Turning
Is This A Room
The Lehman Trilogy
Marys Seacole
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Slave Play

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York

1. A Strange Loop
2. Heroes of the Fourth Turning
3. Greater Clements
4. Octet
5. Little Shop of Horrors
6. The Appointment
7. Is This A Room
8. For Colored Girls…
9. Ain’t No Mo’
10. Soft Power

Helen Shaw, New York Magazine/Vulture

1. A Strange Loop
2. Is This A Room?
3. 50/50 old school animation
4. Fefu and Her Friends
5. Heroes of the Fourth Turning
6. History of Violence
7. The Appointment
8. Little Shop of Horrors
9. Ain’t No Mo’
10. Suicide Forest


David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

1. Oklahoma!
2. David Byrne’s ‘American Utopia’
3. Betrayal
4. Hadestown
5. Fleabag
6. The Lehman Trilogy
7. Fiddler on the Roof
8. Fairview
9.The Inheritance
10. Slave Play

Eben Shapiro, Time Magazine

1.The Lehman Trilogy
2.The Inheritance
3. Slave Play
4. Hadestown
5. What the Constitution Means to Me
6. Antigone
7. The Mother
8. True West
9. The Sound Inside
10. American Utopia

Jessica Derschowitz and Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly

2.Slave Play
4.What the Constitution Means to Me
5.Little Shop of Horrors
7.Fiddler on the Roof
10. Much Ado About Nothing

Naveen Kumar, Towleroad
1.. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow Is Enuf
2. Marys Seacole
3. Fefu and Her Friends
4. Fleabag
5. Hadestown
6. Heroes of the Fourth Turning
7. Ain’t No Mo
8. A Strange Loop
9. Jagged Little Pill
10. David Byrne’s American Utopia

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

3.The Sound Inside
4.All My Sons
5.What the Constitution Means to Me
7.Hillary and Clinton
8.Slave Play
10.Kiss Me Kate

Peter Marks, The Washington Post

This year, Marks picked only three New York productions in his top 10
2. Lehman Trilogy
5. Greater Clements
7.Freestyle Love Supreme

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal
As usual, his “best theater of 2019” article is not formatted as a Top 10 list, but here’s an extrapolation, choosing only the New York productions, and organizing the list alphabetically (and sticking to 10):

All My Sons
Caesar and Cleopatra
Linda Vista
Nantucket Sleigh Ride
Soft Power
Toni Stone
The Young Man from Atlanta

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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