As I begin the first year of my fourth decade obsessing over such an unprofitable madness as supporting, defending, and creating art in a town where such noble efforts are hardly appreciated at all, I humbly offer, for the 26th time, my choices for the best work done this year in our poor maligned desert climes by our stalwart little theatrical community despite everything we do and why we do it being thwarted and dismantled by a union with which I was affiliated for six-and-a-half decades. For many years, at the end of every bio, I would proclaim to be a “proud member of Actors Equity Association.” Now, I’m about as proud of AEA as Meryl Streep must be watching the clip of her awards speech referring to Harvey Weinstein as a god.
So, it seems to have been the Year of the Director in El Lay, if my awards reflect the season and the small percentage of shows any reviewer here can possibly devour. So many amazing creations, such an abundance of talent energizing our stages in 2017 despite AEA’s greed-based efforts to stifle our voices.
You’ll notice the elephant in the room right away, I’ll bet–or should I say Founding Father Not in the House. In the Troubie’s hilariously topical How the Princh Stole Christmas, creator Matt Walker’s tiny-handed humbuggy purple title character first notes that the rhyming in their reinvented Prince lyrics sounds like the score from Hamilton, but than he tosses that comparison aside with, “Why are we referencing Hamilton when nobody’s seen it?”
From everything I’ve heard or listened to, I’m purdy durn sure Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical phenomenon would indeed be high on my list of winners this year but, yes, despite the long-running engagement here at the Pantages this year, I haven’t seen it either. The producers decided besides the Times and the Daily News, they didn’t need the B-list press to sell their massive hit show, I guess, cuzzin’ I tweren’t invited and I’m way too cheap–or spoiled after 31 comped years as a reviewer–to pay $500 to $1,500 a ticket to see anything except the live execution of Donald Trump on CNN.
So I guess I’ll wait until it returns here next time when us secondary critics will be invited. Shit, at age 71, it gives me something to live for, ya know?
My 26th annual TicketHolder Awards are now posted on my TicketHoldersLA website in two parts. You can read it below and click on my site for more photos.
BEST PRODUCTION of 2017
1. STUPID KID, Road Theatre Company
2. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
3. LES BLANCS, Rogue Machine at the Met
4. THE HOUSE IN SCARSDALE, Boston Court Performing Arts Center
5. THE PRIDE, Wallis Annenburg Center for the Performing Arts
6. ROTTERDAM, Skylight Theatre Company
7. KING CHARLES III, Pasadena Playhouse
8. KISS, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
9. WALKING TO BUCHENWALD, Open Fist Theatre Company
10. NICKY, Coeurage Theatre Company
RUNNERS-UP: Archduke, CTG/Mark Taper Forum; At Home at the Zoo, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts; Billy Boy, Playwrights’ Arena at Atwater Village Theatre; Blackbird, Grove Theater Center; Blackbird, LA LGBT Center; The Cake, Echo Theatre Company; Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Coeurage Theatre Company; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecological Oncology Unit at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, Geffen Playhouse; Resolving Hedda, Victory Theatre Center
BEST REVIVAL PRODUCTION OF 2017
1. CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Antaeus Theatre Company
2. NEXT TO NORMAL, East West Players
3. DIE, MOMMIE, DIE!, Celebration Theatre
4. ZOOT SUIT, Center Theatre Group, Mark Taper Forum
5. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
BEST MUSICAL PRODUCTION OF 2017
1. FUN HOME, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
2. SOMETHING ROTTEN!, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
3. HARLEQUINO: ON TO FREEDOM!, Actors Gang
4. MATTHEW BOURNE’S EARLY ADVENTURES, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
5. THE RED SHOES, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
6. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, Pantages Theatre
7. BRIGHT STAR, Center Theatre Group, Ahmanson Theatre
8. FINDING NEVERLAND, Pantages Theatre
9. HOW THE PRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS, Troubadour Theatre Company
10. OUR GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
SPECIAL EVENTS AND PERFORMANCES
LUZIA, Cirque du Soleil at Dodger Stadium
MIRACLE ON 34th STREET: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, Pasadena Playhouse