Top 7 musicals in Twin Cities 2017

Monday, January 1, 2018

My 2017 #TCTheater Favorites

Well here we are again friends, the end of another excellent year of #TCTheater. 2017 marks the first year that I didn’t increase my theater intake from the previous year (perhaps I’ve reached the saturation point of how much theater one mortal can see in a year). I saw the same number of shows this year as last year – about 200 plus about 50 Fringe shows (you can read my favorites of those here), not counting my two Chicago theater trips (to see Hamilton twice) and my fabulous week in NYC (Hello Dolly! Dear Evan HansonCome From Away!). My 200 #TCTheater shows were distributed in approximately a 1:2 ratio of 70-ish musicals to 130-ish plays, so I thought I’d share my top 10% of each in each category, along with a few other noteworthy trends of the year. Know that I could easily have added another 20 shows that I loved to these lists, because there is so much brilliant theater being made in St. Paul and Minneapolis. But these are the shows I loved so much I wanted to see them again (and in a few cases I did). They’re listed in alphabetical order, with a quote from my original review that explains why it made the list (click on the title to read the original post).

Top 7 Favorite Musicals

  • Fiddler on the Roof, Ten Thousand Things: “The world of Anatevka [feels] palpably real and somehow modern, despite still being anchored in time and space. Because 50 years after it was written, this story about a family of refugees fleeing persecution and violence in their beloved homeland to find safety in America is as timely as ever.”
  • Fly By Night, Jungle Theater: “A new original folk-rock musical? …Charming and funny yet poignant, with a fantastic score played by greats from the local music scene, and a cast that couldn’t be better – what’s not to love?” (Loved it so much I saw it twice.)
  • Girl Shakes Loose, Penumbra Theatre: “Girl Shakes Loose is the musical we need right now… It shouldn’t be revolutionary in 2017 to see a musical created by black women about a contemporary black woman in America, but it is.”
  • In the Heights, Ordway Center: “Lin-Manuel Miranda reminds us that the common people who never get rich or famous or written about in history books still live noble lives with stories worth telling and worth listening to. And also, by the way, super fun and entertaining and moving and engrossing.” (It was a great year for Ordway Originals, I could have put all of them on this list, but this was the peak.)
  • Man of La Mancha, Theater Latte Da: “It’s about clinging to and fighting for ideals of chivalry, decency, and honor in the face of evil and corruption. In other words, it may be exactly the story that this world needs right now… An incredibly talented and beautifully diverse cast about half the usual size for this musical, a small but powerful four-piece orchestra, and a modern twist to the play-within-a-play structure make this Man of La Mancha an inspiring, moving, and engaging piece of theater musically.”
  • Sunday in the Park with George, Guthrie Theater: “Stunning production of what is perhaps the musical theater master’s greatest masterpiece… The Guthrie has assembled a sparkling cast and created a gorgeous design that brings this work of art about art itself to brilliant life.” (This was perhaps my most special theater experience this year. Not only did I attend the opening night soirée, which featured a pre-show performance by the great Bernadette Peters, but I also returned for the closing performance that was so moving, both the cast and audience were in tears.)
  • Sweet Land, the Musical, History Theatre: “Like the film but in a different way, Sweet Land, the Musical tells a beautiful story of love, community, and connection to the land, one that, as a descendant of German immigrant farmers, feels like my story.” (I’ve followed the development of this locally created new musical for several years, so of course when it finally came to fruition I had to see it twice.)