USA Today's Year in review: The best of Broadway in 2014...
December 18, 2014 

While 2014 saw the loss of two of Broadway's most duly cherished veterans in director Mike Nichols and performer Elaine Stritch, there were plenty of high points as well, with some stars emerging and others rising further. We take a quick look back at the year in Broadway.

Best play: The Realistic Joneses

Never mind that playwright Will Eno didn't nab a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut; his witty, moving study of human fragility, with its typically idiosyncratic dialogue, was the year's most genuinely provocative and consistently absorbing entry.

Best musical: The Last Ship

With his first score for musical theater, Sting reaffirmed his melodic and storytelling gifts. He also chose collaborators wisely, with veteran director Joe Mantello and librettists John Logan and Brian Yorkey helping to craft a show that moves and, in the end, surprises us.

Best revivals of a play: A Raisin in the Sun, The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Elephant Man

In a year not lacking for accomplished productions of classics, these three stood out, not for their marquee names (Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe and Bradley Cooper, respectively - all superb), but for bringing very different studies of injustice and courage to searing, soaring new life.

Best revival of a musical: On the Town

Director John Rando, choreographer Joshua Bergasse and music director James Moore - aided by a flawless cast and a full orchestra - found a bittersweet gem in a musical that, despite its sparkling pedigree, some had considered an old chestnut.

Best revival of a performance in a musical: Alan Cumming in Cabaret

As a hilarious, androgynous, chilling Emcee in Roundabout Theatre Company's previous revival of the Kander and Ebb fave, Cumming made a role that belonged to another beloved theater vet (Joel Grey) completely his own. More than 15 years later, Cumming reclaimed the part with a vengeance.

Best triple play: Tony Shalhoub in Act One

A great stage actor (for those who know him primarily from TV), Shalhoub brought humor and humanity to no fewer than three roles, including the playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, in James Lapine's adaptation of Hart's beloved autobiography.

Person of the year: Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

With his blazing performance as the titular transgender singer, Harris gave Broadway another big plug - and it returned the favor, awarding him a Tony and propelling the future Oscars host's star to a new peak.

Breakout stars: Lena Hall in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Alessandro Nivola in The Elephant Man

Both shared the stage with much bigger names, but Hall's amazing, shape-shifting voice and wry charisma and Nivola's commanding, nuanced acting shone just as brightly.

Jukebox heroines: Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, Jessie Mueller in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Beautiful was hokey nostalgia, but Mueller stretched her sterling soprano to capture King's voice and spirit. McDonald, in a more serious-minded tribute to Billie Holiday, carried off another vocal metamorphosis - and won her sixth Tony in the process. (Mueller earned her first.)

Mr. Genie-ality: James Monroe Iglehart in Aladdin

As the dude who makes the hero's wishes come true in Disney's exuberant adaptation of its animated film musical, Iglehart brought joy - and seemingly superhuman energy - to audiences of all ages.

Beautiful "girls": Cast of Casa Valentina

In a year in which LGBT rights were consistently in the headlines, Harvey Fierstein's play explored the complicated history of cross-dressers, and a group of top-notch actors helped make his characters funny, poignant and real. And looked fabulous in the process.

(c) USA Today by Elysa Gardner

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