Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best Broadway Show of 2013

Well, 2013 has come and gone, so being a yearly tradition now, I'm going to give my take on 2013 as a whole! Specifically, let's talk about 2013 for Broadway. How can it be summed up? In my general opinion, 2013 was not a good year for Broadway. I usually see around 5-7 Broadway shows a year, and if I'm really lucky closer to 8-9, so this year  saw a whopping 7 shows; 2 off Broadway and 5 on Broadway. And then it hit me; I was enjoying the off Broadway shows a hell of a lot more than I was for actual Broadway shows. There was a lot more experimentation and even standout shows than what was done on Broadway, which instead released shows that played it safe in the most generic, banal way possible. So I decided that instead of doing a Top 5 Broadway Shows of 2013, I would instead talk about the best show of the year...


Kinky Boots!


... Nah I'm just screwing with you. The day I put that mediocre show on any top list is the day I sprout wings and fly to Jupiter to meet Spike Spiegel (look up the reference). My actual show of the year is Matilda.


In a year that was fraught with mediocrity, I wasn't really surprised that this show wound up being my favorite musical of the year, mostly because this show remembers what makes a good musical; good characters, good story, a catchy soundtrack, and an amazing set. I've seen way too many shows this year that lacked one of these elements. Pippin had good songs and a nice set, but the characters and story were not interesting in the slightest. Big Fish also had a great set and an interesting story, but the songs didn't do anything for me and the characters were characters that I've seen plenty of times before. And don't even get me going about Cinderella, a musical that is more lifeless and bland the the whitest piece of white bread in Amish country. 

All that being said, Matilda is that rare musical that just combined everything just right. It was dark, but had whimsical moments. It had great and complex sets, but knew when to keep things simple. The characters were over the top, but never to the point where I felt like they were annoying. Everything in this show was just so perfectly balanced that I enjoyed this show more than any other show this year. 

I will concede that this show does suffer from a rushed ending, where like in the book, Matilda did get magical powers, but in here she only got them in the last 10 or so minutes and they were never really expounded upon. The magical powers served only to wrap up the story, which I actually didn't mind that much because a stronger focus was placed on the music than following the plot of the book faithfully. It took what it needed to in order to make the story compelling, and added onto that. There was also a subplot about a escapologist and how that tied in the the main story that kinda stopped the flow of the story, but even then it wasn't bad because we got some pretty nice visuals and songs out of it. 

Vibrant, colorful, and an all around good time. 
They really don't make musicals like they used too. Last year it was really touch and go between what shows I would actually put in my Top 5, with my previous year winners being Silence! The Musical in 2012 and The Book of Mormon the year before. Here, it didn't feel right to say that average shows were "the best of the year". There's probably some deeper meaning about the fact that mediocrity tops the best of the year, but that's the world we live in. Adaptations are the thing now for Broadway, with less and less original works being presented, and even if something is original, there's no guarantee that it'll be good, like with Hands on a Hardbody. Yeah, but no one was expecting that to be thrown in here. 

But at the end of the day, even in a year that had a bunch of letdowns and not too good shows, we still were able to get something really special out of it; a great musical that parents will love just as much as children. It's a travesty that this show lost to Kinky Boots for best musical at the Tony's, because this is leaps and bounds better. And with that, I can unequivocally say that Matilda is the best Broadway show of 2013.  

Shows I did not see this year that might have actually been good were Motown and First Date. I fully believe that these shows would have made having a Top 5 this year justifiable, but sadly I didn't see either. 

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