PLAYBILL PICKS: The Top Theatre Stories of 2013

By Robert Simonson
24 Dec 2013

Shalita Grant and Kristine Nielsen in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
Photo by T. Charles Erickson

DURANG GETS HIS DUE: Playwright Christopher Durang's career stretches back to the 1970s. He has received his share of critical and popular success, but the triumph of his comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike in 2013 could nevertheless hardly be viewed as anything other than a well-deserved validation of the man's life's work. When the play opened at Lincoln Center's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in fall 2012, it got respectful reviews and enjoyed a healthy run. But when the play transferred to Broadway in March, however, something happened. Slowly and incrementally, it began to look like the play of the season. It won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle prize for Best Play, and, finally, the Tony Award for Best Play—the first such honor for Durang. As the icing on the cake, the Broadway production returned its investment.

BATTING 1000: It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes a theatre company hits a groove. The Public Theater did so this fall. Because the nonprofit produces so many productions every year, each Public season is almost by definition hit-and-miss. Not this time. Everything it threw on a stage— the Theatre for a New Audience co-production of Wallace Shawn's Grasses of a Thousand Colors; Elevator Repair Service's Arguendo; The Foundry Theatre's The Good Person of Szechwan; Mike Daisey's month-long series of monologues in Joe's Pub, All the Faces of the Moon; the new, world-premiere musical Fun Home; and the final edition of Richard Nelson's critically popular "Apple Family" plays—won the approval of the lion's share of critics. Sometimes, you just can't lose for winning.