Sunday, June 22, 2008


So this past week's Entertainment Weekly (my entertainment Bible) did one of those things that publications do to generate backtalk. Their "New Classics" issue lists their picks for the best movies / TV shows / music, etc. of the last 25 years. People are guaranteed to disagree, some folks will get huffy, and the buzz generated about it will make the magazine seem relevant and possibly boost its circulation.

It's a pretty transparent strategy but, of course, it worked on me. First of all, while movies, TV, music and books all got a "Top 100," theater only got a top 50. Phooey on that. And the list (online you only see the list -- in the magazine there are little blurbs for the top 25) had plenty of room for argument. First of all, their view of the best seems to have a relatively short memory: six of the top 11 were produced in the past seven years. By that accounting, we must be in a new golden age of theater. And then some of the specifics are a little baffling. I love "Avenue Q" but putting that above "Into the Woods" and "Les Mis" -- huh? "The Producers" above "The Lion King" and "Wicked"? What?

I realized there were a bunch of shows that I thought were more relevant than the ones listed but that wouldn't make the list because they never made it to Broadway. "How I Learned To Drive" for instance, or "Anton in Show Business." Omissions like that -- and the fact that they wouldn't even qualify -- made me realize the essential irrelevance of this kind of list. West of the Hudson, the theater that matters is deeper, broader, and more interesting than any Broadway-only list.

But before I totally write it off, there were a few nice surprises on the list. I was happy "subUrbia" and "Burn This" showed up. And even at #49, "Topdog / Underdog" being there was a least a teensy recognition of some of the new frontiers in theater. What do you think of this list?

Also, I came across this "Top Moments from the Tony Awards" article on the EW site, too. It's a pretty good recap with some interesting supplementary info. FYI!


Rick St. Peter said...

I saw the list and my basic thought was that any top 50 list that doesn't include The Laramie Project isn't worth the of the most produced plays of the late 90's/early 00's, described as "Our Town for our times", while it had an off-Broadway run, it's bigger splash was regional and like you said, Dave, the list makers didn't seem to think theatre ever occured outside of NYC.


Angelika HausFrauSki said...

Yeah, I do love EW for being my favorite piece of toilet-side literature, but I often find myself throwing it down angrily because I disagree with many of its opinions and dislike the smug, hipster writers they seem to have on staff.

I find them barely credible when it comes to TV & film, shaky at best when it comes to music, and pretty much ignore their books & theatre sections all together.

We call it "The Rag."


But I mean, I still have a subscription to's like that annoying friend who follows you everywhere, and they kind of drive you insane, but you keep them around 'cause it's easier than saying no. And sometimes they say interesting and/or funny things.