1. The Scottsboro Boys – It is difficult to imagine a more daring, disturbing or dangerous Broadway musical than this true story about nine young black males falsely accused of raping two white women framed as a minstrel show. What a shame that it flopped so quickly, but a campaign is already underway to bring it back.
2. The Merchant of Venice – This production, which premiered last summer in Central Park and transferred to Broadway, is a master class in Shakespeare. As played by Al Pacino, Shylock comes off not as a villain or victim, but a wildly theatrical figure reacting to oppression and betrayal. He is joined by a pitch-perfect supporting cast, including the incandescent Lily Rabe.
3. A View from the Bridge – Starring Liev Schreiber and an absolutely radiant Scarlett Johansson, Gregory Mosher’s revival of Arthur Miller’s Greek tragedy set in 1950s Brooklyn was straightforward, focused and uniformly well-acted. It drove forward with such intensity that you wished it wouldn’t even pause for an intermission.
4. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – This relentlessly silly, chaotic musical about the first unofficial Tea Party candidate in American history gained a strong following during its Off-Broadway run but will shutter quickly on Broadway. But even if it confuses and frustrates just as many people as it turns on, it remains a unique triumph.
5. Angels in America – Staging Tony Kushner’s mammoth drama about New Yorkers affected by the AIDS crisis during the mid-1980s in the tiny confines of the Signature Theatre must not have been easy, but director Michael Grief and his excellent cast pulled it off splendidly. It remains the most daring and influential play of the past two decades.