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Here are the 10 best (and 5 worst) theater shows this year

Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee in "Once." (Joan

Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee in "Once." (Joan Marcus) Credit: Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee in "Once." (Joan Marcus)

By my count, I reviewed 93 shows in 2012, beginning with Jackie Hoffman's "A Hanukkah Carol" and ending with a revival of the musical "Working." Here's my list of the best and the worst that came in between.

1. 'Once'
Based on the 2006 Irish film, this heartbreaking, musically and visually stunning musical about a celibate romance between a single mother and dazed songwriter made a clean transition to Broadway, where it rightfully won the Tony Award over "Newsies."

2. 'Merrily We Roll Along'
Although it crashed and burned on Broadway 30 years ago, Stephen Sondheim's very special musical about how a three-way friendship falls apart received an absolutely exhilarating revival by the Encores! series at City Center.

3. 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'
Rupert Holmes' choose-your-own-adventure musical came back to life in the Roundabout Theatre Company's rousing and lavish revival.

4. 'Clybourne Park'
Bruce Norris' shameless and brilliant satire of race and gentrification, which won acclaim during its Off-Broadway premiere two years earlier, finally came to Broadway with its original cast intact.

5. 'Closer than Ever'
Maltby and Shire's 1989 revue of exquisitely crafted songs proved to be just as refreshing as ever in the York Theatre Company's revival.

6. 'Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking'
After a painfully prolonged three-year hiatus, Gerard Alessandrini's beloved revue parodying new Broadway musicals - including "Once" - returned with its vigorous spirit intact.

7. 'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike'
Following three revivals of "Uncle Vanya" Lincoln Center Theater premiered Christopher Durang's zany comedy which transports Chekhov's themes and plot devices to today.

8. 'The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess'
This brave attempt to turn the 1935 folk opera into a Broadway musical accessible to modern audiences made for thrilling musical theater.

9. 'Harvey'
Jim Parsons gave an effortless, charming performance in a fantastic revival of this classic comedy about an adult man whose best friend is a giant white rabbit.

10. 'Bring It On'
In addition to unbelievable gymnastic displays, this new musical inspired by the film about high school cheerleaders contained appealing characters, catchy songs and funny dialogue.


1. 'Bullet for Adolf'
Co-written and directed by Woody Harrelson, this play was awful in every imaginable way. In a shameless attempt to promote it, Harrelson paraded topless women around Times Square.

2. 'Don't Dress for Dinner'
Unlike the recent Broadway revival of the farce "Boeing-Boeing," which contained a distinguished cast, this production of the rarely seen "Boeing-Boeing" sequel was too painful to endure.

3. 'Scandalous'
Kathie Lee Gifford found a way to bring her worthless bio musical of evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson to Broadway. Now that it opened, got panned and quickly closed, perhaps she can move on with her life.

4. 'The Anarchist'
It's hard to believe that David Mamet could have penned this didactic, heavy-handed two-hander featuring Patti LuPone and Debra Winger giving stiff, monotonic performances.

5. 'Bare'
This flawed but moving pop opera, which had a short off-off-Broadway run in 2004, came back revised, with too much of the original score removed and the plot sanitized, turning it into a poor attempt to imitate "Spring Awakening" and "Glee"

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