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Seven things to remember

1. The new American musicals, including "Spring Awakening," "Movin' On," "Passing Strange," "Grey Gardens" and "In the Heights." Each, in its own bold way, defied the tastes for theme-park musicals and tracing-paper adaptations of movies. So there's hope.

2. Let's not trash every TV and movie star for just being a crass box-office draw. The good ones are crass box-office draws and dramatic dynamite. Six years before Hugh Jackman joined Daniel Craig in "A Steady Rain" this fall, Jackman was spectacular - singing and dancing - as Peter Allen in "The Boy From Oz." I will forever respect the quiet dignity of Julia Roberts in her unfairly maligned Broadway debut in "Three Days of Rain."

3. So much of my most cherished theater has come from the Lincoln Center Theatre. Top on the list must be "The Coast of Utopia," its astoundingly audacious and beautiful three-part, eight-hour productions of Tom Stoppard's adventure story about nothing less than progressive thought in 19th century Russia. The theater's revival of "South Pacific" (still running) is an object lesson how both to revitalize and honor classic material.

4. It is hard to remember that, not so long ago, Edward Albee was not considered fashionable in this city. The master of articulate grown-up theater, who turned an unthinkable 80 in 2007, has been a thriving presence here all decade. We have seen major revivals of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," "Tiny Alice" and "Seascape." His new plays have included "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" (Tony Award), "The Play About the Baby," "The Occupant" and "Peter and Jerry" (prequel to "The Zoo Story"). And another new one, "Me, Myself and I," opens in the spring.

5. Equally ridiculous is that Stephen Sondheim will turn 80 in March. The decade has had Broadway revivals of "Sweeney Todd," "Company," "Follies," "Assassins," "Sunday in the Park with George" and, this month, "A Little Night Music." Most amazing, however, was the Kennedy Center's summerlong Sondheim festival in 2002 - six fully staged musicals in a once-in-a-lifetime chance to imagine the Sondheim Repertory Company that a sensible theater would have created and nurtured years ago.

6. Joseph Papp's legacy. Every time I go to the Public Theater or Shakespeare in the Park, I am again grateful that Papp's theater-shaking institutions have been continued with such care, imagination and ambition by George C. Wolfe and, since 2006, by Oskar Eustis. They've been very different leaders, but each has brought a rigor that these precious institutions deserve.

7. And I've stopped complaining that the Lincoln Center Festival makes me stay alert in Manhattan in July. From its historic Pinter Festival in 2001 through last summer's unforgettable seven-hour memory play, "Les Ephemeres," by Ariane Mnouchkin, this has been an invaluable international journey.

1. Etiquette has such a quaint sound to it. In the theater, however, bad behavior is out of control. Phones are ringing, people are texting, tweeting, taking photos and videos. David Hyde Pierce said that, during the 2007 run of "Curtains," a family passed a bucket of chicken along the front row.

2. Mediocre revivals of good musicals have plagued the decade. Memories and potential new audiences are being squashed by lackluster stagings of "Guys and Dolls," "Pal Joey," "West Side Story" and, most recently, "Bye, Bye Birdie."

3. Will Broadway producers never tire of musical adaptations of hit movies? For every "Hairspray" and "Billy Elliot," there are millions spent trying to reproduce "Footloose," "Saturday Night Fever," "9 to 5" (add your own special favorite cloned loser here). For every "Lion King," there's a "Tarzan" and "Little Mermaid" and, for all its sweetness, the thoroughly unnecessary "Shrek."

4. The "American Idol"-ization of singing styles and reality-TV casting are creeping their way into Broadway. Fantasia was terrific in "The Color Purple," but that revival of "Grease" made the Rosie O'Donnell version seem like high art. If casting directors are feeling threatened, imagine how professional drama schools must feel.

5. Greed isn't good. When Mel Brooks invented the idea of scalping "The Producers" himself by charging $480 for something called premium seats, we thought it was a greedy aberration. Now all the producers do it. As Max Bialystock liked to say, I want that money!"

6. No more vampire musicals, OK?While the creators of "True Blood," "The Vampire Diaries" and "Twilight" (OK, let's not forget "Buffy") grasp the primal allure of the undead, Broadway is splattered with the remains of "Dance of the Vampires," "Dracula, the Musical" and "Lestat."

7. Why does Broadway need those hideous, traffic-clogging, thoroughly alienating pedestrian parkways? Mayor Bloomberg, tear down this mall.


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