Top Theatrical Experiences of the Decade 2010-2019

In the beginning of 2010 I did a top New York City theatrical experiences of the decade, so it follows I should so one for the 2010s. I did 16 entries in 2010, so I guess it also follows I should do 16 entries again.

IN ORDER OF THEIR FIRST APPEARANCE

Hedwig & the Angry Inch Belasco Theatre

Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey, January 7, 2011
Wakka Wakka Productions at Baruch Performing Arts Center

Wakka Wakka has become one of my favorite theater companies, and it all began with their production of Baby Universe in 2011. Both wildly innovative and incredibly emotional, the show used puppets to tell the tale of a government program to save the population of an unnamed, dying planet in a dying universe. I have since seen Wakka Wakka’s SAGA and Made in China, which were wonderful, but the expansiveness of Baby Universe eclipses them, and I still think back on that production as one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen. It felt like these were puppets doing what they were born to do. Wakka Wakka doesn’t usually revive their shows in NYC, but I wish they’d bring back this one.

Sleep No More, March and April 2, 2011
The McKittrick Hotel

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to volunteer on this production. For five months, my sister and I helped make props, paint walls, clean rooms, organize taxidermied animals, lay bricks, and do any other sort of ad hoc task they might have needed me to do when I showed up at the warehouse that would soon become the McKittrick Hotel. I wanted to do something in theater where I’d get my hands dirty. I wanted to see this space transform. I wanted to show up at Sleep No More with a deeper understanding than the average theater-goer. And it was all worth it. I was able to see the show twice for a total of $10 and explore a labyrinthine space both familiar and surprising. Audiences walk the space of their own free will, wherever their eyes and feet take them. I found what I called a Narnia closet (a passageway in the back of a closet that takes you straight through to another hallway). I tried desperately for a one-on-one, during which a cast member pulls you into a room and recites a monologue for you, but I wound up with a semi-private pendulum dance show. After three hours, or three performance loops, we all gathered in the main hall for the final event. It was immersive theater at its most popular, but also at its most grand. And I was able to immerse myself in it fully. The show is still playing, but I haven’t been back since 2011. The show now exists as a memory of an amazing expererience. Like a dream.

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Countdown to 2020: 2019 Books

2019 Books

Last year, I read 14 books! This year I also read 14! I surpassed my usual goal of 10 books per year. I also listened to a lot of podcast and will start including those at the end of this list.

One of those books was an A Series of Unfortunate Events book–I had started this re-read of the series with my babysitting charge and then finished it on my own. I have now read the complete series twice (and many of the books three or more times).I usually separate the children’s books out, but since none of these were really read during babysitting, I’m including them all as one group this year.

Overall, I read 8 fiction books (5 contemporary, 1 classic, 1 YA, 1 book of short stories–last year I read 5 fiction), 3 non-fiction books (2 books of essays, including a theater book of essays, and 1 theater history book–last year I read 5 non-fiction), 2 children series books, and 1 book of poetry. I read 3 non-American authors this year (only 1 non-English speaking one, however); last year I only read American authors. Last year I read 8 female authors, with 4 being women of color; this year I also read 8, with only 1 being a woman of color. 3 books were for my virtual book club with my college friends (last year there were 4), and 3 were for another book club at work (last year there were 2). Usually I try to read 1 book by someone I know, which kind of counts this year with reading Musical Theater Today. 1 book I read because it related to something I was writing/working on (same as last year).

These stats are fairly similar to last year’s. I am happy that I kept up with reading more women authors and increased the number of non-American authors, although I’d like to try to go back to reading more women of color next year. I did not keep my resolution to read 1 feminism book a year this year, however I did keep my good mix of fiction, non-fiction, children/young adult books, and poetry. I would have liked it to be a better balance between the fiction and non-fiction, but I read a lot for my book clubs this year, and all those selections were fiction. My resolution has been to read 1 poetry book a year, and I have stuck to that, as well as to my resolution to read 1 Thornton Wilder book a year. However, one of my resolutions last year AND the years before that had been to read a biography, and I still did not do that. I tried to this year, but did not have enough time. I basically achieved all my reading goals except for biography and a feminism book, though. Next year: Continue with at least a 50:50 ratio for women to men authors and continue with my reading variety–make sure to continue to read 1 poetry book a year, 1 feminism book a year, and 1 Wilder book a year–but make sure to read a biography as well.

I also read 6 New Yorkers (2 less than last year) and 6 New York magazines (1 less than last year) in between each book, as well as various other magazine/web articles. Plus, every Time Out New York until they cancelled the subscription. I’m a little disappointed I fell in my magazine reading. Next year: Try to bring myself up to previous years’ numbers of 10 New Yorkers and 10 New York magazines a year.

I’ll still list the online reading/writing classes I was in. This year, I did ModPo this fall and started an Iowa Writing Center class (Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Facts), to be finished next year. Last year I didn’t read any short stories except for those in the short story collection I read. This year, I read 2 as part of my new online class. Two years ago, I read 9, however, so there’s still work to do there as well.

My favorite book(s) of the year:
The Cleft by Doris Lessing
Everything was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies by Ted Chapin
American Characteristics and Other Essays by Thornton Wilder (I mean, I love everything by Thornton Wilder, so…)
Theory of Flight from The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser by Muriel Rukeyser


The List:

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Countdown to 2020: 2019 TV

Disclaimer: I only rank shows that I watch and I’m not a TV critic. Also, there are some spoilers. Read at your own risk…

I watched a lot more TV this year than in previous years. Not sure how I found the time, but the only show I wanted to watch this year but didn’t get to was Russian Doll. That will have to be for 2020. Overall, three of my favorite shows ended, but there are some promising new shows to keep me watching.

1. A Series of Unfortunate Events
A great end to what has been a true gift for A Series of Unfortunate Events fans. The series found a way to give us the visuals I craved as I was reading, as well as additional scenes to flesh out more of the mystery. These episode encompassed some of my favorites of the books (Slippery SlopePenultimate Peril), and they were given justice. Thank you to Netflix for taking on this series.

2. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
I don’t know if I agree with how Rebecca’s story ended, and certainly fake Greg was frustrating, but Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was still one of the best shows on TV this year. They had always planned to wrap things up this way, and they got to do just that. Plus, we all got to see Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live soon after, which kept the party going.

3. The Good Place
The Good Place has gone so many strange and different places this year. It’s a little hard to keep up and keep track… in the best way! The characters are so delightful that I’ve loved them no matter what the series has thrown at them. It’s such a fun ride, and I’m not sure where it could possibly end.

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Countdown to 2020: 2019 Theater

Slava’s Snowshow

Last year I saw 65 shows, my lowest yet. This year I saw 89. I don’t know whether to congratulate myself for increasing my number by more than 20 and getting back to where I’d been in previous years or chastise myself for spending too much time at the theater and not enough on my own writing and other things. Last year I’d accepted the fact that I was now only going to be seeing 60-70 shows a year. However, last fall I was incredibly busy with my own shows, so I did miss a lot that I’d wanted to see. Would I rather see less and do my own writing and shows more? I don’t have an answer.

I saw a good number of these shows for free or paid a discount rate. I saw Is This a Room 3 times and A Strange Loop and Slava’s Snowshow 2 times. I also performed in 4 of them: The Pops holiday concert twice, one of the Free Dirt/Bootleg Comedy shows, and my own cabaret at the Duplex. 5 shows were concerts/workshops of my own work: The 4 performances of the Stonewall Operas and Days of Rage in Concert. 1 show (as opposed to last year’s 3) was connected to an article I wrote, this one for American Theater Magazine. 1 was in New Orleans. 15 were comedy (standup or improv) shows, 6 were operas, 1 was an album release concert.

I have highlighted my favorites, and after the favorites is the HUGE list of everything I saw. Then, I have listed some fun panels, exhibits, and events I also attended this year.

Top 10 Favorites (in no order, I swear):

Is This a Room (The Kitchen and The Vineyard)
Significant Other (Reading–JCC)
Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizons)
The Origin of Love: The Songs and Stories of Hedwig (Town Hall)
What the Constitution Means to Me
Salty Brine: My Life Has Been Extraordinary (Pangea)
Oklahoma
Slava’s Snowshow
The Stonewall Operas (all performances but especially the Sunday night at The Stonewall Inn)

Runners Up (Also in no order):
Choir Boy (MTC)
Lyrics and Lyricists: Rodgers and Hart (92nd Street Y)
Anne of Green Gables (Royal Family)
The Prom
Hillary and Clinton
Caroline, or Change (APAC)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live (Radio City)
Octet (Signature Theatre)
My Fair Lady (Lincoln Center Theater)
In the Green (LCT3)
Be More Chill
Evita (City Center Encores!)
One in Two (The New Group)

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Countdown to 2020: 2019 Movies

Well, I really stepped up my game this year. Last year I saw 5 movies, a new low, and that was with the streaming movies. This year I saw 15 movies in theaters! I’m really proud of myself for seeing more films and also proud of the movie industry for making and re-showing more films I want to see.

Terminator: Dark Fate

I saw 12 new movies in the theater. 5 were big releases, and 1 of those was with my company as a field trip. 1 was at a film festival, 1 was at Comic Con, 3 were at Film Forum, 1 was at the IFC Center, and 1 was at the Quad Cinema. I also saw 3 older films in the theaters: 1 at Film Forum, 1 at the Walter Reade Theater, and 1 at the IFC. Totals for theaters: 4 films at Film Forum, 2 films at the IFC Center, 1 film at the Quad Cinema, 1 film at the Walter Reade Theater, 1 film at Comic Con, 1 film at the Regal 42nd Street, 1 film at the Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, 1 film at Battery Park, 1 film at Harlem’s Magic Johnson, 1 film at AMC 34th Street , and 1 film at the Ambler Theater in Ambler, PA.  I saw all but one of these movies for the first time.

My rating system uses stars and equates as follows: 1=bad, 2=ok 3=really good 4=great.

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

My favorite new movies (4 stars) this year were:
Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse
Terminator: Dark Fate
Little Women

Runners up (3.5 stars):
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
Jay Myself

My favorite old movie I saw for the first time:
Hedwig and the Angry Inch

My favorite old movies I loved seeing again:
The Big Lebowski

The (Not-So) Big List:
Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse****
Out of Blue (Athena Film Festival)**
Rocketman***
The Big Lebowski (Film Forum)***1/2
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (IFC)****
Jay Myself (Film Forum)***1/2
Fiddler: Miracle of Miracles (Quad)**1/2
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Film Forum)***1/2
Nashville (Walter Reade)***1/2
Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (Film Forum)***1/2
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (Comic Con)***
Fleabag (IFC)***
Terminator: Dark Fate****
It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood***
Little Women****


DVD/Streaming
I also saw 12 movies via DVD/Streaming this year.

Sleepyaway Camp
Sleepaway Camp II
Poltergeist
Iron Man
Charade
The Hulk
The Music Man
Iron Man 2
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Thor
Orlando
Hannah and Her Sisters (twice)

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DAYS OF RAGE in Concert at Green Room 42!

On Friday, October 25th, at 7pm, join me for Days of Rage in Concert at the beautiful Green Room 42 (42nd Street and 10th Avenue). Days of Rage has music and book by Hyeyoung Kim, with lyrics by me, and this concert will feature 14 of our beautiful and powerful songs. We’re so excited, and we hope you can be there.

Cast and Creative Team Info and Ticket Link

BroadwayWorld.com Press Release

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NOT COMING BACK, Well, Came Back!

My one-woman show, NOT COMING BACK, well, came back on September 16th at the Duplex Cabaret Theater. I perform the entire 60-minute show, which includes both original songs and a few songs from musicals and popular songs. I love working on and performing this show, which has music by seven composers that I’ve worked with: Gaby Alter, Eric Day, Rob Hartmann, Gregory Jacobs-Roseman, Hyeyoung Kim, Julia Meinwald, and Russell Stern. Each song has a different feel and yet is totally of the piece. I was also lucky to work again with my director Lori Steinberg and my music director Christopher D. Littlefield and an awesome band, 2/3 of which were able to return for this showing. Video clips are coming soon!

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An Interview with the Writers of the Musical Black Hole Wedding

Renewable Energy is coming to the New York Musical Festival–in the form of the new musical Black Hole Wedding. In this satire of energy politics, a corrupt oil baron battles a shy geek and his fiancé in the face of a large and powerful black hole. I talked to writers Katherine Brann Fredricks (words) and Paul E. Nelson (music) about musicalizing a black hole, researching and writing about a chicken bone fuel generator and an electronic sniffer, and why you shouldn’t call this a sci-fi musical. 

Shoshana Greenberg: Where did this idea come from?

Katherine Fredricks: Paul wanted to do an office musical, something set in an office. He mentioned Dilbert, and I said, ‘Yeah, but we don’t have the rights to that.’ And so we were talking, and he said something about a black hole trash compactor, and I just fell over laughing. And so we were like, we have no idea what the show is, we have no clue, but yes, we’re writing something about a black hole trash compactor. 

Paul Nelson: My original idea, because I’ve started a couple of companies, was to have the world’s worst start-up company make a black hole trash compactor, and because the company’s so dysfunctional they threaten the entire earth. That was the genesis of the idea. It ended up going in a much more political direction, appropriately, I think. It was an interesting blend of both of our ideas. 

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American Opera Projects To Present The Stonewall Operas

I’m so excited to have been involved in this program! My 30-minute opera with composer Kevin Cummines goes up this Saturday, May 18th, with additional performances on May 19th and May 20th at the Stonewall Inn itself.

There are four half-hour long mini-operas inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots will making their world premiere at NYU’s Shubert Theatre and the Stonewall Inn. The four operas performed will conclude NYU’s Stonewall at 50 Series, a collection of panels, performances, events, and discussions commemorating the riots and their legacy.

Our opera is called “The Community,” and it is directed by I-Chen Wang.
It’s 400 years in the future, and humanity has rebuilt itself after an apocalyptic event that sent the survivors into another dark age. The only artifact they have from the previous civilization is a book on the history of the Stonewall Uprising. A madcap dystopian comedy that asks, what happens when a society is built on the story of Stonewall and what happens when someone wants to deviate from the norms?

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Countdown to 2019: 2018 Books

2018 in Books

Last year, I read 11 books! This year I read 14! Two of those books were A Series of Unfortunate Events books–I had started this re-read of the series with my babysitting charge and now I’m finishing it on my own. I also read the children’s book Hero Dog at babysitting, so I included that as well. I completed my usual goal of 10 books (not babysitting books) per year, adding an extra one this year for a total of 11 non-children’s/babysitting books. I’m glad I’ve kept up and even surpassed my reading pace.

Overall, I read 5 fiction books (3 classics, 1 new (fantasy), and 1 book of short stories–last year I read 4), 5 non-fiction books (1 history book, 3 memoir/personal history books, and 1 feminism book–overall, the same as last year), 3 children series books, and 1 book of poetry. I didn’t read any non-American authors this year; last year it had been 2. I also decreased in my number of women authors from 9/11 to 8/14 (not really a major decrease), with 4 of the 8 being women of color. 4 books were for my virtual book club with my college friends, and 2 were for another book club at work. Usually I read 1 book by someone I know, which I wasn’t able to do last year, but this year I did with the poetry book. 1 book I read because it related to something I was writing/working on.

These stats are fairly similar to last year’s. I am happy that I kept up with reading more women authors, although I’d like to try to read more non-American authors again next year. I also kept up my resolution to read 1 feminism book a year and to keep my good mix of fiction, non-fiction, children/young adult books, and poetry. My resolution has been to read 1 poetry book a year, and I have stuck to that, as well as to my resolution to read 1 Thornton Wilder book a year. However, one of my resolutions last year AND the years before that had been to read a biography, and I still did not do that.  I basically achieved all my reading goals except for biography, though. Next year: Continue with at least a 50:50 ratio for women to men authors and continue with my reading variety–make sure to continue to read 1 poetry book a year, 1 feminism book a year, and 1 Wilder book a year–but make sure to read a biography as well.

I also read 8 New Yorkers (1 more than last year!) and 7 New York magazines (2 more than last year!) in between each book, as well as various other magazine/web articles. Plus, every Time Out New York. Next year: Try to bring myself up to previous years’ numbers of 10 New Yorkers and 10 New York magazines a year.

I’ll still list the online reading/writing classes I was in, although unfortunately I was not able to keep up with ModPo this fall. I kept up with some of the posts, however, and will look over the materials in the new year. Last year I read 9 short stories, and I didn’t read any this year except for those in the book collection I read. I’d like to get back to reading short stories next year as well.

Favorite Book of 2018

My favorite book(s) of the year:
Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own
Kindred
The Ides of March

Special shoutout to Backlash, which I read for the second time and still loved, especially reading it in the reading group.


The List:

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