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Friday, January 2, 2015

The Grooviest Theater and Music of 2014

Here are my theatrical favorites of 2014 in order of preference (click on a title to read my complete review):

6) This Is Our Youth
Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson were wonderful in Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Broadway-bound production of Kenneth Lonergan's play

5) Some Men
Pride Films and Plays' Chicago premiere of Terrence McNally's play featured a talented cast, including Tom Chiola, Patrick Rybarczyk, Edward Fraim and David Besky.

4) Carrie: The Musical
I finally got to see a production of this infamous Broadway flop, and I enjoyed it - especially actress Carrie Johnson's memorable performance in the title role.

3) Cages Dames
It wouldn't be an end-of-the-year "Grooviest" list without a show from David Cerda and Hell in a Handbag Productions, who gave us this hilarious "women in prison" musical comedy.

2) On the Town
This 1944 musical returned to Broadway last fall in a critically-acclaimed revival, but The Marriott Theatre (in Lincolnshire, IL) also gave us a thoroughly entertaining production with delightful performances from Max Clayton, Seth Danner, Jeff Smith, Johanna McKenzie Miller, Alex Goodrich, Brandi Wooten and Marya Grandy.

1) Buyer & Cellar
My favorite performance of the year was by the fabulous Michael Urie as Barbra Streisand's employee in the national tour of Jonathan Tolins' comedy.

And below are my favorite groovy music experiences of 2014:

Grooviest Concert/Music of 2014
Last September I had the great pleasure of seeing Spencer Day in concert for the first time - and he was, of course, amazing. I'm also choosing his latest album, Daybreak, as my favorite of the year. For more information on Mr. Day, go to

Grooviest Concert of 2014, Part 2
Last October I had the sublime pleasure of seeing Herb Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall, in concert for the first time - and I didn't know before the show that from 1966 to 1971 she was the lead vocalist for Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66, whose groovy music they also performed.

Grooviest Music Runner-Up: A Great Big World's debut album, Is There Anybody Out There?
For more information, go to

Grooviest Music Honorable Mention: American Authors' debut album, Oh, What a Life
For more information, go to

And the Grooviest Stand-Up Comedy Performance of 2014 goes to Margaret Cho, who made me laugh on September 6. She also shared her love and admiration for her friend Joan Rivers (who sadly left us on September 4), and below you can watch them together in a 2013 episode of Joan's web series, In Bed With Joan.

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