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The Memory of All That: Playbill.com Contributors Choose Unforgettable Experiences of 2011

By Adam Hetrick
30 Dec 2011

Euan Morton in Parade.
Euan Morton in Parade.
Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
photo by Michael Lutch

Seth Rudetsky, Playbill Contributing Writer

Norm Lewis interpolated high note at the end of "I Got Plenty Of Nuthin'" in Porgy and Bess. So shocking, unexpected and crazily well-sung. Only surpassed by his singing and moving interpretation of the show's final song which left me with tears coming from my eyes.

Audra McDonald coming out on stage [in Porgy and Bess] and within one minute singing an operatic high B! Take that, people who only know her from "The Practice"!

I love the way Benjamin Schrader (in Book Of Mormon) sings "So you won't burn in he-e-e-e-e-e-e-ello-o-o-o-o-o!" in the opening number. I rewind it all the time!

Terri White's sassy tap dancing in Follies. When I was playing piano at Rose's Turn and she was a waitress, I knew she was a beltress...but who knew she could haul out the pull backs?!?!?!!?

Patti LuPone having the nerve to have the exact same range she had in 1979. I've said it before and I'll say it again; the next revival of The Picture of Dorian Gray should star her larynx.

The Mary Poppins kids at Gypsy of the Year doing junior versions of classic plays. Completely obsessed with that little boy skipping around chanting, "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf…" and then the ten-year-old girl with a haggy Elizabeth Taylor wig raising her arms in frustration to heaven and screaming, "I-I-I-I-I-I-I A-A-A-A-A-A-AM!!!!!!!" 

Bertie Carvel in Matilda The Musical.
photo by Manuel Harlan

Mark Shenton, Playbill.com London Correspondent

There is a moment in the National Theatre's production of One Man, Two Guvnors (now heading to Broadway in April, so you'll be able to see for yourself) where I laughed so hard I thought I would stop breathing. I won't say what it was, so that I don't spoil the surprise, but suffice to say it involves a doddery old waiter (played by Tom Edden in the year's funniest performance).

London Road, also at the National, was the year's most unusual and surprisingly transcendent musical, setting the actual words of those affected by the murders of several prostitutes in Ipswich in 2006 to music. There's a stunning moment where a TV newscaster has to deliver a convoluted speech to camera, and keeps getting it jumbled up. The actor playing the role has to remember it in four or five slightly different configurations, singing it at the time. Amazing!

The Baker's Wife, Stephen Schwartz's musical that closed on the road on the way to Broadway in its original production, was reclaimed on the London fringe in a stunningly moving production at the tiny Union Theatre. As the baker and his wife are reunited at the end, staring across at each other as they knead the dough, they kneaded my heart.

The RSC's production of Matilda The Musical is full of favourite moments -- but none more so than when Bertie Carvell's monstrous school headmistress vaults a gymnasium horse, or throws a young girl to the theatre ceiling by her pigtails. Hilarious!

Jude Law, emerging stripped bare to the waist, emerging from the sea dripping with water and sweat, in Rob Ashford's production of Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse, was the year's single most electrifying sight.

For bare, fully exposed flesh, however, there was nothing to beat Danny Boyle's production of Frankenstein, which had Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch, alternating as the creature and his creator, stark naked for the first 15 minutes. Miller may have had an all-too-close body shave, but won by a good few inches.



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