What Was the Best Performance of 2014? Readers Respond | Playbill

Polls What Was the Best Performance of 2014? Readers Respond Playbill.com asked readers to select their favorite performances from the past year, one filled with numerous standouts and excellent productions. Some of the responses, culled from Facebook and Twitter, follow.

Jessie Mueller in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

Mueller’s starring performance in Beautiful saw her win both the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. Mueller portrays the chart-topping music legend Carole King and her remarkable rise to stardom. The show features numerous timeless hits sung by Mueller, including the title tune. The young actress is no stranger to Broadway, having already been nominated for awards for her performances in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

Emily Padgett and Erin Davie
Emily Padgett and Erin Davie Photo by Joan Marcus

Erin Davie and Emily Padgett in Side Show

Theo T Sang: Erin Davie and Emily Padgett in Side Show…amazing voices! And despite being connected, their talents make you forget they are by the end.

Alyssa Jaffe: Erin Davie and Emily Padget in Side Show. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen, and I traveled from LA just to see the show. It was definitely worth it, and was in one word: phenomenal. I have never cried so much during a show in my life. That show should NOT be closing!

Not surprisingly, Playbill.com readers had a hard time choosing just one favorite from the stunning Broadway revival of the cult musical Side Show, about conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Both Erin Davie and Emily Padgett gave heartfelt performances as the twins, whose lives were plagued by scrutiny from a world that viewed them as carnival attractions. The show, which closes Jan. 4, garnered rave reviews from critics and won the approval of the original fan base. 


Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris Photo by Joan Marcus

Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Keri Bahr: NPH in Hedwig!!! Loved every moment of that show!

Colleen Gorman: Neil Patrick Harris! Hedwig! It was magical!

Candace Macan: Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch! I feel like he brought a new dimension to the character and made it something different : )

Gwion Jones: It Has to go out to NPH for Hedwig on Broadway! He awakened the diva inside Hedwig. He’s such a gifted actor.

Neil Patrick Harris amazed fans and critics in the title role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch when it opened at the Belasco Theatre in April 2014. The show, directed by Michael Mayer with a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, won several Tony Awards, including Best Actor in a Musical for Harris’ depiction of the transgender rock singer. Lena Hall’s performance as Yitzhak opposite Hedwig also garnered critical acclaim and a Tony Award. The popular production continues to play Broadway with Michael C. Hall currently in the starring role.


Idina Menzel in If/Then

Olivia Spuhler: If/Then! Amazing show, amazing cast and amazing songs

Laura Damadeo: My favorite performance of 2014 was Idina Menzel in If/Then. Her voice was in superb shape and her vocals blew me away. The story line was engaging and the rest of the cast was superb. Menzel brought such emotion into her acting and made you root for her throughout her journey as both Both and Liz.

Idina Menzel's starring performance in the new musical If/Then, about love, chance and destiny, saw her nominated for both Drama Desk and Tony Awards. Menzel continues to play the lead in If/Then at the Richard Rodgers Theatre and also has a host of exciting new projects for the future including a 2015 world tour. Her recent career feat as the voice of Elsa in Disney’s global box-office smash “Frozen” has seen her fan base explode beyond the world of Broadway.  

Alysha Umphress and Jay Armstrong Johnson
Alysha Umphress and Jay Armstrong Johnson Photo by Joan Marcus

Alysha Umphress and Jay Armstrong Johnson in On the Town

John Pierson: That of Alysha Umphress and Jay Armstrong Johnson in the outstanding On the Town! Doesn’t get any better than the chemistry these two share and exude. Kudos and much well deserved attention to this cast and show!

There are numerous standout performances in the Broadway revival of On the Town that opened at the beautifully restored Lyric Theatre in September 2014. For many, however, a highlight was the sizzling chemistry between Alysha Umphress as the impassioned and quirky Hildy and Jay Armstrong Johnson as the starry-eyed and loyal Chip. The two meet on the streets of New York City when Hildy offers Chip a ride in her taxi cab and they perform the duet “Come Up to My Place.” Umphress also impressed audiences with her solo “I Can Cook Too,” showing off her powerful vocals, acting talent and vibrant energy.


The cast of Here Lies Love

Bernie DeLeo: The entire cast of “Here Lies Love” – BEST. SHOW. EVER.

There is no doubt that the Public Theater’s Here Lies Love was an Off-Broadway highlight for many. The immersive musical, which closed Jan. 3, encouraged audiences to dance and sing along during performances. The show traces the life journey of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos, from rise to power to her descent into infamy. With music and lyrics by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, the show combined a unique 360-multimedia spectacle with energetic storytelling.

Ruthie Ann Miles and cast
Ruthie Ann Miles and cast Photo by Joan Marcus

Alex Sharp in Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Ellen Burns: In the midst of a season of amazing performance, it speaks even more that Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was my choice without hesitation. Soaring, soul searing and spectacular. His work changed me.

Stewart Jay Fimer: Totally agree on Alex Sharp – I am expecting to see him and his Tony Award…

Alex Sharp stars as the autistic and gifted 15-year-old Christopher in the acclaimed National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, currently playing the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The play was adapted by Simon Stephens from the best-selling book by Mark Haddon; the production, directed by Marianne Elliott, received overwhelmingly positive reviews since hitting Broadway in September 2014. The show marks Sharp’s Broadway debut.  

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe Photo by Johan Persson

Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan

The Michael Grandage Company production of Martin McDonagh’s hilarious play The Cripple of Inishmaan was yet another audience highlight on Broadway in 2014. Starring Daniel Radcliffe of “Harry Potter” fame as the crippled Billy, the show played the Cort Theatre from April to July and garnered critical acclaim during its run. Proving his talents go far beyond big-budget films, Radcliffe gave a heartfelt performance as the disabled, orphaned boy who desperately wants to break away from the tedium of small-town life. 

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