What Was The Best Show of 2014? Readers Respond | Playbill

Polls What Was The Best Show of 2014? Readers Respond The year is winding to an end, and 2014 has been a stellar one for theatre both on and Off-Broadway. As Playbill.com looks back on the year that was through favorite cast albums and top theatre stories, we took to social media to see which shows Playbill.com readers considered their picks of the season.
Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale
Kelli O'Hara and Steven Pasquale Photo by Joan Marcus

Bridges of Madison County

Sierra Sturt: The Bridges of Madison County. HANDS DOWN.

Brandon Bowman: The Bridges of Madison County. Ms. O’Hara was brilliant as always. Mr. Pasquale was absolutely extraordinary in what I adamantly feel was the best performance by a singing actor all season!

Ben Nigro: Bridges of Madison County, is a magnificent score sung by the richest male vocalist in years (Steven Pasquale) and the haunting resonance of Kelli O’Hara. Put together makes this short lived musical in the magical realm of musicals. I saw it three times and I still listen to the soundtrack.

Kevin Brault: BRIDGES. Why oh why? Gorgeous score, lyrics and cast. You should have lived longer.

A clear favorite amongst Playbill.com readers, Bridges of Madison County played on Broadway Jan. 17-May 18, 2014. With music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, the production was nominated for several Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League Awards and won Tony Awards for Best Orchestrations and Best Original Score. The musical tells the story of a devoted Iowa housewife and her unlikely love affair with a National Geographic photographer. Kelli O’Hara was nominated for both a Tony and Drama Desk Award for her lead performance as Francesca. Steven Pasquale, who starred opposite O’Hara as Robert, was also nominated for a Drama Desk Award.


Idina Menzel
Idina Menzel Photo by Joan Marcus


Cody Griffin: If/Then Musical DUHHH

Alanna Perkovich-Smith: If/Then spoke to me on SO many levels. The story was brilliant, the production value was genius and the cast was sublime! Meeting Idina Menzel after the show (and making her laugh as a result of being a total dork) was also a highlight as she is such a source of inspiration.

Jennine Gibbons: If/then. It's a one of a kind musical. Something new and fresh that is so captivating. The cast is phenomenal. I saw the show with both Idina Menzel and Jackie Burns as Elizabeth. Both are amazing as leads. Anthony Rapp also adds his unique personality and voice to the cast. It's a must see show.

Leanne Bryceland: If/Then. Never in my life did I think I would get to see Idina Menzel sing live in front of me....that, and her signing my playbill afterwards was my dream come true

The critically acclaimed Broadway production of If/Then was named New York Magazine’s Best Musical of the Year. The contemporary musical, by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal, stars Broadway darling Idina Menzel in the lead role of Elizabeth and follows her attempts to rebuild her life in New York, a city of infinite possibilities. Menzel was nominated for both a Drama Desk and Tony Award for her heartfelt performance. In speaking with Playbill.com, Menzel said she considered the show to be her salvation. If/Then opened in March 2014 and continues to play Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

Nathan Hinds: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Unforgettable. I get chills just thinking aobut it.

Audra McDonald’s critically acclaimed performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill saw her win a string of accolades, including a record-breaking sixth Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. Written by playwright Lanie Roberston, the play with music is set in 1959 in a seedy bar in Philadelphia and offers a riveting portrait of the late lady and her music during one of her last performances. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill ran on Broadway March 25-Oct. 5, 2014.


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

Side Show

Kelly Irelan: Side Show was beyond excellent. The cast as a whole was incredibly vibrant, and the beautiful sincerity achieved by both Daisy and Violet will stick with me. A true Broadway gem. Can’t believe it’s closing in January.

Timothy Madigan: Hands down, it’s been Side Show! Wonderfully revised with beautiful music and great acting, to go with lovely sets and designs.

Rachel Damon: Side Show was hauntingly beautiful. Impeccably acted across the board and the staging, set and lighting were incredibly effective, on of the best-directed productions I have seen in a while.



Academy Award winner Bill Condon (“Chicago”and “Dreamgirls”) made his Broadway directing debut with his reimagining of Side Show, which originally played on Broadway in 1997. Based on the legendary Hilton twins, Daisy and Violet, Side Show follows their painstaking search for love, security and acceptance amidst the chaos of celebrity and scrutiny. Henry Krieger and Bill Russell’s musical is set against the backdrop of 1920’s and 30’s worlds of carnival, vaudeville and Hollywood glamour. Erin Davie and Emily Padgett star as the leading ladies in this critically acclaimed production set to close Jan. 4, 2015. 


Tony Yazbeck in <i>On the Town</i>
Tony Yazbeck in On the Town Photo by Joan Marcus

On The Town: A Helluva Musical

Matt Luminello: ON THE TOWN. Went in having no expectations and a vague idea of what the story was about but was completely blown away. The ensemble and principals were all excellent, though the true stand out for me was the incomparable Alysha Umphress as Hildy. Beautiful staging, choreography and orchestrations. A must see, feel good, old fashioned, musical comedy for all to see. 

Sheila Brummel Rowe: On the Town! Huge, fabulous orchestra! Dancing & singing for everyone! Delightful entertainment!

The current production at the newly renamed Lyric Theatre marks the fourth time On the Town has come to Broadway. Set during World War II, the musical comedy classic follows three sailors on shore leave for one day in New York City. They encounter romance, adventure and much more. On the Town features a musical score by the legendary Leonard Bernstein and lyrics and book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The current Broadway revival is directed by Tony winner John Rando and choreographed by Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse, inspired by the original choreography of Jerome Robbins. Staged in the beautifully restored Lyric, the show boasts the biggest orchestra on Broadway.



Alexander Sharp
Alexander Sharp Photo by Joan Marcus

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Lyndsay Wilshaw: Curious Incident. I cried like a baby the entire first act. No other show touched me that deeply since I first watched Sunday in the Park with George on Netflix years ago.

Walt Fieger: Loved “Curious Incident”! Saw it the weekend before Thanksgiving and will be seeing it again in 2015. The lead, Alex Sharp should and will win the Tony!

Suzanne Gerhold: Curious Incident this year and for the 21st century. I see a lot of shows, and this one is unique, indelible and heart-wrenching. Ten minutes in, it shot to the top of my all time list.

Based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon, the National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has received critical acclaim since opening on Broadway in October 2014. The adaptation is written by two-time Olivier Award winner Simon Stephens and directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott. The play examines the life of autistic, 15-year-old Christopher and the intricacies of his extraordinary brain. Alex Sharp stars as Christopher, who happens on an incredible discovery and sets out on a journey that will change his life forever.

Barrett Wilbert Weed
Barrett Wilbert Weed Photo by Chad Batka

Heathers The Musical

Rachel Frangie: I love HEATHER, HEATHER and HEATHER. My vote is definitely Heathers the musical : )

Sean McInerney: Heathers the musical!! No doubt about it!!!! Probably in my top 5 favorite musicals !!! The soundtrack and story are just amazing!

Based on the cult teen comedy film “Heathers” starring Wynona Ryder, Heathers the Musical tells the story of brainy and beautiful teenage misfit Veronica Sawyer and her dangerous liaison with lethal new kid J.D. When Veronica is kicked out of the most powerful and ruthless clique at Westerberg High, the Heathers, J.D helps her conceive the ultimate deadly revenge plan. Adapted into a hilarious and heartfelt musical by the award-winning creative team of Kevin Murphy, Laurence O’Keefe and Andy Fickman, Heathers the Musical was a fan favorite Off-Broadway, with many hoping for a future Broadway transfer.


Ruthie Ann Miles
Ruthie Ann Miles Photo by Joan Marcus

Here Lies Love

Berne DeLeo: “Here Lies Love” @ The Publics – holy crap, what an amazing immersive experience!!

Joe Lex: Here Lies Love- “saw” it three times, sang along with Imelda twice

Here Lies Love was another Off-Broadway favorite in 2014, with its unique blend of contemporary song, dance, multi-media and immersive theatre. The story follows the journey of Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos from her rise to power to her descent into infamy. Staged at the Public Theater as a 360-degree spectacle, the production encourages frequent audience participation. The show and music were conceived by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.


Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris Photo by Joan Marcus

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Gwion Jones: Has to be HEDWIG on Broadway. SUCH a special and endearing show. It touches somewhere special in my heart

Nikau Alvaro: Hedwig was my favorite show of the year! No one beats NPH!

The popular rock musical by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, Hedwig and the Angry Inch opened on Broadway in April 2014 at the Belasco, where it continues to play. Directed by Tony winner Michael Mayer, the show tells the story of Hedwig, an East German transgender singer in a rock-and-roll band. Neil Patrick Harris was awarded the Tony Award for the title role, as was Lena Hall for her performance alongside Harris. The production currently stars Golden Globe winner Michael C. Hall, the star of the “Dexter” TV series. 

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