The 10 Best Plays I Saw in Metro Phoenix in 2013
The setup: It's that time of year to look back and remember what the most amazing and marvelous experiences of 2013 were. (You don't have to, but it's our job.)
Laura Durant Devon Nickel (kneeling) and some of the horse-actors of Equus
I am filled with a sense of personal development when I realize that at least three times this year I concluded I'd seen one of the best plays ever, ever, ever, and all three times it was a musical. (It's far more likely that musicals are getting better than that I've learned anything. If anyone wants a tip, though, they all featured live music.)
So turn the page and let's go!
Like some of my colleagues, I'm giving up on putting these in order. They were all great. Links to the original New Times reviews appear in the headings.
Nearly Naked Theatre's Equus
Sarah Rodgers Melissa Rose Modifer and Evan Tyler Wilson in Next to Normal
I bet it's possible to really fuck up a production of this play, but NNT has done it twice perfectly, from what I hear. This year's, which I did see, was gorgeous and sincere and used stylized theatricality to take us to painfully real places, with a script that is genius but which, all by itself, might seem a bit dated thematically if it weren't for the troupe's passionate commitment.
Mesa Encore Theatre's Next to Normal
I thought a lot about whether I only liked this show because it had me gushing tears all over Mesa Arts Center's nice carpet by the curtain call. That might be why it's in my top three, but, weeping aside, it was objectively fantastic (as much as anything ever actually can be). Despite not having the strongest score ever, the play deserves its Pulitzer, and the script respects the characters and situation by leaving unresolved things that must be left that way.