In place of the usual reviews, I’ve devoted this morning’s Wall Street Journal drama column to a retrospective look at the best American theater of 2006:
One of the things I’ve learned about American theater since becoming the Journal’s drama critic three years ago is that it stretches from sea to shining sea. Yes, Broadway is where the money is, but most of the best shows in America are to be found Off Broadway or out of town. I reviewed plays in 14 states and the District of Columbia during 2006, and saw good things nearly everywhere I went. For those who thrill to the inexplicable, irreplaceable magic of live theater, those are truly glad tidings.
Unadventurous playgoers who stick to the well-worn rut that runs between 42nd and 54th Streets in Manhattan have a way of forgetting that there is often (if not always) an inverse relationship between the artistic quality of a play and the size of its production budget. Among the most pleasing shows I saw in 2006, for instance, were four revivals, three Off Broadway and one in Chicago, produced by vest-pocket companies that between them didn’t have a quarter to spare on frills or furbelows….
No free link, so to find out what they were, and much, much more, pick up a copy of the Friday paper. (Believe me, you can afford it.) Alternatively, go here to subscribe to the Online Journal, which will give you immediate access to my review, plus the rest of the Journal‘s end-of-the-year wrapup of the cultural highlights of 2006. (If you’re already a subscriber, the column is here.)