Julie White’s sinfully funny turn as an amoral Hollywood agent in Douglas Carter Beane’s The Little Dog Laughed. The amazing first two minutes of the dreadful two-hour-long Tarzan: proof that stagecraft will get you only so far. The Atlantic Theater Company punched above its weight, sending two terrific shows, The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Spring Awakening, to Broadway. Speaking of which, Spring Awakening’s slightly naughty publicity push. Hot theater advertising: Who knew? Overlooked History Boy Jamie Parker, the piano player: Even the one you never heard about was terrific. Kate Valk’s riveting, brave blackface deconstruction of The Emperor Jones for the Wooster Group. Scott Morfee and Tom Wirtshafter, continuing their run from Bug to Orson’s Shadow to No Child and making the Barrow Street Theatre a bright spot Off Broadway.
Jeremy Shamos’s dual triumph: smooth playing an old-fashioned romantic leading man in Trouble in Paradise and hilarious as a goofball in Gutenberg! The Musical! Jefferson Mays stole the show as the feckless vice-president in Of Thee I Sing at the “Encores!” series. André Benjamin’s Cab Calloway tribute under the closing credits of Idlewild—not onstage but still the best old-school musical-theater number of the year. Kiki and Herb’s you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it encore, a larynx-busting, keyboard-pounding cover of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” The heartbreaking Roslyn Ruff in Seven Guitars. Lestat’s silver lining: possibly driving the final stake through the vampire musical’s heart. Led by Meryl Streep, Brecht’s Mother Courage was as fierce as ever. Gerry Bamman and Steve Mellor returned as Nixon and Kissinger in a biting revival of Nixon’s Nixon, Russell Lees’s depressingly relevant play about Tricky Dick’s last night in office.