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Art by Jason Simon

Token Theatre Friends: You Saw 253 Shows?!

The Friends look back on their favorite shows of 2018, and have an announcement about BroadwayCon!

Twice a month on the Token Theatre Friends video series and podcasts, theatre critics (and theatre besties) Jose Solís and Diep Tran bring a POC perspective to the performing arts.

For their last episode of 2018, the Friends look back at a year’s worth of interviews and share their favorite outtakes, including Laura Osnes discussing her favorite cosplay designer, William Jackson Harper and Joe Iconis getting real and talking about the harshness of the business, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Margo Seibert talking about their favorite foods, and the Miss You Like Hell lionesses Daphne Rubin-Vega and Gizel Jiménez answering questions en español.

On the podcast the Friends talked about their favorite shows of the year in New York (after seeing a collective 300+ shows).

Diep’s Top 5 Shows of 2018

1) What the Constitution Means to Me – Heidi Schreck recreates a speech she gave when she was 15 and at the same time explores how women and people of color have fought hard to be represented in our nation, and gives us all a path through these troubling times when it feels like the Constitution itself is failing us. It’s also playing until Dec. 30, produced by New York Theatre Workshop, so…go!

2) Black Light – Daniel Alexander Jones uses music, storytelling, and fabulous costume changes to invite all of us to be active witnesses to the times we’re living in, and provides a bit of hope, a light if you will, in these dark times. (Daniel was also the second guest the Token Theatre Friends hosted, so we have a soft spot for him.)

3) Oklahoma! – Director Daniel Fish’s revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic reorchestrated the score, and was staged so vividly it felt like it could have been written today. And the Friends are so excited to see it again when the musical opens on Broadway in the spring.

4) Slave Play – You walk into Jeremy O’Harris’s play thinking it’s going to be one thing (per the title) but it turns into something else, and explores how the legacy of slavery and racism has an effect on modern romantic relationships. It’s also now running until Jan. 13 at New York Theatre Workshop.

5) Dance Nation – Claire Barron writes the best dialogue for young girls, and Dance Nation is no exception. The play, about teenage dancers readying themselves for competition, is refreshing in portraying girlhood and friendships without resorting to catty stereotypes.

Jose’s Top 5 Shows of 2018

1) Miss You Like Hell – Daphne Rubin-Vega and Gizel Jiménez played a mother and daughter separated by resentment, doubt, and the messy immigration system. The musical’s message has become more relevant and necessary with each passing week under the current administration.

2) Fairview – Family celebrations gone awry are a standard in the American theatre tradition, but never have they been done Jackie Sibblies Drury style. The playwright turns the concept on its head and explores white people’s obsession with African American stereotypes and performative wokeness.

3) Yerma – Billie Piper gave the performance of the year in Simon Stone’s adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s seminal play about motherhood. The giant glass box the play took place in at first seemed like a terrarium, but with each passing moment, it became clear it was perhaps protecting audiences from the force unleashed by Piper.

4) Stephanie J. Block in The Cher Show/LaChanze in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical Two examples of Broadway actresses at the peak of their powers becoming the authorial force of their shows. Strong-willed, in beautiful voice, and unexpectedly insightful, Block and LaChanze put their personal seals on two of the most iconic performers of all time.

5) The House That Will Not Stand – Marcus Gardley combined Federico García Lorca and Beyoncé to create one of the year’s most vibrant plays. An examination of the disgraceful legacy of slavery and the power of African American women, it had one of the year’s most rousing moments and an all-female ensemble for the ages. 

And we have an announcement: Token Theatre Friends will be hosting a live podcast at BroadwayCon on Jan. 12, 2019 at 12:30, with special guest performer Diana Oh (My Lingerie PlayThe Infinite Love Party) and composer Max Vernon (The View UpstairsKPOP). Tickets are here.

Download the episode here.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Subscribe to Token Theatre Friends videos on YouTube.

Have comments, suggestions for segments, shows to plug, or thoughts on how the Friends can be even better? Contact the Token Theatre Friends via email or Twitter.

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