Best of 2018: Live Performance & Audio

When it comes to live performance, my 2018 was consumed with the creation and promotion of SPECIAL at Theatre of NOTE (a backstage comedy about the the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special on the 40th anniversary of its one and only disastrous broadcast airing) -- a play that one of the original writers, Lenny Ripps, said was "great...and you can tell people I said so"!

But as for the rest of the live performance and/or audio I enjoyed in the past 365 days, let's start with...

2018 THEME SONG: "Defying Gravity" - Idina Menzel (Wicked)


Favorite Live Band Stumbled Upon at SXSW:

Top Five 2018 Live Performances:

1. THE VALUE OF MOSCOW (Sacred Fools, Los Angeles): A crackerjack combo of sharp writing (by playwright Amy Dellagiarino), charismatic performances, flawless timing, and startling onstage blood effects in a comedy about three damaged sisters whose various mental issues escalate into deadly, drunken mayhem.

2. ROCKER MAGAZINE'S ROCK & ROLL TRIVIA w/Erin & Brett (Sinclair, Boston)

Long-time Boston music scenesters Erin Amar and Brett Milano host a fun-filled music trivia quiz party once a month (lately at the Sinclair in Harvard Square) chock full of banter, prizes, and frequent appearances (in the audience and onstage) by area musicians and, once in a blue moon, a beloved keytar-playing bear.

3. LOSS OF BREATH (Suffolk University Theater Department, Boston)

Writer/director Wesley Savick employed everything from puppetry to Japanese Noh drama in this gorgeously gothic and deeply theatrical dramatization of the life and works of Edgar Allen Poe (featuring a haunting "buried alive" sequence not soon nor easily forgotten).

4. ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN (Orpheum, Boston)

Returning to the venerable old rockin' rattletrap Orpheum Theater for the first time in decades was a big part of the appeal of my night with the Bunnymen, who sealed the New Wave deal with timeless renditions of their '80s hits like "The Cutter" and "Bring on the Dancing Horses" along with a totally boss cover of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."

5. THE HUMANS (Shubert Theatre, Boston)

The physics-defying two-floor set is the star of Stephen Karam's tale of contemporary middle-class ennui, but the funny, naturalistic banter of an Irish-American family's dysfunctional Manhattan Thanksgiving is the true heart of the show (with or without a somewhat unnecessary climactic dramatic twist and a surrealistic finale I couldn't quite see from the cheap seats).

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