Sorry, but I couldn’t narrow it down to 10. I saw about 45 plays in New Jersey this year, and looking over my reviews, I felt 12 of them deserved a mention in my year-end best-of list.
So here they are, in alphabetical order. Click on the play name to read my original review.
“Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,” McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. This Holmes doesn’t scowl. Or, if he does, it’s only for comic effect, with a mischievous laugh soon to follow. This new play reinterprets the famous Holmes novel, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” as a breezy romp, with many quick costume changes from three of the five cast members (those not playing Holmes and Watson) and inventive, surprise-filled staging.
“Be More Chill,” Two River Theater, Red Bank. An effervescent, feel-good musical about a teen who stumbles on a pill that he thinks will solves all his problems.
“Buyer & Cellar,” George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick. John Tartaglia gave one of the performances of the year in this sharp-edged comedy about a man hired to work in Barbra Streisand’s basement.
“A Comedy of Tenors” at McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. Ken Ludwig follows up his popular 1986 comedy, “Lend Me a Tenor” with an equally entertaining one, set two years later, with the same characters, in Paris.
“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” Two River Theater, Red Bank. Presenting “Forum” with an all-male cast made it seem even more ridiculous than usual. And with “Forum,” the more ridiculousness, the better.
“Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s outdoor stage at the College of St. Elizabeth in Morris Township. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey brought an appropriately light touch to the over-the-top silliness of one of The Bard’s frothiest concoctions.
“The Nether,” Centenary Stage Company, Hackettstown. A powerful nightmare of a play, exploring morality — or the lack, thereof — in the virtual world.
“Repairing a Nation,” Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick. Nikkole Salter’s gripping new drama delves into the lingering power of a family’s, and a community’s, past.
“The Seedbed,” New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch. A tension-filled tale of an Irish family in crisis, with some startling revelations along the way.
“Tar Beach,” Luna Stage, West Orange. A shy, sensitive teenager and her working class Queens, N.Y. family struggle to make it through the chaotic “Summer of Sam.”
“Trying,” Cape May Stage. An absorbing two-person play, with Howard Green and Allison Plamondon giving utterly convincing performances as an irascible ex-Attorney General and his new secretary.
“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn. The Paper Mill presented a lot of big musicals this year, but for pure enjoyment, you couldn’t beat this non-musical — a first class production of Christopher Durang’s hilarious 2012 comedy.