Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Drama King's TOP 5 Theatre Productions of 2011

As 2011 comes to an end, it is time to reflect back on the best and brightest in San Diego theatre this past year. While I didn’t get to see every theatrical production that graced our local stages, I did see enough to compile a list of my five favorites.

So, here are my TOP 5 picks (in no particular order) along with excerpts from my reviews of these top-notch productions:

1. Cabaret at Cygnet Theatre:

“Director Sean Murray should be commended for not producing a carbon copy version of the original 1966 Broadway production, the 1972 Bob Fosse film, or the 1998 Sam Mendes revival. Instead, he has shied away from all these various interpretations and re-imagined the show from the ground up. He has kept the compelling book by Joe Masteroff and the delicious Kander and Ebb score intact, but has found creative ways to twist the staging so that the material feels fresh and relevant.”

2. August: Osage County at The Old Globe:

“As skeletons are ripped out of the closet, no topic is off limits and arguments about incest and infidelity are just the tip of the branches in the twisted and tangled Weston family tree….Despite the play’s roller coaster of heightened, raw emotion and volatile personalities, there is still an incredible amount of unexpected humor and wit. It is comedy of a sarcastic, biting nature. And every single line of it is brilliantly written and brilliantly delivered.”

3. Lend Me A Tenor at North Coast REP:

“Director Matthew Wiener’s spry staging hits all of the right marks at exactly the right time. That is no easy feat given a farce of this magnitude being performed on a stage the size of a postage stamp. However, Wiener imbues his seasoned comic actors with a pace and timing that is as close to perfection as possible. Nowhere is this more apparent than the show’s curtain call in which the entire cast comes out and re-enacts the plot of the nearly two hour play in 90 seconds or less (and every door slam and sight gag is right on the mark, all the way up until the play’s end).”

4. Of Mice and Men at New Village Arts Theatre:

“New Village Arts’ Of Mice and Men is one of those rare productions in which all the theatrical stars align perfectly to create a memorable and magical theatrical experience. As gritty and gripping as it is real, this sublime revival gives new hope to the potential of live theatre, proving its power to transport us to a different time and place to tell us a tale that touches our hearts as well as our minds.”

5. The Servant of Two Masters at Lamb’s Players Theatre:

“If you are in the mood for a delightful and delicious evening of screwball comedy, then Lamb’s Players Servant is a must-see. It is a fresh and vibrant new musical filled to the brim with broad physical comedy, laugh-out-loud lines, and some tour-de-force performances that will have you laughing (or at least chuckling) all the way home.”

Photos courtesy of (from top to bottom): Daren Scott, Henry DiRocco, Aaron Rumley, Daren Scott, and J.T. Macmillan.

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