2007: The Shows In Review
This is the time of year when everyone trots out their “Top 10” lists. (Why ten? Who knows?) But I don’t want to miss out on the fun, so here’s mine - with one important difference. Since I was involved to one degree or another with a few of these shows, I’m not going to list them in order - I’m just going to reel off a list of ten good ones that were staged this year in no particular order (so sue me). Here goes:
- High School Musical (First Stage Theatre Co.) - This one was staged by three different groups, including the Backstage Players, the Charleston Light Opera Guild and First Stage in Huntington. They were all entertaining, but of course the latter is my personal favorite, since I directed it and all. (Hey, I never said the list would be impartial.) A terrific cast and the show was staged at the state’s best theater - the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center. A real delight!
- Little Shop of Horrors (Marshall University’s Department of Theatre) - MU always does terrific work, and Little Shop is another jewel in the crown. Funny, clever and loaded with great performances, it was an outstanding show.
- Hello Dolly! (ARTS) - You can never go wrong casting a Broadway star like Beth McVey in the title role, but an incredibly talented supporting cast and outstanding direction didn’t hurt, either. An excellent job on one of the classic musicals!
- Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Free Spirit) - This Steve Martin play knocked it out of the park. A sharp, clever, intelligent and darned funny play with an outstanding cast. The year’s funniest show!
- Oklahoma (HOT) - A real crowd-pleaser, there’s a good reason why this show is a classic. Add in the outdoor setting and a terrific cast and you get what audiences saw this summer - a great show!
- Cinderella (Huntington High School) - It’s easy to forget how much fun this musical can be, and the talented students at Huntington High turned in a top-notch performance here. Lots of fun!
- The Diary of Anne Frank (MU Theatre) - In many ways my favorite show of the year, with amazing performances and a truly moving and heartbreaking show. If you missed this, you missed a great show!
- Nunsense (Renaissance Players) - My feelings are mixed about the sequels, but I always enjoy the original Nunsense, and this was a terrific production with a real All-Star cast doing outstanding work. I couldn’t stop smiling!
- A Christmas Carol (5th Avenue Theatre) - It was tough to choose between this show and The Music Man (another excellent production), but this one wins out by a nose - an excellent retelling of the holiday classic!
- CATS (First Stage) - This was probably the most impressive production of the year, with an amazing amount of talent on display as local teens put on the costumes, wigs and makeup and brought this daunting, dancing show to life. Simply an unprecedented accomplishment in community theatre - and an incredible show!
This list isn't perfect, of course - it doesn’t include the professional shows brought in as part of the Marshall Artists Series, including Menopause: The Musical, The Guys, Wonderful Town and Peter Pan.
There are lots and lots of shows that deserve note as runners-up, including: MU Theatre’s I Hate Hamlet and The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940; Backstage Players’ Miracle on 34th Street; ACTC’s Jesus Christ, Superstar; Huntington High’s Snow White; Blazer High School’s Bell, Book and Candle and Have a Nice Day; Free Spirit’s The Prayer List; and First United Methodist Church’s production of Godspell. Fine shows all!
Apologies to all those I missed - and there are many, I know. I hope to do a better job next year of letting you, the theatre fan, know about local productions.
2007 was a terrific year for community theatre - tomorrow we’ll look at what we can expect in the year ahead.
Happy New Year!