Happy New Year!
It’s been interesting, surfing the web today - I see lots of sites bemoaning how bad 2008 was. I guess I’m the eternal optimist - there were certainly some bad things about last year, but there were lots of good things too - you know, just like ever other year in living memory.
So let’s focus on the good and look back at the some of the theatre shows that stood out in the past year. Since this is my personal list of shows I saw and liked, please forgive me if your favorite show isn’t listed - I didn’t get to see every show last year, so there will be some omissions.
Feel free to send me your list of favorites, and I’ll post them here - you can send them via the comments link at the bottom of this post, or you can email them to me at TheMinskers@aol.com
Anyway, here’s my list (in no particular order):
The Marshall University Department of Theatre
continues to be a class act for local theatre productions, including two important productions - The Seagull
in February and The Glass Menagerie
in November. Then it added a terrific musical for good measure with George M!
in October. All terrific productions - you should really make it a point to see all the shows MU
stages each season - they’re outstanding!
I’ve admitted being prejudiced about the production of First Stage Theatre Company
, but I think anyone would have to be impressed by the top caliber of talent on display in the two shows it presented this year. Back in April the group staged the excellent Children of Eden
, an outstanding and moving musical about families and love and forgiveness. It was exceptional!
The other show from that group was the amazing Peter Pan
in November, which included great songs, terrific performances, a stunning set, excellent costumes, and flying actors - who could ask for more? ARTS
has also staged some excellent shows this year, including The Odd Couple
(Female Version) in March, which flipped the genders of the original play (male to female, natch), and it was just as funny - and perhaps funnier - than the original!
Just a month ago ARTS
also presented The 1940s Radio Hour
, an outstanding musical with terrific talent and lots of wonderful songs - if you missed this show, you missed a great one!
I usually don’t include touring professional shows in my list, but two were so good, they deserve inclusion: both The Producers
and The Wizard of Oz
were presented at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center this year as part of the Marshall Artists Series
, and both were amazing.
As long as I’m talking about professional shows, I saw Jersey Boys
in Chicago this year, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite Broadway shows - I recommend it highly!
As proof that a show can be a lot of fun without a huge cast or a flashy production, I really enjoyed the premiere of Bitsy & Boots
in February. It was a comedy written by Jonathan Joy and staged by the First Church Dinner Theater
. Very funny, and the good news is, a sequel is in the works!
If there was an award for courage in theatre, it would go this year to Huntington Outdoor Theatre
for its production of Romeo & Juliet
in July. The classic by Shakespeare
was edited and had modern songs added - some loved it, some did not - but it was a brave thing to attempt, so kudos to HOT
Another original production took on an intense subject, as Scarpelli
created a musical based on the story of Jack the Ripper
in October. The excellent 9and intense0 production featured a terrific cast and excellent songs.
Local theatre doesn’t get much more intense than The Pillowman
, a drama produced by the Charleston Stage Company
in February. Featuring a great cast, including K.C. Bragg
and Ryan Hardiman
(who was also the star of Jack the Ripper
), it kept audiences on the edge of their seats.
Another intense production centered around a series of murders. Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
was presented by the 5th Avenue Theatre Company
at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium in October, and the terrific cast brought the classic murder mystery to life. A excellent production!
So it was a great year in theatre - and again, there were many other excellent shows that I didn’t get to see, and I apologize for any omissions.
So what does 2009
hold in store? That’s what we’ll talk about tomorrow!