Finis to 2010
SN&R’s critics hand out kudos
Here are some of our favorite things about Sacramento’s 2010 theater scene—which was far better than we have space to describe.
“Pant-Pant-Panto” Award: City Theatre’s playwright Christine Nicholson really ought to consider publishing the three British-style panto shows she’s penned over the last three years: Snow White (2008), Peter Pan (2009) and Sleeping Beauty (2010). Each of these shows features an endless stream of breathless jokes and takes considerable liberties sending up classic fairy tales, replete with crazy versions of pop anthems (like an adapted version of the Village People’s “YMCA”). Let’s also give a nod to costumer Nicole Sivell, whose colorful outfits are also a valued part of City Theatre’s emerging panto franchise.
Sorry to See You Go Award: After giving us some of the best local musical theater in recent memory, including shows like Bare, See What I Wanna See, Assassins and Reefer Madness, Artistic Differences drew the final curtain after four years of great work, including some guerrilla marketing tactics that had people dancing in the streets. Fortunately, many of the troupe’s members remain active in local theater; even better, Artistic Differences aptly demonstrated how to do community musical theater productions well while still keeping an edge.
Newest Artistic Director on the Block Award: This one goes to Matt K. Miller of the Sacramento Theatre Company, who took the reins at midyear. Miller directed STC’s first show this season, The Owl and the Pussycat, then starred (as Scrooge) in A Christmas Carol, doing both well. He’s got his work cut out for him—the quality of STC’s shows has become a bit inconsistent in recent years—but our hunch is that repositioning the venerable company with a greater emphasis on staging American classics is a move that will pay off.
Woman About Town Award: She kicked off the year by getting murdered in Crime & Punishment, then quickly moved to Almost, Maine, before hijacking the dinner party from hell in Hunter Gatherers and icing the high-strung cake in Escape From Happiness, then wrapped it all up with It’s a Wonderful Life. We’re talking about Kelley Ogden, and if you haven’t seen the actress with the most expressive face in town, she’ll be in Antigone at KOLT Run Creations in the spring.
Doing Well With a Dark Show: This one is a tie: The Women of Juarez and Beirut, both of which were produced at California Stage. The Women of Juarez was a joint production with Teatro Espejo that examined the life of one of the roughly 400 women who have been murdered or simply disappeared from the border town. Beirut was staged by Mustard Seed Productions; the entire play took place in a cell, where a man has been detained for having a disease not unlike AIDS. Both shows were extremely hard to watch, but also extremely well done—and outstanding artistic work. Extra kudos to Ray Tatar, for his work to provide a local home at California Stage for edgy, political theater.
Best Luck in Your New Digs Award: Having consolidated their reputation as the most interesting of Sacramento’s small professional theaters through notable shows, Capital Stage will be moving to new and more spacious quarters on J Street this spring. The new digs are a former gun store, with thick walls and small windows that make it quite suitable for conversion into a theater performance space. The actors will love the higher ceiling; the old stage on the Delta King has always been cramped in this regard.
Surprising Angels in Roseville: It’s no secret that we love Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. What’s rare is to find a small troupe that takes on the whole shebang and then does it well. But Roseville City Production Dynamics staged both parts last summer (in a children’s art complex at a Roseville park) and did it extremely well. We’d like to send a special angel’s feather for David Garrison, who not only directed but played Prior Walter to perfection, for pulling off such an incredible series of shows. This is a young man to watch.