That’s a wrap!
And what a year it was
As we close out 2002, here are some parting awards and observations:
Best Actor (Regional): Jack Lynn. He only took one role last year—in The Heiress at the Woodland Opera House—but it was a doozy. Lynn has upwards of 50 years onstage in this country and England, and it’s always a treat when he takes a part locally.
Best Visiting Actress (Professional): Julia Brothers. Talk about range: Brothers went from a murderous Irish daughter in The Beauty Queen of Leenane to a nurturing, nudist earth mother in Off the Map.
Biggest Move Up: actress Stephanie Gularte. She turned professional in 2001 and won roles in Sacramento, San Jose, Marin and Berkeley. She also upgraded the shows at the Delta King Theatre (where she’s artistic director), by bringing in Equity actors.
Most Significant Retirement: Leland Ball, sustainer of the Music Circus and builder of the Broadway Series. He stepped down in August.
Best Change of Direction: We don’t know what came over the B Street Theatre’s Buck Busfield, but we like it. After relying on lightweight comedies for several seasons, Busfield programmed more challenging scripts this year, including Last Train to Nibroc and the current Copenhagen. And, miracle of miracles, the B Street’s subscriber list grew.
Best Local Show: A tie between Frank Condon’s brilliantly directed (and perfectly timed) Gulf War drama Gunfighter at River Stage, and the B Street’s laudable Copenhagen.
Longest-delayed Gratification: The B Street Theatre for the opening of the new “B-2” studio space. The people at B Street have been talking about this project for years, and it almost didn’t happen—a temporary city permit allowing the theater to open was issued barely four hours before Jack Gallagher’s Just the Guy was to premiere. But B Street pulled it off.
Most Deserved Facelift: The makeover in progress at the facilities on H Street shared by the Sacramento Theatre Company and the Music Circus. The project involves an overdue renovation of STC’s aging facilities and construction of a permanent (and air-conditioned!) tent for Music Circus. It will benefit both companies and the community.
Most Ballyhooed Story of 2002: Unquestionably, the opening of the Mondavi Center at UC Davis. But it’s a gorgeous building, even if the hype got out of hand.
Most Interesting Story Never Told: The behind-the-scenes spat when the Mondavi Center booked Broadway-style shows like Rent. You didn’t need a crystal ball to figure out that the folks at the Broadway Series—previously the sole presenters of touring Broadway shows in this market—were not amused. Rumor has it that Mayor Heather Fargo got involved. The upshot: Both sides are making nice, but you probably won’t see many Broadway shows at the Mondavi Center next season.
Most Encouraging Trend: People are going to the theater. STC, Foothill Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Delta King Theatre and River Stage all had shows playing to capacity audiences in November and December.