PRODUCTIONS of 2004
During a month when other troupes were doing light fare, Capital
Repertory gave its audiences perfection. Featuring a lead
singer with an old-fashioned aesthetic that songs should be
sung to convey emotions and not simply be a series of notes
to be hit forcefully, this was one of a handful of shows that
I could see again and again and always find new moments to
fall in love with.
& Company, New York State Theater Institute
This nouveau vaudevillian extravaganza was 65 minutes of pure
physical joy, the type of rush that comes when master entertainers
let themselves soar. A deft demonstration of clowning, acrobatics,
and comic mannerisms.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
So good that theater legend James Lapine is directing the
New York City debut of this Berkshire-born audience pleaser.
With music and lyrics by Tony Award-winner William Finn, this
is the little musical that could, a sort of tuneful Spellbound
As You Like It
Shakespeare as it ought to be: full-voiced, funny when it
needed to be, aching when it was called for, intelligent throughout.
This Shakespeare was a sight to behold, a stirring masterpiece
that was a rare conjunction of sights, sounds, and feelings.
You laughed, but there was a melancholy that hung around the
fringes of this comedy.
One of three Equity troupes celebrating 10-year anniversaries,
and doing it with a challenging, witty and bawdy Mamet play
about lesbian madames manipulating their men in Victorian
Brave, controversial theater that shows what StageWorks/Hudson
does best: makes its audiences think and react. A near-relation
to Sartre’s No Exit, Omnium Gatherum alternated
the laughs with stinging criticisms of both Red and Blue states
Vastmanland, New York State Theater Institute
A theatrical stretch that reimagined Shakespeare’s romance
Cymbeline with video screens, tracks, graffiti and
movement out of angst-ridden dreams.
York State Theater Institute
What children’s theater can be (but far too often isn’t):
The performances by a large cast of children avoided mugging
and posturing and were winningly focused and honest.
If you didn’t like this Fats Waller pastiche, you ain’t got
soul. If you could keep your feet still and your mouth shut
while they were singing and dancing, you ain’t got a pulse.
Catherine Taylor-Williams (Vita & Virginia, Shakespeare
2. Jamie Adkins and Ann-Marie Levaseu (Typo!, Cirque
3. Christopher Innvar (Cyrano de Bergerac, Barrington
4. Eileen Schuyler and Robert Ian Mackenzie (Counting the
5. Harry Carnahan and Munson Hicks (The Woman in Black,
Capital Repertory Company)
6. Kirk Jackson and Oliver Wadsworth (Stones in His Pockets,
Adirondack Theatre Festival)
7. Joshua Modney (Fiddler on the Roof, Park Playhouse)
PRODUCTIONS of 2004
Seldom has humanity’s ambivalent embrace of self-extinction
been portrayed on stage with such a rich mix of absurd humor
and understated humanity as in this delectably acted and designed
production of Shaw’s arguable masterpiece.
The Cherry Orchard
The biggest surprise of the season, Chekhov’s rueful farewell
to a passing social order was given a newly defining production
that assuredly brought the classic into the 21st century,
courtesy of Paul Schmidt’s supple translation in which nothing
was lost. Greif gave the former Adams Memorial Theatre and
transitioning WTF its most eloquent eulogy.
Blues for an Alabama Sky
This iridescent production of Pearl Cleage’s remarkable play,
set during the waning of the Harlem Renaissance, celebrated
the human spirit’s tenacity and introduced the area to a vital
playwright and memorable ensemble of actors.
better Buddha: Berkshire Theatre Festival’s Siddhartha.
In his adaptation of Hesse’s novel, Hill combined the inventiveness,
style and passion for which he is known to give audiences
a transcendent journey that enlightened as it entertained.
A true original.
The Miracle Worker
Kate Maguire’s homegrown production beautifully reimagined
and revitalized this small cornerstone of American theater
while giving a duo of young actresses a chance to shine.
Design for Living
Aided enormously by Hugh Landwehr’s stunning set designs,
Boyd’s lovingly mounted production surmounted its shortcomings
to bring Noël Coward’s timely play back to elegant life.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
An odiously self-referential concept devolved into a misbegotten
mess where chaos and shifting examples of bad taste were the
orders of the night. One of the worst productions ever at
the WTF, it relocated Shakespeare’s magic to a plastic-and-
plywood theme park populated by puny excuses for characters.
Jay Parini’s new play was a tract on Sartre’s Being and
Nothingness with an emphasis on the latter. More revolting
than revolutionary, it quickly became a soggy used teabag
of a play.
This dismal, empty and thoroughly forgettable musical was
given a heartless and unnecessary production leavened only
by its dance numbers that cribbed what they could from Bob
Fosse’s excellent original choreography.
The Water’s Edge
Teetering over the edge of sanity, Theresa Rebeck’s new play
was a ludicrous and awkward exercise in trying to write a
contemporary version of Agamemnon in which Kate Burton
pulled out all the stops in an unintentionally funny bathtub
slaughter. The plug should have been pulled on this in the
Michael John LaChiusa’s insubstantial musical adaptation of
Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s stories and Akira Kurosawa’s film left
out more than the “A” in Rashomon.
Led by David Adkins’ inept Alceste, the cast (save one) turned
the music of Moliere and adapter, Richard Wilbur, into a sing-song
monotony in this unexpected misstep at the BTF.
As You Like It
Not as I like it, this overlong trial was only sporadically
saved by Sarah Rafferty; otherwise the Forest of Arden was
bereft of love and arboreal atmosphere.
Cabaret & Main
Squandering one of its four time slots (down from five) on
this hit-and-often-miss show, the WTF began its anniversary
season on a sour note with a bloated talent show masquerading
as a cabaret.
Ritchie Coster (The Cherry Orchard, WTF)
2. Sara Drew (Heartbreak House, BTF)
3. Marin Hinkle (Heartbreak House, BTF)
4. Sarah Rafferty (As You Like It, Shakespeare &
5. Francesca Faridany (Skylight, The Miniature Theatre
6. Darryl Theirse (Blues for an Alabama Sky, BTF)
7. Cherise Booth (Blues for an Alabama Sky, BTF)
8. Reed Birney (The Cherry Orchard, WTF)
9. Tabitha McKown (The Miracle Worker, BTF)
10. Justina Trova (The Miracle Worker, BTF)