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Year In Review 2008 | Food | Cinema | Theater | Dance | Art | Books | Classical | Live | Recordings

Best Productions of 2007

Critic: James Yeara

1. West Side Story

Barrington Stage Company

In the 50th Anniversary year of Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece musical, BSC’s production was a smash hit with audiences and critics locally and in Boston. It’s impossible to imagine a more worthy celebration than Barrington Stage Company’s West Side Story. Only someone who doesn’t like theater, doesn’t understand theater, or doesn’t want to be in a theater could fail to be swept up in the excellence of Julianne Boyd’s version of this quintessential American musical.

2. Two-Headed

Berkshire Theatre Festival

Two-Headed is a play for people who appreciate theater and revel in drama that forces you to think as it entertains you—the type of two-headedness that great theater possesses. The play aptly addresses curiosities about what Mormons say they believe in, and what they act on.

3 It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues

Capital Repertory theatre

If you like music, if you like singing, if you like to move in your seat, clap your hands, tap your heels, and just plain feel, Capital Rep’s It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues was for you. Unlike the usual faux musician banter, these singers flirted and got the audience clapping along in rhythm. Even the memory of their version of “Fever” can still keep an audience warm.

4. Rough Crossing

Shakespeare & Company

The cast, under director Kevin G. Coleman’s precise tinkering, kept the pace tight and the comedy moving with flawless timing. As the voyage of the SS Italian Castle pitched from side to side, Rough Crossing kept the audience in stitches

5. Morning’s at Seven

Berkshire theatre Festival

Morning’s at Seven was surprisingly funny, witty, honest, and sweet. A play about four senior-citizen sisters living next door to each other (their eccentricities matched by their husbands’), their 40-year-old son/nephew’s inability to leave home and marry his longtime girlfriend, and the crisis of faith that occurrs over two days, should have been hell on stage to watch. In lesser hands it would be a mess of silly muggings and cloying poses. In the hands of Berkshire Theatre Festival, Morning’s at Seven was a jewel.

6. Take Me Out

Capital Repertory theatre

An Off-Broadway hit and 2003 Tony Award-winning play, Take Me Out had something for everyone, including characters “speaking their truth.” Truth, it turned out, was a many-faceted diamond, hard and cold, that didn’t just cut glass.

7. A Wedding Story


StageWorks/Hudson at its finest. A Wedding Story was a rich chamber piece, full of laughter, profanity, and profundity. The quintet of actors simultaneously filled the stage and shared it. The 90-minute British play, which had its American premiere at StageWorks/Hudson, was surprisingly funny amid the horror of the lead character’s decaying mind and body.

8. Blue/Orange

Shakespeare & Company

Another British hit from 2000, Blue/Orange also mixed medicine and humor—this time to explore race, class, and mental illness. It was the sort of roiling eclectic mix that marks Shakespeare & Company’s excellence both in theatre education and entertainment.

9. The PHysicists

Williamstown theatre Festival

A madcap satirical comedy of ideas, The Physicists was a complicated, nonlinear series of actions and poses resulting in considerable laughter at the speed of farce (times the relative weight of science subservient to government exigencies). Though the play was written in 1961 at the height of Cold War nuclear paranoia, the contemporary exploitation of fears made it as timely as ever, and just as funny.

10. Jamaica Farewell

Woodstock Fringe Festival

A hit at the New York Fringe Festival, Jamaica Farewell is a fascinating story of one woman’s obsession to leave her island homeland and come to the land of the American Dream. Keeping the focus on the acting, the story, and the relationship between actor and audience, Jamaica Farewell is sharp theater for people whose theatrical tastes are adventurous and appetites are broad.


Best Performances of 2007

Critic: James Yeara

1. LeRoy Mclain

Rough Crossing and Blue/Orange, Shakespeare & Company

2. Eileen Schuyler

A Wedding Story, StageWorks/Hudson

3. Oliver Wadsworth

Take Me Out, Capital Repertory Theatre

4. Annette Miller

Martha Mitchell Calling, StageWorks/Hudson

5. Elizabeth Aspenlieder

Rough Crossing, Shakespeare & Company

6. Debra Enrhardt

Jamaica Farewell, Woodstock Fringe Festival

7. Jonathan Croy

Rough Crossing, Shakespeare&Company

8. Diane Presha

Two Headed, Berkshire Theatre Festival

9. Corinna May

Two Headed, Berkshire Theatre Festival

10. Kevin Craig West

Take Me Out, Capital Repertory Theatre


Best Productions of 2007

Critic: Ralph Hammann

1. West Side Story

Barrington Stage Company

As good as it gets. Julianne Boyd found the perfect cast and exploded the confines of her theater’s modest stage with smart sets and Joshua Bergasse’s restaging of Jerome Robbins’ original choreography, which proved why his dances are an integral part of that show. Fingers were snapping cool and hot.

2. Fully Committed

Barrington Stage Company

A solo flight that truly defined “tour de force.” The ridiculously talented Vince Gatton played an out-of-work actor struggling to maintain his cool and his dignity as he juggles a slew of phone reservations (and various other calls) to a chic Manhattan restaurant. With a pace that defied belief, Gatton played both ends of each conversation with an endless range and an energy that left one breathless and awed.

3. Don Juan in Hell

Williamstown Theatre Festival

Absolute heaven for the lucky ones who got to see this very special event. Not only did we have Roger Rees as the Statue and Daniel Gerroll as Don Juan, but the riches overflowed as the incomparable Jim Dale bedeviled and bedazzled us as the chief occupant of the titular place. For topicality and blistering satire relevant to our time, this witty assault by Shaw had no equal.

4. What You Will

Williamstown Theatre Festival

Roger Rees’ delightful, charming and assured stroll through his lifelong relationship with Shakespeare. The very best of this sort of piece, it was also the funniest and warmest evening of the summer. A special event that, along with Don Juan in Hell, should have had a full run.

5. The Physicists

Williamstown Theatre Festival

Roger Rees, Mark Blum and Rob Campbell were superlative in this fizzy treat by Friedrich Dürrenmatt that grew ever more carbonated—and carbolic—as the evening sparkled onward to become theatrical manna for a manic-depressive planet.

6. Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Berkshire Theatre Festival

No eyebrows were raised more archly to Mrs. Warren’s secret profession than those of Xanthe Elbrick as her daughter, a captivating and complicated Shavian feminist, in Shaw’s vibrant attack on hypocrisy. Fresh from her Broadway Tony nomination, Elbrick was elegance, wit and fire.

7. Autumn Garden

Williamstown Theatre festival

A host of superior performances dignified Lillian Hellman’s unjustly neglected masterpiece, which bloomed in rich, vibrant colors to become Roger Rees’ final triumph as artistic director of the WTF.

8. Wing It

Williamstown Theatre Festival

This original musical adaptation of Aristophanes’ The Birds defied gravity and gravitas as the comic Greek was smartly tweaked into relevance by a dynamic cast of young professionals. As good as the free theatre gets—and better then any such offering in recent memory, it was made even more special by Rees’ decision to move it indoors.

9. The World Goes Round

Barrington Stage Company

The musical revue of Kander and Ebb was given royal treatment by a quintet of young performers who sang and danced with enough energy for thrice their number. Bianca Marroquin was incendiary as Chicago’s Velma Kelly and, as terrific as she was throughout, her extended second act duet with Kevin Duda was sublime.

10. Dissonanace

Williamstown Theatre Festival

A beautifully acted comedy about the backstage goings-on in a classical quartet who are unraveling. Insiders could carp about its probabilities, but the dialogue, delivered with acid relish by Daniel Gerroll, was music to my ears.


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