Musicals of all stripes and sizes, superb design effects and a strong array of contemporary dramas marked 2013 in Seattle theater.
Taking a glance back at scores of productions from several dozen theaters, it is not difficult to pick out highlights and trends for our annual Seattle Times Footlight Awards honoring theatrical excellence (with a few cavils).
New and vintage musicals, from mock-horror tuners to family shows to superior revivals and tours of innovative Broadway material, are making the Puget Sound region a genuine mecca for shows that sing and dance. In addition to classy output from 5th Avenue, Village and Paramount theatres, Balagan Theatre, Taproot Theatre and younger troupes like Sound Theatre Company put up impressive tuners.
Another blessing: the top-drawer lighting, scenic, sound and costume designers in our region, working their sophisticated stagecraft in venues large and tiny. Let us not take these wizards for granted.
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While it wasn’t a banner year for world-premiere plays, the theaters intelligently tackled bracing scripts new to Seattle, about such concerns as domestic terrorism, the apocalyptic absurdity of the U.S. war in Iraq and feminism 3.0.
And, as expected, there were many performances to admire, from our pool of veteran thespians and some ingratiating newcomers.
Here then, with names in each category listed in no particular order, are The Seattle Times Footlight Awards for 2013 theater, chosen by myself and Seattle Times freelance theater critics.
Drum roll, please:
Top Mainstage Plays: “Good People,” “Photograph 51” and The “Hound of the Baskervilles” (Seattle Repertory Theatre); “Trouble in Mind” (Intiman Theatre Festival); “The Financial Lives of the Poets” (Book-It Repertory Theatre); “Other Desert Cities” (ACT Theatre); “The Whipping Man” (Taproot Theatre); “Broke-ology” and “The Language Archive” (Seattle Public Theater); “The Walworth Farce” (New Century Theatre/New City Theater).
Top Fringe Plays: “reWilding” (Satori Group); “Soft Click of a Switch” (MAP Theatre); “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg” (Thalia’s Umbrella); and“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” (Washington Ensemble Theatre)
Top Mainstage Musicals: “The Pirates of Penzance” and “Oliver!” (5th Avenue Theatre); “Les Miserables” and “Chicago” (Village Theatre); “Illyria” (Taproot)
Top Fringe Musicals: “The Wild Party” (Sound Theatre Company); “Avenue Q” and “Les Miserables” (Balagan Theatre)
Best New Musicals: “Stu for Silverton” (Intiman) and (the reworked) “James and the Giant Peach” (Seattle Children’s Theatre)
Kafka Can-Do: “The Understudy” (Seattle Public Theater) and “The Trial” (New Century)
Best New Holiday Show: “Holiday of Errors (or Much Ado About Stockings)” (Sound Theatre and One Lump or Two)
Children’s Delight: “Pippi Longstocking” (Seattle Children’s Theatre)
Great Performances (Plays): Steven Epp and Allen Gilmore (“The Servant of Two Masters,” Seattle Rep); G. Valmont Thomas (“Trouble in Mind” Intiman; and “Master Harold and the Boys” at West of Lenin); Evan Whitfield (“Financial Lives of the Poets”); Pamela Reed (“Other Desert Cities”); Ellen McLaughlin (“Good People”); Kirsten Potter (“Rapture, Blister, Burn” at ACT, and “Photograph 51,” Seattle Rep); Paul Stuart (“Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Seattle Shakespeare); Mary Ewald (“Homebody,” New City); Emily Chisholm and Sean Griffin (“Sugar Daddies,” ACT); Amanda Zarr and Richard Nguyen Sloniker (“Gruesome Playground Injuries,” Azeotrope); Vincent Brady (“King Lear,” GreenStage) and Jennifer Lee Taylor (“Much Ado About Nothing,” Seattle Shakes)
Acting Honors: “The Walworth Farce” and “The Trial” (both New Century Theatre); and “The Whipping Man” (Taproot)
Great Performances (Musicals): Tori Spero (“The Wild Party,” Sound Theatre Company); Brandon O’Neill (“The Pirates of Penzance,” 5th Avenue); Don Darryl Rivera and Randy Scholz (“Illyria,” Taproot); Louis Hobson (“Les Miserables,” Balagan); Patti Cohenour and Suzy Hunt (“Grey Gardens,” ACT/5th Avenue); Noah Racey (“The Music Man,” 5th Avenue); Josephine Howell (‘Hello Darlin’s,” Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute); Chelsea LeValley (“Floyd Collins,” STAGEright); Richard Gray and Shaunyce Omar (“Chicago,” Village); Mark Anders and Bobbi Kotula (“Stu for Silverton,” Intiman); Molli Corcoran (“Pippi Longstocking,” Seattle Children’s)
Hardest-working Guy in Seattle Theater: Versatile Mike Dooly impressed with compelling turns in “The Language Archive” and “The Understudy” (Seattle Public);“Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” (WET); “The Tempest” and “Love’s Labour’s Lost” (Seattle Shakespeare)
Hardest-working Guy in Heels in Seattle/New York Show Biz: Drag actor extraordinaire Jerick Hoffer/Jinkx Monsoon (in “Hairspray” at 5th Avenue, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at Moore Theatre, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on TV and a slew of other shows here and in the Big Apple)
Fresh Faces, Rosy Futures: Splendid young players Hannah Mootz (“Bo-Nita,” Seattle Rep) and Jocelyn Maher (“She’s Come Undone,” Book-It).
Dazzling Designs: Too many to list, but set, lights and costume standouts include L.B. Morse (“Hound of the Baskervilles”); Jennifer Lupton (“Pippi Longstocking”): Carey Wong (“Boeing, Boeing” at Seattle Rep; “James and the Giant Peach” at Seattle Children’s); Andrea Bryn Bush and Deane Middleton (“Love’s Labour’s Lost,” Seattle Shakes); Craig Wollam (“Much Ado About Nothing,” Seattle Shakes); Tom Sturge (”Oliver!,” 5th Avenue); Sarah Burch Gordon (“The Matchmaker” and “Illyria,” Taproot); Louise Dilenge (Teatro ZinZanni)
Great Sound on the Sound: Kudos to sound designer/composers Evan Mosher, Paul James Prendergast, Robertson Witmer and Michael Brockman for top-notch work in various shows.
Terrific Tours: Seattle Theatre Group brought in a bunch of ‘em: “War Horse,” “Black Watch,” “Fela!” and “Peter and the Starcatcher.”
Esteemed Visitors: Playwright-director Alan Ayckbourn (ACT); Argentina’s Lola Arias company and South Africa’s Gregory Maqoma (both On the Boards)
Promising Developments: Capitol Hill’s new 12th Avenue Arts complex; Theater Schmeater’s future Belltown digs; Taproot Theatre’s just-opened Kendall Center.
Not Grand Enough Guignol: “Carrie” (Balagan)
Best Title/Best Slasher Musical: The mock-horror hit “ThanksKilling” (Balagan)
Best Song Parody: “Crown Yourself a Bloody Little Christmas” (“Holiday of Errors”)
What? No Big Cat? Lion-less musical “Secondhand Lions” (5th Avenue)
Smells Like Good Rockin’, Bad Script: The Seattle women-in-rock musical, “These Streets.”
The Dish on Paul Ryan’s Favorite Right-Wing Novelist: Mike Daisey’s slyly hilarious bio-logue about Ayn Rand.
Best Dinner Theater Sweet: Cafe Nordo’s rhubarb pandowdy in a tiny cast-iron skillet.
Hiking Uphill: The new musical “Trails” (Village Theatre)
Biggest Gross-outs: A tie between the overused prop phalluses in Intiman’s tiresomely raunchy “Lysistrata,” and the cat-littered Bouvier-Beale abode in ACT’s “Grey Gardens.”
RIP and a Fond Farewell: Actors Clayton Corzatte, John Wesley Rice, Christopher Evan Welch and Julie Harris; author-director-UW professor Herbert Blau; film and occasional theater critic Jeff Shannon; poet-playwright Seamus Heaney.
Misha Berson: email@example.com