The results are in!
The debates are over. The emails have been vetted. The ballots have had their final tally and both parties are pleased with the outcome.
Just to be clear, I am talking about the Best of Theater 2016 list for The Daily Gazette. Fellow Gazette theater reviewer Paul Lamar and I have compiled the following list — in no particular order as they were all equally great.
“Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” — (Albany Civic) The outstanding cast of this Fats Waller revue — with a special shout out to Barbara Howard and her memorable “I Got a Feelin’ I’m Fallin’ ” — nearly scorched the walls of the old theater-in-a-firehouse with all that heat and happy. It was a great night out!
“An American in Paris” — (Proctors Theater) Although critics were not permitted to review the production before its “official” opening in Boston, the week-long tryout of the national tour here in Schenectady was anything but a messy dress rehearsal. Brilliant choreography along with that glorious Gershwin score and Bob Crowley’s artful set designs left audiences (and critics) enraptured. Now that the tour is officially up and running, I think I’m allowed to say that in print.
“Chicago” — (Park Playhouse) Bringing in more than just “a little bit of good” into this oft-performed theatrical war horse, Park Playhouse knocked this show outta the park, staging one of their best shows in recent memory.
“Clybourne Park” — (Schenectady Civic Playhouse) Provocative and timely, this Pulitzer Prize winning play was a thoroughly rewarding production by Playhouse cast and director Christopher Foster.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” — (Proctors) There is nothing quite so satisfying as a good tale well-told. Add in innovative and magnificent design plus wonderful performances and inspired direction, and you have something truly memorable. What is most curious is how this mystery about a young boy, a fractured family, a murdered dog, and a trip to London could be so moving and so resonant to so many. If you missed it, make sure you catch it the next time it is told.
“Love, Loss and What I Wore” — (Curtain Call) Funny, touching, and beautifully performed by five stellar local actresses. Nothing was lost in this encore production, it was still lovely. But I cannot remember just what they wore ….
“Once” — (Proctors) Outlining the plot of this musical — a boy, a girl, a bar, a band — could leave you puzzled how a small story about two opposites falling slowly in love could capture you completely. Not so puzzling — falling in love is a universal tale. At times wistful, at times soulful, and never without heart, “Once” is the real thing. Absolute gold.
“Outside Mullingar” — (Capital Rep) Benefiting from the intimate space, a minimal set, and a quartet of performers who made the language sing, this production of a new Irish comic drama was a veritable winner at The Rep.
“Rapture, Blister, Burn” — (Schenectady Civic) Gina Gianfriddo’s smart modern comedy of gender roles and gender equality was given a fine and strong production to open The Playhouse’s 89th season.