2014 was a great year for local theatre in terms of the quantity of quality productions. That said, we feel no compunction to generate a “best of” list for the year. Granted, this journalist can’t name her favorite song on the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” album, so the exercise of trying to name theatrical favorites would be both fruitless and pointless. Rather, we have been reflecting on some of the surprises, happy coincidences and unexpected combinations that added zest to this year’s theatre-going experience.
2014 gave us:
- Two humorous, wonderfully executed contemporary takes on the works of Anton Chekhov that actually made us appreciate the Russian master even more: “Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike” at Tipping Point Theatre and “Stupid F*cking Bird” at The Ringwald.
- Two delightful Lewis Carroll-inspired plays that took the story to places Carroll himself could never have imagined: “The Red King’s Dream” at Tipping Point Theatre and “Ali<e” by nerve.
- Three brilliant productions of plays written or adapted by David Ives: “All in the Timing” at The Hilberry, “Venus in Fur” at Performance Network Theatre, and “The Liar” at Oakland University.
- Three different comedies about actors trying to put on a play: “Moon Over Buffalo” at The Hilberry, “A Play by Franco Vitella” by Magenta Giraffe, and “Home for the Holidays” at Dio.
- Two personal favorites that are rarely performed – bravely produced by two college theatre companies that heroically rose to the occasion: “Under Milkwood” by Dylan Thomas at Oakland University and “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” at The Hilberry.
- Two brilliant cross-gender performances featuring villainous characters we’d love to see pitted in a smack-down: Carla Milarch in the title role of “Richard III” at PNT vs. Joe Bailey as Jocelyn Dunbar in “The Santa Land Diaries & Season’s Greetings” at The Ringwald.
- Two plays we never thought we’d love as much as we did, because of their unlikely heroes: “Falling,” at Meadow Brook Theatre and “Annapurna” at Purple Rose Theatre.
- A wealth of Broadway musicals produced by our hardworking community theatres, including: “Shrek,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “My Fair Lady” at Stagecrafters; “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at St. Dunstan’s; plus “Big” and “Next to Normal” at the Avon Players.
2015 brings us new theatrical experiences and even a few new theatre troupes. Pop the champagne and prepare to enjoy – it’s going to be another stimulating year for fans of Michigan theatre. Happy New Year!