Happy New Year! I’ve slowly re-introduced myself back into the world of work and now after some adjustment (okay, a lot) I’m ready to get on with 2012. But, before I do that, I will take a look back to 2011. Every year since I started this blog I’ve written a summary of the shows that made an impact on me. It is a personal list. I obviously don’t see everything in this city (I’m no Lois Dawson) so my top theatre moments of 2011 are in no way definitive. I say this also because I’ve now had a chance to see what’s on everyone else’s “Top of 2011 list” and I can’t help but notice that mine are a little different than most but they’re mine nevertheless. So here we go (in no particular order):
Death of A Salesman at the Vancouver Playhouse – This was in my opinion by far one of the best production I saw last year from the large theatres in Vancouver. Tom McBeath’s performance as Willy Loman was incredible. And, the rest of the cast from Donna Belleville to Bob Frazer to Kevin James to the rest of the supporting cast were all equally as great. To leave the theatre feeling as though every actor on stage was performing to 110% of their capabilities is a rare and wonderful thing.
Jake’s Gift produced by Juno Productions at Pacific Theatre – I know I am slightly behind the times here because Jake’s Gift has been touring the country since 2007 but this was absolutely, without a doubt, a highlight of my theatre-going year. Julia Mackey’s one-woman performance about WWII and the 60th Anniversary of D-Day was astounding. It is very rare for me to be so moved by a performance that I find myself wiping away tears at the end. She made me laugh and broke my heart all at the same time.
Re:Union at Pacific Theatre co-production with Horseshoes & Handgrenades – Where do I even begin?! The script?! The acting?! The seamless integration of technology into the story and the design?! This was Sean Devine’s first play. I can’t even begin to fathom the amount of research and dedication that went into writing this play. Incredible. All 3 actors were phenomenal but I was particularly astounded by Andrew Wheeler and Evan Frayne (who once again demonstrated why he won the Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer at this year’s Jessie’s). Speaking of rare things, it is extremely rare to find technology, story and design so well integrated. Often the story will be sacrificed in the pursuit of new and interesting ways to integrate technology into theatrical productions but it makes me incredibly happy to see a production where both can be accomplished. And, accomplished well. Beyond well. Brilliantly, actually.
The Penelopiad at The Arts Club – I love going to the theatre and seeing a production that could never be anything else but theatre. This show was by every definition “theatrical”. The design, the direction, the music… This is why I go to the theatre. Meg Roe absolutely never fails to blow my mind. She was once again outstanding as Penelope, wife of Odysseus. Her quiet grace is mind-boggling. I could watch her read the dictionary. No joke. Add to that, the rest of the 11 amazing women who rounded out this cast. More rarities – it is without a doubt an incredibly rare thing to see a play written by a woman, directed by a woman with an all female cast of 12. Amazing.
Jesus Hopped the ‘A” Train produced by Glass City Theatre at Pacific Theatre – Ok, so normally I don’t even think to include shows that I have personally worked on. I just feel as though I have a certain bias or can’t be objective or something; however, this year I’m going to break my rule and include this production. Because clearly I’m not the only the one who thinks this was one of the best production last year since Gayvancouver.net recently made it their #1 pick for 2011 and back in June it won the Jessie for Outstanding Production. It was absolutely by far one of the best production I saw in Vancouver this year if not in the last couple of years. And, it just so happens that it was also my honour and priviledge to have worked with all the crazy talented people on this production including Rob Olguin (who won the Jessie for Outstanding Performance by a Actor in a Lead Role), Carl Kennedy (who was nominated for the Jessie for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role), Evan Frayne (who I already mentioned won the Sam Payne Award for Most Promising Newcomer), Andrew McNee, Kerri Norris, Itai Erdal (who won the Jessie for Outstanding Lighting Design) and last-but-absolutely-and-certainly-not-least Angela Konrad (who was nominated for Outstanding Direction).
And, there you have it folks. The Top 5 theatre experiences that made the most impact on me. It was a great year. And, we are so blessed to have such great artists and theatre in this city. I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us!!