For years, Triangle Theater Review has argued that the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area of North Carolina has the liveliest theater scene between Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA. The year 2010 provided further proof, if any was needed, that we have the onstage talent, the backstage genius, and the wherewithal to mount any show available for local production. Moreover, national tours of restricted shows make regular stops in this area, much to the delight of Triangle ticket-buyers.
Two of the highlights of the 2010 Triangle theater season surely included the gala Durham Performing Arts Center presentations of Wicked and Billy Elliot, yet neither of these two blockbuster musicals is numbered among the “Best Productions” of 2010 in Byron Woods’ annual roundup of the best in Triangle theater, published in the Dec. 22nd issue of The Independent Weekly. In fact, there are no traditional musicals at all on Woods’ list, unless you count the musically enhanced rendition of British playwright Peter Shaffer’s 1979 stage play Amadeus, starring Michael Urie as Mozart and Ray Dooley as Salieri, which was jointly presented Dec. 3-5 by PlayMakers Repertory Company and the North Carolina Symphony.
This year, literally hundreds of touring and home-grown productions vied for the theater portion of Triangle residents’ entertainment dollar. What follows is two lists, both in alphabetical order, of 21 shows that made indelible impressions on this reviewer — and it includes more than a few musicals. Wherever possible, I have provided links to the reviews of each show that ran in Triangle Theater Review and then online in either Triangle Arts & Entertainment or Classical Voice of North Carolina. You can find other critics’ reviews in the “Second Opinion” section of the Triangle Arts & Entertainment online reviews.
The Top 10 Touring Productions
Betty Buckley: Broadway by Request (The Carolina Theatre, Nov. 20): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/11/betty-buckley-broadway-by-request-is-a-splendid-showcase-for-a-legendary-diva/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
Billy Elliot the Musical (Durham Performing Arts Center, Oct. 30-Nov. 14): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/11/billy-elliot-the-musical-is-glitzy-and-great-fun/ (review by Susie Potter).
Burn the Floor: Ballroom Reinvented, starring Mark Ballas with Giselle Peacock (Broadway Series South, Nov. 30-Dec. 5 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/12/guest-stars-mark-ballas-and-giselle-peacock-make-burn-the-floor-sizzle/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
A John Waters Christmas (The Carolina Theatre, Dec. 15): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/12/john-waters-serves-up-adults-only-christmas-cheer/ (review by Jesse R. Gephart).
The Merchants of Bollywood (Broadway Series South, Oct. 21 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/11/ab-so-lute-ly-fab-u-lous-merchants-of-bollywood-leaves-broadway-series-south-patrons-eager-for-an-encore/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Aquila Theatre) (N.C. State University Center Stage, Oct. 14 in Stewart Theatre): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/10/the-aquila-theatres-a-midsummer-nights-dream-was-the-stuff-that-dreams-are-made-of/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
Nearly Lear (Susanna Hamnett) (N.C. State University Center Stage, Sept. 25 and 26 in Titmus Theatre): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/09/susanna-hamnett-shines-in-nearly-lear/ (review by Susie Potter).
The Rocky Horror Show (Broadway Series South, Oct. 28-31 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/10/the-rocky-horror-show-roars-into-raleigh/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
Spring Awakening (Durham Performing Arts Center, March 2-7): To read the review by Robert W. McDowell, see Part 1B of our March 4th issue.
Wicked (Durham Performing Arts Center, April 21-May 16): http://cvnc.org/reviews/2010/042010/Wicked.html (review by Robert W. McDowell).
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order by SHOW TITLE): As You Like It (Aquila Theatre Company) (N.C. State University Center Stage, Feb 2 in Stewart Theatre); The Color Purple (Durham Performing Arts Center, May 25-30); Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Durham Performing Arts Center, June 8-13); Faith Healing (Jane Comfort and Company) (N.C. State University Center Stage, Oct. 22 in Stewart Theatre); Margaret Cho’s Cho Dependent Tour (The Carolina Theatre, Nov. 19); Riverdance: Farewell Engagement (Broadway Series South, May 4-9 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium); and Young Frankenstein: The New Mel Brooks Musical (Durham Performing Arts Center, Dec. 7-12).
The Top 10 Home-Grown Productions
Breadcrumbs (Manbites Dog Theater, Oct. 7-23): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/10/marcia-edmundson-and-chaunesti-webb-sparkle-in-manbites-dogs-regional-premiere-of-jennifer-haleys-breadcrumbs/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
Columbinus (Necessary Dialogues Theatre Co., Aug. 12-15 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/08/directed-and-performed-by-youths-aged-17-20-columbinus-delivers-a-powerful-anti-bullying-message/ (review by Susie Potter).
Fences, starring Charlie Robinson (PlayMakers Repertory Company, Oct. 27-Nov. 14 in Paul Green Theatre): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/11/prc-star-charlie-robinson-captures-every-tic-and-twitch-of-troy-maxson-in-fences-by-august-wilson/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
The Full Monty, starring Sally Struthers and Ira David Wood III (North Carolina Theatre, Feb. 27-March 7): http://cvnc.org/reviews/2010/022010/FullMonty.html (review by Robert W. McDowell).
The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, June 30-July 16): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/07/lisa-jolley-canady-vance-thomas-and-jesse-r-gephardt-are-a-scream-in-the-great-american-trailer-park-musical/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
An Ideal Husband (Deep Dish Theater Company, Feb. 12-March 6). To read the review by Robert W. McDowell, see Part 4B1 of our Feb. 11th issue.
The Light in the Piazza (Raleigh Little Theatre, June 4-27): To read the review by Robert W. McDowell, see Part 3B2 of our June 3rd issue.
Shipwrecked! An Entertainment — The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself) (PlayMakers Repertory Company, Dec. 1-19 in Paul Green Theatre): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/12/shipwrecked-an-entertainment-is-a-ripping-yarn/ review by Robert W. McDowell).
Six Degrees of Separation (Ghost & Spice Productions, Oct. 8-23 at Common Ground Theatre): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/10/six-degrees-of-separation-is-sassy-and-smart/ (review by Susie Potter).
St. Nicholas, starring Jerome Davis (Burning Coal Theatre, Nov. 4-21): http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/11/spellbinding-st-nicholas-is-sheer-theatrical-magic/ (review by Robert W. McDowell).
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order by SHOW TITLE): As You Like It (PlayMakers Repertory Company, Sept. 22-Oct. 10); Bug (Raleigh Ensemble Players, Oct. 28-Nov. 20 in REP’s Upstairs Studio at 213 Fayetteville St.); A Christmas Carol, starring Ira David Wood IV as Scrooge (Theatre in the Park, Dec. 3-5 at the Durham Performing Arts Center and Dec. 8-15 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium); Concord, Virginia, starring Peter Neofotis (Theater of the American South, May 14-30 in the Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre at Barton College); Crowns (Burning Coal Theatre Company and Temple Theatre Dec. 2-19 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School and Jan. 28-Feb.6 at Temple Theatre); The Curious Savage (Towne Players, Oct. 8-16 in Garner Historic Auditorium); Dark Play or Stories for Boys (Raleigh Ensemble Players, April 24-25, April 29-May 22 in REP’s Upstairs Studio at 213 Fayetteville St.); Fences (The Justice Theater Project, Feb. 12-28 in Pittman Auditorium at St. Mary’s School); 4.48 Psychosis (Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, Feb. 4-13 at Golden Belt Building Two); Happy Days (PlayMakers Repertory Company, Sept. 8-12 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre); Heroes (2nd Ave. South Players, May 8-23 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School and Nov. 5-20 at Common Ground Theatre); The Importance of Being Earnest (PlayMakers Repertory Company, March 3-21, and Towne Players of Garner, April 16-24); Love and Robots! — A Puppet Rock Opera in Zeros and Ones (Paperhand Puppet Intervention, Feb. 25-March 7 at The ArtsCenter and later at other locations), November, starring Ira David Wood III (Theatre in the Park, June 11-20); Out of the Blue, an original work by Ellen Hemphill, in collaboration with Nor Hall, Jan Chambers, Allison Leyton-Brown, Mark Dendy, Jim Haverkamp, and Jesse Belsky (Archipelago Theatre, Feb. 18-28 in Duke University’s Sheafer Theater); Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (North Carolina Theatre, April 9-18 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium); and To Kill a Mockingbird (Burning Coal Theatre Company, Sept. 9-26).
The Best N.C. Production of 2010
Every year, there are many N.C. theatrical productions that are memorable, but only a few that are truly unforgettable — in a class all their own, combining the best of the best onstage talent and backstage genius. In 2010, the best show that we saw, hands down, appeared this Fall on the Greensboro stage of one of North Carolina’s finest regional theaters. Triad Stage artistic director Preston Lane’s revolutionary reinterpretation of The Glass Menagerie (Sept. 5-26) was a production for the ages. The Greensboro theater’s riveting rendition of Tennessee Williams’ bittersweet, somewhat autobiographical 1944 memory play also made The Independent Weekly’s list of the “Best Productions” of 2010. To read Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts & Entertainment review of The Glass Menagerie, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/09/triad-stage-puts-a-new-spin-on-the-glass-menagerie/.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 22nd Durham, NC Independent Weekly article by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-year-in-triangle-theater/Content?oid=1894270.
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This article is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.