2014 in Review

With the new year nearly upon us, I thought I’d take a look back at the shows I saw in 2014. It’s been a great season for theaters in the Sacramento area, and I can’t wait to see what comes to the stage in 2015!

Best place to catch a play: B Street Theatre and Big Idea Theatre.

It had been a while since I saw anything that wasn’t a musical, and I was thrilled with the quality and content of the plays I saw at both B Street and Big Idea. B Street’s production values are always remarkably high, and Big Idea is right up there with them. Always interesting and always well-produced, I can’t wait to see everything in each of their upcoming seasons.

Best place to see a musical: Music Circus and Green Valley Theatre Company

I love how Music Circus is able to distill a show down to its essence and make it work without grandiose sets – all the while, leaving the audiences feeling like nothing is missing. Green Valley Theatre is in that same vein, finding the real heart of its shows and performing them in a very intimate space.

I find myself still talking about Music Circus’ fantastic production of Mary Poppins, and I am constantly recommending Green Valley whenever people ask which community theater they ought to be attending. I won’t miss out on any of their productions. Also, as a bonus, Green Valley’s VerteFée Cabarets are always excellent!

Best Sets of the Year:
Spring Awakening at Falcon’s Eye Theatre
It was so cool to see the Harris Center’s tech brought to bear on a community production. It gave the show an air of professionalism and polish.
Provenance at B Street Theatre
As someone who loves books, the old library in Provenance really struck a chord with me. The show was a new work that still needed, well, some work. But the stunning set really elevated the production.
The Flying Machine at B Street Theatre
The first family series show at B Street that I saw absolutely blew me away. Everything about it was of extraordinarily high quality, and the set was breathtaking. I can still picture it vividly.
The Rocky Horror Show at Green Valley Theatre Company
This year’s Rocky was circus-themed, and the set was absolutely perfect.

Favorite New-to-Me Shows:
A New Brain at Green Valley Theatre Company
I love this show so much! It’s a great balance of dramatic elements with fantastic music and a good story.
The Language Archive at Big Idea Theatre
I had heard of Julia Cho, but I’d never read or seen any of her works. The Language Archive took my breath away. I loved it so much, I asked for a copy of the script. The use of language in this play borders on poetry, and the story is fantastic.
A Steady Rain at B Street Theatre
Months after seeing this show, I find myself still talking about it. A lot. The play is simple – it’s two cops sitting in a dingy office telling their story – without a lot of action. But the script and its delivery were so good that the audience could picture everything the actors were saying, sometimes in terrifying detail.
Evil Dead the Musical at Sutter Street Theatre
I am way behind the times on this one — Sutter Street has been doing it for years — but this was the first time I made it out to see it, and it was fantastic. Very tongue-in-cheek and self-aware, Sutter Street’s Halloween tradition is one I won’t miss again.

Favorite New Work: Frankenstein by Jes Gonzales at Resurrection Theatre
New works are really difficult, and Resurrection Theatre did a fantastic job with Gonzales’ fresh adaptation of the classic novel. The show came with a great twist ending, and kept me interested the entire way through.

Honorable mention: The Jungle Book at Big Idea Theatre. A well-done show, with a really awesome environmentally-conscious set and puppets.

Favorite New-to-Me Venue:
The Kennedy Mine Amphitheater in Jackson, home of Main Street Theatre Works. Seeing a show there is a beautiful way to spend a summer evening. I’m looking forward to going back this summer.
The 6th Street Playhouse. A very cool place with very high production values.
The Downtown Theatre (formerly Fairfield Center for the Creative Arts), where I saw a Missouri Street Theatre production. A really fantastic performance space.

Noteworthy Performances in Musicals (in no particular order):

Elio Gutierrez as Melchior in Spring Awakening at Falcon’s Eye Theatre
Craig Howard as Gordon Schwinn in A New Brain at Green Valley Theatre
Carly Giroux as Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza at Green Valley Theatre
Jennifer Morrison as Clara Johnson in The Light in the Piazza at Green Valley Theatre
Ryan Aire Blanning as Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Show at Green Valley Theatre
Jacob Montoya as Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show at Green Valley Theatre
Joshua James as Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show at Missouri Street Theatre
Michael RJ Campbell as Gomez in The Addams Family at the 6th Street Playhouse

Noteworthy Performances in Plays (also in no particular order):

Eason Donner as George in The Language Archive at Big Idea Theatre (the rest of the cast was also spectacular!)
Brian Watson as Vincent Van Gogh in Inventing Van Gogh at Big Idea Theatre
Ed Gyles, Jr. as Reneé Bouchard and Paul Gauguin in Inventing Van Gogh at Big Idea Theatre
Brent Randolph as Captain Stanhope in Journey’s End at California Stage
Robin Henson as Lieutenant Osbourne in Journey’s End at California Stage
Steve Buri as Mark Rothko in Red at Ovation Stage
Alex Quinonez as Bagheera in The Jungle Book at Big Idea Theatre

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