It’s said that musicals are the bread and butter of community theatre, so here’s a list of the North Bay productions I toasted this past year. Here are my top torn tickets of 2018: Part Two, the Musicals (in alphabetical order):
Always, Patsy Cline… – (Sonoma Arts Live) – Danielle DeBow’s Patsy was as heartbreaking as Karen Pinomaki’s Louise was amusing in director Michael Ross’s labor of love. Excellent costume and set design work (also by Ross) along with outstanding live music accompaniment under the direction of Ellen Patterson made this a memorable evening of musical theatre.
A Chorus Line – (Novato Theater Company) – Few small theatre companies would take the risk of producing a vehicle that requires triple-threat performers in most roles. Director Marilyn Izdebksi’s decades of experience in dance and choreography and terrific casting were key to this production’s success.
Hands on a Hardbody – (Lucky Penny) – The perfect sized musical for the Napa company’s small space, there wasn’t much room for anything else once they got the pickup truck that’s central to the story on stage. Director Taylor Bartolucci and choreographer Staci Arriaga had just enough room for a nice, diverse cast to beautifully tell the atypical story.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change – (Raven Players) – The cavernous Raven Theatre in Healdsburg was converted into a quaint black-box space where director Diane Bailey let loose four talented performers to tell musical stories about the arc of human relationships. It worked really well.
Illyria – (6th Street Playhouse) – Shakespeare. Ugh. A Shakespeare musical? Groan. A really entertaining musical production based on Twelfth Night? Surprising! Director Craig Miller’s swan song was a clever adaptation of the Bard’s comedy that combined excellent vocal talents and the musical direction of Lucas Sherman to produce the best sounding show I’d seen at 6th Street in a long time.
Peter Pan – (Spreckels Theatre Company) – There’s no better stage in the North Bay on which to see a large-scale musical than the Codding stage at Spreckels. Flying around on wires is so much more impressive in a 550-seat theater, and Sarah Wintermeyers’ winsome performance as Peter was good enough for me to set aside my long-standing beef with always casting a female in the role.
Scrooge in Love! – (Lucky Penny) – A fairly new play (this was only its third production) that’s good enough to become a Christmas standard. A great lead performance from Brian Herndon was supported by a top-notch ensemble in this reverential continuation of the Dickens classic.
Photos by Eric Chazankin, Fred Denau, Kurt Gonsalves, Ray Mabry, Jeff Thomas
This article originally appeared in the North Bay Bohemian and Pacific Sun.