2021 was supposed to be the year that live theatre came roaring back, and it did… for a while. By the end of the year, that roar had been replaced by a hacking cough symptomatic of exposure to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Theatres once again began to cancel or postpone performances as casts and crews (and audiences) found themselves laid up.
It’s too early to tell what impact the latest chapter in our pandemic saga will have on the overall health of the performing arts community, but recognition is due to the companies and artists who made the effort to engage with live audiences while they could.
Here are my “Top Torn Tickets” for 2021, a recognition of the best and/or most interesting stage work done over another truncated theatre season in the North Bay:
Patty from HR: A Zoom with a View – Main Stage West – Anyone who suffered through an insipid Zoom meeting in the last two years would appreciate what performer Michael Phillis did with his character of Patty, the technologically-incompetent leader of the worst Zoom meeting imaginable.
Galatea – Spreckels Theatre Company – Science fiction is rarely presented on the stage. One of the questions raised by this very interesting original work by David Templeton is “Why is that?”
Cry It Out – Cinnabar Theater – Playwright Molly Smith Metzler’s excellently performed bittersweet comedy about modern-day motherhood showed us that the pedestal upon which we place that position is often laid on a foundation of quicksand.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid – Lucky Penny Productions – Director Scottie Woodard brought some very clever solutions to the challenges inherent in presenting a large-scale musical in a small space in the time of COVID.
The God of Hell & The Beard of Avon – Cloverdale Performing Arts Center – Credit the folks in Cloverdale for presenting some very off-the-wall works and doing them well.
Vincent – 6th Street Playhouse – ‘Solo shows’ were proven to be an efficient and exposure-minimizing way to present live theatre. Actor Jean-Michel Richaud has been touring with this production for several years now but his presentation was fresh and riveting.
How to Transcend a Happy Marriage – Left Edge Theatre – This Sarah Ruhl-penned show had everything – laugh-out-loud comedy, drama, social commentary, deer hunting, an orgy. It just could have done without the egg-laying human/bird.
Georgiana & Kitty: Christmas at Pemberley – Marin Theatre Company – The book was closed on playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Malcon’s imaginative continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice with this third holiday-themed trip to Pemberley. Or was it?
May the curtain continue to rise for us all in 2022.
This article originally appeared in an edited version in the North Bay Bohemian and Pacific Sun.