BEST OF BAY AREA LIVE THEATRE 2017 MUSICALS AND PLAYS

December 29, 2017

 THEATRE WORKS SCORES WITH 'FOUR IMMIGRANTS' AND SHOTGUNS 'BLASTED' ARE MY FAVORITE SHOWS FOR 2017  EXCELLENT SEASON IN OUR FIRST DARK TRUMP YEAR

 

 

Composing my “Top Lists of the Year” is not easy since so many outstanding productions are part of the greater Bay Area Theatre in a region with so many wonderful companies - with 300 stages plus in the Bay Area.  And of course I can not get to all of them. Here is my list of Plays,Musicals and Actors - 25 in all for Best of 2017  

 

TOP TEN PLAYS FOR 2017

NUMBER ONE - BLASTED   Shotgun Players Berkeley

BLASTED IS AN HONEST AND BRAVE STORY OF THE HUMAN HEART.

By Sarah Kane, Directed by Jon Tracy

Production team; Nina Ball, Heather Basarab, Miyuki Biertein, Devon Labelle, Christian Larson, Ekena wright and Dave Maier. With Adrienne Walters, Robert Parsons, and Joe Estlack.

 

NUMBER TWO -  THE LIAR -   CenterRep Walnut Creek Ca

 

LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE - ‘THE LIAR’ TURNS DECEPTION INTO ART.

The Center Repertory Company Presents

‘THE LIAR’

By David Ives, Directed by Michael Butler

Choreographed by Cassie Nordgren. Featuring; Monique Hafen*, Jeremy Kahn*, Lyndsy Kail*, Craig Marker*, Joseph Patrick O’Malley*, Sharon Rietkerk*, Teddy Spencer*, and Howard Swain*

NUMBER THREE -  HAND TO GOD  - Berkeley Rep

 

Avenue Q” meets “The Book of Mormon” and “Hamlet”

with a puppet

HAND TO GOD

A NEW AMERICAN PLAY

by Robert Askins

Directed by David Ivers

Featuring Michael Doherty

NUMBER FOUR  HELA TheatreFirst Berkeley Ca

 

HELA’ EXPLORES MODERN MEDICINE AND HUMAN DRAMA WITH HERO HENRIETTA LACKS AT ITS HEART

Theatre FIRST Presents

HeLa

Written by Lauren Gunderson and Geetha Reddy.

Dramaturgy by Lisa Marie Rollins.

Directed by Evren Odcikin.

Featuring JEUNÉE SIMON, DESIREE ROGERS

 

 

NUMBER FIVE - DOG SEES GOD  - Left Coast Theatre Company

 

TEENAGE ANGST AND BONGS BRING THE PEANUTS KIDS TO THE MILLENNIUM

 

DOG SEES GOD Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead

 

By Bert V. Royal, Directed by Chris Maltby

 

Featuring: Isabel Siragusa, Ellen Dunphy, Mikey Connor, Geoffrey Malveaux, Ryan Whitlock, Ryan Engstrom, Valerie Garrahan, Madison Worthington

 

 

NUMBER SIX - THE ENCOUNTER  Curran Theatre  

AN INCREDIBLE ENCOUNTER, MORE CLASSIC THAN AN ORSON WELLES’ RADIO BROADCAST.

The Curran Theatre and Complicite theater company present

‘THE ENCOUNTER’

Directed and performed by Simon McBurney

NUMBER SEVEN -  WATCH THE RHINE Berkeley Rep, Berk Ca

Lillian Hellman’s 1941 Nazi Thriller; Watch on the Rhine is rarely produced
Watch on the Rhine

By Lillian Hellman

Directed by Lisa Peterson

Co-production with the Guthrie Theater

NUMBER EIGHT -  HAMLET- Shotgun Players

Berkeley’s sharp theater company is plays  “Hamlet” roulette.

Hamlet: By William Shakespeare. Directed by Mark Jackson.

With El Beh, Kevin Clarke*, Nick Medina, Cathleen Riddley*, Megan Trout, David Sinaiko, Beth Wilmurt And Caleb Cabrera

NUMBER NINE -  BRO’S  Faultline Theatre

THE BOYS FROM #BROS ARE MILLENNIAL BRATS

Faultline Theatre Presents

#bros

Written by Jake Jeppson

Directed by Rose Oser

With; Megan Wicks, Brennan Pickman-Thoon, Derek Jones, Jonathan Villaluz,

Heren Patel, Ryan Hayes, and Kevin Glass.

NUMBER TEN  ECLIPSED Curran Theatre Sf Ca

‘ECLIPSED’ IS A POWERFUL NEW PLAY THAT BRINGS SELF DIGNITY TO WOMEN WHO FIGHT IN WARS OF BOTH POLITICS AND AND THEIR OWN SURVIVAL

The Public Theatre and Curran Present

‘ECLIPSED’

By Danai Gurira

Directed by Liesl Tommy, Music by Broken Chord

Joniece Abbott-Prat, Akosua Busia, Ayesha Jordan , Adeola Role and

Stacey Sargeant

 

MY PICK FOR TOP TEN MUSICALS FOR 2017 

NUMBER ONE -  FOUR IMMIGRANTS   Theatre Works

PLAYWRIGHT MIN KAHNG HAS A NEW AMERICAN MUSICAL BLOCKBUSTER THEATREWORKS HAS SCORED ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT NEW WORKS OF THE CENTURY

THEATREWORKS SILICON VALLEY PRESENTS

The World Premiere

The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga

Book, Music, & Lyrics by Min Kahng

Based on Manga Yonin Shosei by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama,

Directed by Leslie Martinson

With James Seol, Hansel Tan, Sean Fenton, Phil Wong, Rinabeth Apostol, Kerry Keiko Carnahan, Catherine Gloria, and Lindsay Hirata.

NUMBER TWO - FUN HOME  Curran Theatre -

CARTOONIST ALISON BECHDEL’S GRAPHIC NOVEL IS A BOLD MUSICAL.

The Curran and

Carole Shorenstein Hays Presents

The Public Theater production of

FUN HOME

Music by Jeanine Tesori Book by Lisa Kron

Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel

NUMBER THREE -  END OF THE RAINBOW  OMG Theatre

JANELLE LUTZ COMMANDS THE STAGE AND GIVES A TOUR DE FORCE PERFORMANCE AS JUDY GARLAND. I WAS INFORMED THAT THIS IS A PLAY WITH MUSIC AND NOT OFFICIALLY A MUSICAL, BUT I WILL KEEP IT THIS SPOT.
 

OMG, I Love That Show!” Productions Presents

End of the Rainbow

Judy's back!

Written by Peter Quilter, Directed by Jenn BeVard

Music Director Brian Allan Hobbs

Featuring  

JANELLE LUTZ  (I also named Lutz's best actor)

NUMBER FOUR-  42nd STREET  - Bay Area Musicals SF

THE WALL TO WALL DANCING AND THE INFECTIOUS SONGS MADE THIS A MUST SEE HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE

Bay Area Musicals Presents

42ND STREET

Music by Harry Warren

Lyrics by Al Dubin

Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble

Directed by Daren A.C. Carollo

Choreography by Matthew McCoy, Musical Direction by Jon Gallo

NUMBER FIVE -  MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET  CenterRep Walnut Creek      

A FOOT STOMPING TRIUMPH ROCK’S THE EAST BAY PREMIERE OF ‘MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET IMMORTALIZES ROCK N ROLL HISTORY

CENTER REPERTORY COMPANY PRESENTS

‘MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET’

Book by Colin Escott, Music by Floyd Mutrux

Inspired by Elvis, Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Perkins

Directed by Hunter Foster, Music Director John Michael Presney

With; John Michael Presney* as Carl Perkins, Michael Ray Wisely* as Sam Phillips,

Brittany Danielle* as Dyanne, Trent Rowland* as Elvis Presley, and  Sky Seals* as Johnny Cash

NUMBER SIX - AIN’T TO PROUD  Berkeley Rep

Ain’t Too Proud, an electrifying new musical about the life and times of The Temptations. This was a must-see experience.

Berkeley Repertory Theatre Presents

AIN’T TOO PROUD THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS’

By Dominique Morisseau, Directed by Des McAnuff

NUMBER SEVEN -  HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME  HillBarn Theatre

QUASIMODO AND ESMERALDA PROVE THAT ‘SOMEDAY LIFE COULD BE KINDER’ THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME IS LUSH AND GLORIOUS

Hillbarn Theatre Presents

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME

Music by Alan Menken and Lyrics Stephen Schwartz, book by Peter Parnell

Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature

Directed by Riley Costello, Music director Matt Bourne

Choreographed by Jeanne Batacan-Harper

NUMBER EIGHT -  HEATHERS BareStage Berkeley Ca

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL DONE THE CORRECT WAY - I WANT TO BE A “HEATHER”

BARESTAGE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS

Heathers: The Musical

Book and Music by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy

Directed by Elizabeth Maths

Choreographer Joe Aryes, Music Director Jennifer Huang

Produced by Claire Pearson, Production Manager Kacey Mayeda

NUMBER NINE -  JANIS JOPLIN  ACT SF

A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN IS A CELEBRATION OF THE LEGEND’S MUSIC

AND PASSION FOR THE BLUES

The American Conservatory Theatre Presents

‘A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN’

Created, Written and Directed by Randy Johnson, Music Director Todd Olson

Featuring Kacee Clanton as Joplin

NUMBER TEN - ALTER BOYZ  CenterRep Walnut Creek Ca

BOY BANDS ARE SPOOFED IN THIS TUNEFUL, HILARIOUS RELIGIOUS ROMP, KEITH PINTO’S DANCE AND DIRECTION IS SIZZLING

Center REPertory Company Presents

ALTAR BOYZ

By Kevin Del Aguila, Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker,

Directed and Choreographed by Keith Pinto

Music Director Ben Prince

With Josh Ditto, William Hoshida, Sean Okuniewicz, Justin Sabino and Tyce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musicals I want to mention or shout too:

PRISCILLA at Rhino Theatre SF

NEWSIES at Children's Musical Theatre  San Jose

CABARET at HillBarn Theatre Foster City  Ca

NEXT TO NORMAL - Broadway By The BAY

 

 

 

BEST ACTORS/ PLAY AND MUSICALS

EDWARD HIGHTOWER  42nd Street/ South Pacific

DC SCARPELLI   Song of the Nightingale /42nd Street

ALLISON RICH  Fool For Love/ Toxic Avenger

JANELLE LUTZ  End of Rainbow

NIKITA BURSHTEYN  UrinTown/ 42nd Street / LaCage

SEAN OKUNIEWICZNIKITA   Newsies/ Hand To God/ Next To Normal

AND ASHLEY COWL   Evita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EDWARD HIGHTOWER

 

 

DC SCARPELLI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niki Burshteyn

URINTOWN

 

 

 

 

BEST DIRECTOR MUSICAL

Daren AC Carollo for 42nd Street

 

BEST DIRECTOR FOR A PLAY

Jon Tracy  for Blasted

 

  Jon Tracy - Blasted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daren Carollo and his son 

Overall standout for 2017 the amazing 

Writer Director Min Kahng

 

 

I do need to mention HAM.

The blockbuster did open the 2017 Season.

 

I saw the musical two times, once as a lucky lottery winner in the second row.  Yes I loved the event and wonderful cast and production, but I did not review this - I wasn't invited to that honor.

 

So for this reason it remains off my Top 10 List.  When the Kids return in 2019, I will cover the show and hope the Tickets are more reasonable for all of us to see this Musical.

 

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