This was a great year for theater, with so much good work that I usually couldn’t name a “best.” I give my lists in alphabetical order unless otherwise noted.
Musicals were particularly good, so let’s start there.
The big winner in new musicals was The Old Globe/Hartford Stage co-production of “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder,” now wowing ‘em on Broadway, and directed by Old Globe favorite Darko Tresnjak.
“The Last Goodbye,” the new musical most likely (according to me) to move to Broadway, was also at the Old Globe. This brilliantly staged “Romeo and Juliet” for the rock music crowd is likely to attract young audiences to the classic story.
And Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s terrific musical adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” [middle left photo] was particularly excellent this year.
But there were also fine productions of “In The Heights” [top left photo] at San Diego Repertory, “Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein” [bottom left photo] at Moonlight Stage Productions and “Assassins” at Cygnet, and terrific revivals of old standards “Chicago” (at both San Diego Musical Theatre and Welk Resorts Theatre) and “South Pacific” at Moonlight.
I count nine dramatic plays as favorites of 2013 (I told you it was a good year):
“Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo” at ion
“The Bluest Eye,” a co-production between Mo’olelo and Moxie
“The Brothers Size” at the Old Globe
“Extraordinary Chambers” at Mo’olelo
“Oleanna” at Intrepid Shakespeare Company
“Pygmalion” at The Old Globe
“The Trip To Bountiful” at New Village Arts
“Venus In Fur” at San Diego Repertory
“Wit” at Lamb’s Players
The comedy category was almost as good. I loved all of these:
“Birds Of A Feather” at Diversionary
“The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” at ion
“The Importance Of Being Earnest” at Cygnet
“Lettice And Lovage” at Scripps Ranch
“The Odd Couple” at North Coast Repertory
“One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” at New Village Arts
“Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead” at The Old Globe
Beat One-man Plays
Three actors deserve special mention for their work in terrific one-man plays.
Herbert Siguenza, who wrote and performed “A Weekend With Pablo Picasso” at San Diego Repertory, not only captivated as the 20th century genius, but demonstrated that he can paint like the master.
Daniel Beaty played Paul Robeson in “The Tallest Tree In The Forest” at La Jolla Playhouse in a riveting portrait of this son of a runaway slave who became an international star and political activist.
Jean-Michel Richard portrayed artist Vincent Van Gogh’s brother Theo in “Vincent,” a thoroughly engaging piece at North Coast Repertory.
Jeffrey Jones in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” at New Village Arts
Steven Lone in “The Elaborate Entrance Of Chad Deity” at ion
Claudio Raygoza in both “Shining City” and “Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo” at ion
Don Sparks as Mr. Doolittle in “Pygmalion” at The Old Globe
Best Actor in a Musical
Randall Dodge in both “Chicago” and “South Pacific” at the Welk
Phil Johnson in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Musical” at Intrepid
Jefferson Mays in “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder” at The Old Globe
Jai Rodriguez in “In The Heights” at San Diego Repertory
Caroline Kinsolving in “Venus In Fur” at San Diego Repertory
Deborah Gilmour Smyth in “Wit” at Lamb’s Players
Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson in “The Trip To Bountiful” at New Village Arts
Best Actress in a Musical
Eileen Bowman in “Pete ’n’ Keely” at Lamb’s Players
Susan Denaker in “In The Heights” at San Diego Repertory
Allison Spratt Pearce in “The Sound Of Music” at San Diego Musical Theatre
Best Director of a Play
Tea Alagic, “The Brothers Size” at The Old Globe
Claudio Raygoza, “Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo” at ion
Robert Smyth, “Wit” at Lamb’s Players
Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, “The Bluest Eye,” Moxie/Mo’olelo
Seema Sueko, “Extraordinary Chambers” at Mo’olelo
Sam Woodhouse and Kim Rubinstein, “Venus In Fur” at San Diego Repertory
Best Director of a Musical
There’s a clear winner here: Darko Tresnjak, for “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder” at The Old Globe.
Also excellent were Randall Hickman for “Monty Python’s Spamalot” at Welk Resorts Theatre, Ray Limon for “Chicago” at Welk and Sam Woodhouse for “In The Heights” at San Diego Repertory.
Best Scenic Design
Again, a clear winner: Alexander Dodge, for “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder” (he also designed two other splendid sets) at The Old Globe.
But I also really liked David F. Weiner’s set for Mo’olelo’s “Extraordinary Chambers” and Robert Brill’s design for “His Girl Friday” at La Jolla Playhouse.
Best Costume Design
Linda Cho, for “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder” at The Old Globe
Jeannie Galioto, for “Birds Of A Feather” at Diversionary Theatre
Erick Sundquist, for “Grey Gardens” at ion
Paul Tazewell, for “Side Show” at La Jolla Playhouse
Best Projection Design
John Narum, for “The Tallest Tree In The Forest” at La Jolla Playhouse
Victoria Petrovich, for “A Weekend With Pablo Picasso” at San Diego Repertory
Aaron Rhynne and Philip S. Rosenberg, for “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder”
Marc Anthony Thompson, for “The Mountaintop” at San Diego Repertory
Best Sound Design
Joseph Huppert, for “Extraordinary Chambers” at Mo’olelo Performing Arts
Chris Luessmann, for “The Wizard Of Oz” at Moonlight
Jon Lorenz, for “Wit” at Lamb’s Players
Best Lighting Design
York Kennedy, for “Other Desert Cities,” The Old Globe
Christopher Loren Renda, for “The Trip To Bountiful” at New Village Arts
Philip S. Rosenberg, for “A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder” at the Old Globe
Justin Townsend, for “The Last Goodbye” at The Old Globe
Best Special Event
Locally, La Jolla Playhouse started the ball rolling with the newest thing in theater: site-specific plays presented anywhere but in a theater. This year the Playhouse presented the audience-participation show “Accomplice: San Diego” in Little Italy and a large WOW (Without Walls) Festival that included “Seafoam Sleepwalk,” a piece with a giant puppet by puppeteer Basil Twist on at La Jolla Shores beach and an Ibsen-like piece called “Hedda’ing” at the off-kilter Fallen Star sculpture at Jacobs Hall on the UCSD campus.
CircleCircledotdot got in on the action this year with an amusing “San Diego, I Love You,” centered in Hillcrest.
Last – but certainly not least – a shoutout to Kevin Charles Patterson and the organizers of San Diego’s first Fringe Festival. Long may it continue.
To read reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.