2009 IN THE REARVIEW

Julie Myatt's 'Happy' Premiere and
a 'Noises Off'-Off are highlights

My year's attendance in 2009, admittedly selective and not as frequent as I would wish, managed to put me in front of two productions of Michael Frayns's Noises Off, one of the rare occasions where I had seen the play in a groundbreaking and universally loved Broadway production. I hadn't cared for it much then and South Coast Repertory's production did nothing to change my mind, although it did include a performance by Jenn Lyon that revealed her comic genius.

Then came the production at A Noise Within, and I laughed all the way through. Joint direction by Julia Rodriguez-Elliot and Geoff Elliot was perfect, and with Geoff, cast as the offstage director, proved especially effective.

Theatertimes Rearview Trophy

Despite losing the Noises Off-off, South Coast Repertory did put forth three solid world premieres this year by Richard Greenberg, John Kolvenbeck and Julie Marie Myatt, with the last of these earning our 'Rearview' for best new play.

In the acting areas, Joe Spano is singled out for his role as Will Shakspere in Bill Cain's Equivocation, the one production I was grateful to attend twice during its run at the Geffen Playhouse. Kirsten Kollender gets the nod for the other front-seat Acting 'Rearview,' for her performance in Teresa Rebeck's Mauritius. Jessica Kubzansky gave the suspense play a fine outing, with Ms. Kollender providing, with one minor quibble, a terrific lead performance. In the featured category, Ms. Lyon is caught in the 'Rearview' along with French Stewart. Mr. Stewart is such a solid actor that he repeatedly raises the value of a staging. Here, in both Matthew Modine Saves the Alpaca and Voice Lessons (the latter aided by the supremely gifted Laurie Metcalf), he did just that.

The musical category gets a personal favorite with a personal attachment. I was on hand for the birthing of Octavio Solis - Marcos Loya's birth-of-Jesus parable, La Posada Mágica. In a dozen years it was beautifully produced at South Coast Repertory, and yet, it never worked as well for me as it did here, with many of the old cast and friends, mounting it with less resources at the Odyssey Theatre in West L.A.

These personal citations of appreciation are intended to be made each January for the just-concluded year and are based the opinion of Theatertimes' lone critic. They may salute a landmark production that is seen as historic or simply note an individual achievement, even if it came in an otherwise forgettable production.

PREMIERE: 'THE HAPPY ONES'
by Julie Marie Myatt | South Coast Repertory

REVIVIAL: 'NOISES OFF'
by Michael Frayn | A Noise Within

MUSICAL: 'LA POSADA MAGICA'
Octavio Solis " Marcos Loya | Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

DIRECTOR: ANDREW J. TRAISTER
Waiting for Godot | A Noise Within

FEMALE LEAD: KIRSTEN KOLLENDER
Mauritius | Pasadena Playhouse

MALE LEAD: JOE SPANO
Equivocation | Geffen Playhouse

FEATURED FEMALE: JENN LYON
Noises Off | South Coast Repertory
FEATURED MALE: FRENCH STEWART
Voice Lessons | Zephyr Theatre

SET DESIGN: ROBERT BRILL
Creditors | La Jolla Playhouse

SOUND DESIGN: IAN CARNEY & CORBIN POPP
Darwin: An Adventure for All Ages | Kirk Douglas Theatre

COSTUME DESIGN: DANA REBECCA WOODS
Crowns | Pasadena Playhouse

LIGHTING DESIGN: KURT LANDISMAN
Around the World in 80 Days | Laguna Playhouse

ENSEMBLE: 'OUR MOTHER'S BRIEF AFFAIR'
Matthew Arkin, Arye Gross, Marin Hinkle and Jenny O'Hara / South Coast Repertory

2009 REVIEWS

Around the World in 80 Days / Laguna Playhouse

August: Osage County / Ahmanson Theatre

Creditors / La Jolla Playhouse

Crowns / Pasadena Playhouse

Darwin: An Adventure for All Ages / Kirk Douglas Theatre

Eclipsed / Kirk Douglas Theatre

Ella / Laguna Playhouse

Equivocation / Geffen Playhouse

Farragut North / Geffen Playhouse

Frost/Nixon / Ahmanson Theatre

Goldfish / South Coast Repertory

The Happy Ones / South Coast Repertory

How Theater Failed America / Kirk Douglas Theatre

Ixnay / East West Players

La Posada Mágica / Odyssey Theatre Ensemble


Greg Watanabe and Raphael Sbarge in 'The Happy Ones.' at South Coast Repertory. Photo by Henry DiRocco

THE HAPPY ONES
FAVORITE NEW PLAY
Above, Greg Watanabe and Raphael Sbarge


Lydia / Mark Taper Forum

Matthew Modiine Saves the Alpacas / Geffen Playhouse

Mauritius / Pasadena Playhouse

Moonlight and Magnolias / Laguna Playhouse

The Night is a Child / Pasadena Playhouse

Noises Off / A Noise Within

Noises Off / South Coast Repertory

Our Mother's Brief Affair / South Coast Repertory

Parade / Mark Taper Forum

Pippin / Mark Taper Forum

Richard III / A Noise Within

Sammy / Old Globe Theatre

The Savannah Disputation / Old Globe Theatre

The Seafarer / Geffen Playhouse

Stormy Weather / Pasadena Playhouse

Time Stands Still / Geffen Playhouse

Voice Lessons / Zephyr Theatre

Waiting for Godot / A Noise Within