Best of 2005
Sexiest Male Lead (Breeches Division) Peter Greenberg as Sir Tristram in "The Talisman Ring"
Sometimes being unbelievably sexy isn't about good hair, a winning smile and a dimpled chin. Sometimes being sexy involves making dour remarks while shooting the flames off candles and never moving your face at all. The determinedly unromantic Tristram makes a flat first impression, but after he saved the day via brilliant swordfighting, quick thinking and a few rolls of the eye, I was ready to faint into his competent arms. Er, the Regency-era men's clothing didn't hurt either.
Sexiest Male Lead (Guitars Division) Nathan Allan as Sorrow in "Curse of the Crying Heart"
A lover and a fighter, a rock star and a samurai, Sorrow has the heart of a lost little boy and the chiseled face of the best looking guy in your junior high. I think Princess Sakura nailed it when she said something like "You play the GUITAR. You wear a MASK." I mean really, what else could a woman want?
Sexiest Male Lead (Portable Division) Cesare in "The Cabinet"
This foot-tall puppet is basically Johnny Depp in paper mache. Think! You could take him anywhere! He's got stellar cheekbones, that whole goth-chic thing, and the quavering, tormented voice of Colm O'Reilly. Hot. Just hot.
Sexiest Female Lead
Wait. What? I'm sorry, I was distracted, let's move on.
Best Night of Pure Entertainment (Vaudeville Division) Lavender
Cabaret for "Tribute to the Eighties."
I've enjoyed several Lav Cab shows since, but something about Eighties Night was just magic. Was it the cocaine-and-sugar aesthetic of the period tunesmiths? Was it the wearing of knee socks, and the ripping off of wifebeaters? Was it the Sugarbabies' perennial good humor, sense of fun, and god-given hotness? Oh no, my friends, it was all of that, plus two gin and tonics.
Best Cock Block: Springloaded Theatre for "The Monkey House."
Springloaded's feisty little adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut stories nearly charmed my pants off. And their staging of "Long Walk to Forever" almost earned Brennan Buhl an award for Sexiest Male Lead (Nervous Tics Division). But they had to follow it up with "The Monkey House," which can only be described as pro-rape, and squicky with it. Way to go, Springloaded. Way to make heterosexual women feel gross, and heterosexual men feel guilty. Now, how is anyone supposed to get any action? (Except gay people.)
The Ibsen Award For Best Last Ten Minutes: Mabou Mines for "Dollhouse."
At the dispirting intermission for this show, my friend Laura made a prediction: "I bet it's the end of the Wizard of Oz and theydrop the silly accents and demolish the dollhouse." I shushed her, because I try to be an open-minded critic, but I was horribly afraid she was right. I should have had more faith. After a long evening of clever, tedious avant-garde choices, Mabou Mines pulled a splendidly original, gut-wrenching, curtain-closer right out of Ibsen's butt.
The Ibsen Award for Best Last Two Minutes (Comedy Division): Neofuturists for "The Last Two Minutes of the Complete Works of Henrki Ibsen."
This chronological career retrospective taught me that a playwright can rise to greatness after writing whole bunches of awful, awful plays. It also taught me that "Ghosts" is hilarious.
Best Single Costume: Strawdog Theatre for the Bearded Lady in "True Ballad of Falls Blessing."
This sweet, ruched, confection looked like a circus outfit made by Betsy Johnson. I just loved it. Even with the beard.
Best Single Overall Look: House Theatre for the Witch of the West in "The Great and Terrible Wizard of Oz."
Slashed to the navel, with a flowing skirt and these detachable bat-wing arm thingies, Laurie Klapperich's costume was pure sex, and also pure witch. Add Molly Brennin's elegant black and green bob, and armful of tattoos...you've got an iconic presence that will temporarily obliterate all images of warts and pointy hats.
The "America is Scary" Award for Depressingly Relevant Revival of a Chestnut: Raven Theatre for "A Few Good Men."
Torture, arrogance, and military cover-ups. It was written when? 1980s? Oh, Jesus.
"America is Scary" Regional Award: Theatre Harrisburg (Harrisburg, PA) for "Inherit the Wind."
The theatre opened this redux of the Scopes Monkey Trial to coincide with the Dover Area School District trial on teaching intelligent design. Should I applaud their timely use of the medium, or should I shudder that they can even BE timely with a play that premiered on Broadway in 1955?
Weirdest Mix of Emotions inspired in Reina Hardy by a Show: Steep Theatre for "Book of Days"
It made me angry, and hungry for cheese. This has never happened before, even though hypocrisy is awful and cheese is delicious.
Most Uppity Techy: Scotty Iseri
This moxious sound tech seems to prefer bright red pleather to his rightful blacks. Not only does he headline the Big Rock Show, he somehow manages to get on stage while doing effects (Kid Simple, The Long Christmas Ride Home.) He's lucky he's cute, or I'm sure the union would have something to say.
Best Concept: The Dean Evans Show
I'm so over national celebrities. But where can I go to ogle hometown heroes in a classic late night format? The Dean Evans show, of course, the Neo-futurists' live talk-show parody featuring local doers-of-awesome.
Best Lobby: Chopin Theatre
It's shabby, and dull red, and so like a New Orleans whorehouse, all worn velvet and pendant lamps. It makes me feel decadent in this frugal, old-world way.
Best Fight Scene: The Viola Project for "Taming of the Shrew."
Nepotistic, yes. But I'll stand by it. There's a lot of great fightwork in this town, but until you've seen two eleven year old girls whaling on each other, you haven't been truly entertained. There were punches to the face! Hip checks! They threw chairs! Cora and Ileana, you made me proud. I'd watch the scene again right now if I could.
Best Unintentional Audience Participation Moment: Me at "Lookingglass Alice"
The Cheshire Cat was crouching right in front of me. He looked so cat-like and alert, I couldn't resist petting him. A grown man! How inappropriate, really. Then he turned around and sort of cat-nuzzled my leg. Awww, actors.
That's it for this year, my sweet potatoes, my fruity booties. Watch this space for the best of years to come, and go see some theatre this weekend, dammit!