Gails' First-Ever "Best of..." Column

Posted December 29, 2006

Doing a Best of the Year column is pretty much de rigeur these days, so I thought that I would jump on the band-wagon. 2006 has been a good year to be Gail M. Burns and be reviewing theatre in the greater Berkshire region! As always, I have been invited to write about many wonderful and talented people at a variety of venues, and it is that variety that keeps everything humming. There is no such thing as a "Best Show of 2006" because they are all so different. So I will not be offering a numerical ranking, and God forbid there will be no "Worst of..." listings! What I offer here is a random list of people and performances that caught my eye over the past twelve-months.

Individual Honors
(These are actors I particularly enjoyed in a specific role.)

Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Michael Hammond, and Corinna May in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare & Company (I was very close to giving the whole cast credit for this one)
Stephen Bolte in Cats at the Mac-Haydn Theatre
Jim Charles in C-R Productions’ La Cage Aux Folles at the Cohoes Music Hall
Jessica Costa in C-R Productions’ Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Cohoes Music Hall
Robert Krecklow in The Burnt-Part Boys at Barrington Stage
Susan Louise O’Connor in Wonder of the World at Barrington Stage
Diane Prusha in Enchanted April at Shakespeare & Company
Kelly L. Shook & Karla Shook in Guys and Dolls at the Mac-Haydn Theatre
Joshua Sprague in Mill City ProductionsThe Hitchhiker

Solo Successes
(I saw quite a few excellent one-actor shows this year.)

Andrew Dawson in Absence & Presence at MASS MoCA
Jonathan Epstein in Via Dolorosa at the Berkshire Theatre Festival
Ikuko Ikari in Shakespeare & Company’s Morgan O-Yuki: Geisha of the Gilded Age at the Museum of the Gilded Age at Ventfort Hall
Annette Miller in Martha Mitchell Calling at Shakespeare & Company
Naava Piatka in Better Don’t Talk at the New York State Theatre Institute

Ensemble Kudos
(There are times when a cast functions so beautifully as an ensemble that it is unfair to single out just one or two performances.)

The cast of C-R Productions' Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Cohoes Music Hall
The Panto-Loons in Cinderella at the Ghent Playhouse
The cast of Forever Plaid at the Mac-Haydn Theatre
The cast of Town Players’ production of Molly Sweeney (currently touring under the aegis of Homespun Productions)
The cast of The Servant of Two Masters at Shakespeare & Company
The cast of Urinetown at the Theater Barn

Actors who caught my eye in many productions over the year:
Byron DeMent
Charles Franklin
David Girard
Jerielle Morowitz
Johnna Murray
Jason Paul
Sean Quinn
Megan Rozak
Skye Vogel

Adorable Kids Award
C-R Productions at the Cohoes Music Hall

Random Cool Things I Saw/Did This Year
Staged reading of “The Old Mezzo” by Susan Dworkin at the Becket Elementary School
Staged reading of “Cardinio” at the Williamstown Theatre Festival
Rode backwards the wrong way down a one-way street in the pouring rain in a car driven by Julianne Boyd
Received a copy of a Jacob’s Pillow program from a 1949 performance in which my late mother appeared
Attended the series of seminars presented by the new MCLA Degree Program in Arts Management
Took my son Brandon to see “Ragtime” at the Cohoes Music Hall. The show was great and before-hand we visited the Cohoes Falls and saw a beautiful rainbow arching over the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers!
Started by my nephew Aaron’s formal theatrical education
Met Jimm Halliday!

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