Best of 2011
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This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.
Sometimes in LA the only thing we have to mark the end of the year is a little rainstorm, a new year's hat and some top ten lists. So in that spirit, I give you my best of LA Theatre 2011.
Number 10: Boston Court Theatre's production of Camino Real by Tennessee Williams.
In a year that saw theaters everywhere celebrating Williams' centennial, Boston Court teamed up with CalArts to do an ambitious, if not entirely successful, production.
Number 9: Circle Mirror Transformation at South Coast Rep
Once again, South Coast commits to wonderful veteran local actors like Arye Gross and Linda Gehringer - take a hint other big theaters (you know who you are).
Number 8: Mad Women by John Fleck
John Fleck is the energizer bunny of LA solo performance and a one-man lesson in commitment to your work and going deeper.
Number 7: Trojan Women at the Getty
Ellen Lauren in an outdoor amphitheater mourning the loss of her burning Troy - nuff said.
Number 6: God of Carnage at the Ahmanson
Sure, it's a star studded redux of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf but man could that ensemble act. If you're gonna cast stars, that's how to do it.
Number 5: Radar:LA, the TCG Conference and the Hollywood Fringe
For two glorious weeks, LA was the center of theatre in America. The lessons: festivals rock and critical mass is . . . well, critical. Radar:LA championed the long overdue idea that LA should embrace it's neighbors to the south and west and seek out the theatrical voices of Latin America and Asia.
Number 4: Neva by Chile's Teatro en el Blanco
A standout from the Radar:LA festival, Neva was performed in Spanish by three remarkable actors on a tiny raft of a stage, lit by a single light. In the closing monologue, a young actress implores us to change the world and leave the empty and meaningless theater. Ironically, by decrying how useless acting is, she provided one of the most vivid arguments for an actor's power.
Number 3: La Razon Blindada at 24th Street Theater
La Razon Blindada was more proof that subtitles won't scare people away and our theatre is richer the more we embrace the diversity of Los Angeles. It ran for months on end, there were tamales in the lobby, and most important it was a wonderful production. 24th Street is on to something. Please people: copy them.
Number 2: The Rude Mechs at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
LA prides itself on being a theatre town made up of actor driven companies. The Austin-based Rude Mechs gave us a lesson in how to raise the bar on ensemble theater. And they're just plain hysterical.
Number 1: The haunting production of Blackbird at Rogue Machine
Two actors, barely over 40 seats, a frightening script, brilliantly directed - the best of intimate theatre in LA.
More of these, please.
To see the full reviews and to add your top ten and remind me what I've missed: check out KCRW.com/theatre.
Next week, the year ahead.