Criticalrant’s Final “First Choices” of 2015


Criticalrant top production of 2015: Lorca's BLOOD WEDDING by Cara Mia Theatre Company

Criticalrant Top Stage Production of 2015: Federico Garcia Lorca’s BLOOD WEDDING by Cara Mia Theatre Company. Set design: Bob Lavallee; Photo: Adolfo Cantu Villareal

2015 unfolded as a stunner of a thespian year, from classics to new work, dynamic paradigm-shifters to re-invigorated audience favorites, ensemble achievements to compelling solo work. Youth to senior artists. And music? Glorious music! Performance art in our region thrives with energy, respect, initiative and genuine variety. Dedicated, impassioned creative people form the backbone of the community. I salute all of you for the worthy endeavors you have brought to life.

Arts Leader of 2015: Bruce R. Coleman, Acting Artistic Director, Theatre Three

10353099_10152467772513034_529742906858158098_nIs it ever easy to step into the shoes of a founding director? When Theatre Three’s Co-founder and Executive Producer Jac Alder passed away in 2015, Bruce stepped up to the massive undertaking. He honors Jac’s memory and legacy with dignity, wisdom, compassion and artistic vision and has blossomed as an arts leader in a way that Jac would surely approve. Thank you, Bruce, for shouldering this company and arts community challenge with such character, style and grace. You are a true leader.

Criticalrant’s Top Productions of 2015:

1) Blood Wedding: Cara Mia Theatre Co. by Federico Garcia Lorca, directed by David Lozano —

“Many people say that Blood Wedding is their favorite play but they have never seen it. And I can relate. The characters are so vivid in our imagination when we read it. They are rugged and elemental yet lyrical. The story, language and characters speak to our essence as human beings. But once you move from the words on paper to embodying the characters in this three-act play, you must contend with more than the passion that lured you to mount the play in the first place. Unless you are adapting the play differently than Lorca wrote it, you have to obey, or at least acknowledge, the classical theatrical forms in which the play is structured. Act I is like a parlor drama. Act II is a living room farce. Act III is a bitter folktale. Of course, Lorca’s rich characters, dramatic tension and lyricism uplift the story to Tragedy. But you have to walk that thin line that Lorca has traced.

The actors had to walk a razor’s edge to realize the complexity of each moment. There was very little room for error but not only with the acting but with the dances and songs. Blood Wedding was a complete effort in which we were forced to contend with classical forms as well as the play’s evocative and luring content. All aspects demanded an exhaustive effort from everyone involved, and more than once, kept me awake at night. We have taken on many challenging plays but the risks we took with this production were different than for any other piece I’ve directed.” David Lozano, Executive Artistic Director, Cara Mía Theatre Co.

2) Mr. Burns, a post-electric play: Stage West, by Anne Washburn, directed by Garret Storms. Review co-written with Jason Kane —

3) Great Scott: Dallas Opera, by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally, directed by Jack O’Brien, conducted by Patrick Summers —

4) Death of A Salesman: FunHouse Theatre and Film, by Arthur Miller, directed by Susan Sargeant —

5) Othello: Second Thought Theatre, by William Shakespeare, directed by Joel Ferrell —

6) Hedwig and the Angry Inch: Uptown Players, book by John Cameron Mitchell, music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, directed by Jeremy Dumont, musical direction by Scott Eckert —

7) Grand Hotel: Lyric Stage, by Luther Davis, Robert Wright and George Forrest with additional music by Maury Yeston, directed by Len Pfluger, conducted by Jay Dias —

8) Bunuel Descending: The Ochre House, written and directed by Matthew Posey, choreography by Antonio Arrebola and Delilah Muse, original music by Calvin Hazen, Bobby Fajardo and Jose Cortes Fernandez —

9) Streamers: L.I.P. Service Productions, by David Rabe, directed by Seth Johnston —

10) The Mountaintop: Oklahoma CITY REPertory Theatre, by Katori Hall, directed by Rene Moreno (a co-production with The Pollard and The Poteet Theatres) —

Criticalrant’s Top Dance production: The Show About Men: Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, lyrics by Justin Locklear, original music composed and played by Trey Pendergrass, directed and choreographed by Danielle Georgiou —

Criticalrant’s Top Youth Production: A Bollywood Midsummer Night’s Dream — Junior Players, by William Shakespeare, directed by Valerie Hauss-Smith and Anastazia Munoz —

Criticalrant’s Top Original Production: Standing 8 Count, a solo work by Van Quattro, directed by Clay Wheeler —

Criticalrant’s Top Stage Production on Film: Hamlet at The Barbican Theatre, National Theatre Live, directed by Lindsey Turner — (soundcloud podcast)


Katherine Michelle Tanner in The Amish Project at Oklahoma CITY REPertory Company

Katherine Michelle Tanner in The Amish Project at Oklahoma CITY REPertory Company. MUTZ Photo

Criticalrant’s Top Female Acting Performance of 2015: Katherine Michelle Tanner, The Amish Project, Oklahoma CITY REPertory Theatre: by Jessica Dickey, directed by Todd Olson —

“I am proud of our production of THE AMISH PROJECT — honored that we could share it with The Columbia Festival in Maryland, The Banyon Theatre in Florida and finally in a highly regarded Off-Broadway run. The work of our creative team, Director Todd Olson, our designers, and particularly Katherine Michelle Tanner’s passionate, heartfelt and profoundly moving performance, represented the best elements of professional regional theatre’s ability to enlighten, educate and inspire!”

Donald Jordan, Founding Artistic Director, Oklahoma CITY REPertory Theatre

Montgomery Sutton, center as Berowne in Love's Labour's Lost at Trinity Shakespeare

Montgomery Sutton, center, as Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost at Trinity Shakespeare

Criticalrant’s Top Male Acting Performance of 2015: Montgomery Sutton in Trinity Shakespeare’s King Lear directed by TJ Walsh (as Edmund) and in Love’s Labour’s Lost directed by Joel Ferrell (as Berowne)

“My time with Trinity this year was an exhilarating honor. To work with such skilled and generous directors and fellow actors is an incredible blessing, but tackling two of my very favorite roles in such beautifully designed worlds and in a fast repertory rehearsal process (that recreates so magically the way the plays were originally explored) made this summer at Trinity one of my absolute favorite professional experiences.

Edmund has been my favorite role for years because he mixes the charisma and irresistible viciousness of all the most delicious villains with the same keen eye for truth versus hypocrisy and battle against the world’s expectations that we see in the great heroes like Hal. I’ve gotten to explore the role with three different companies, but Trinity was the first where I felt fully able to dive into the deeper, most human elements of the character because of the strength of TJ’s vision and the always inspiring, raw, impulsive work happening throughout the acting company.” Montgomery Sutton

Criticalrant’s “First Choice” Acting Performances of 2015: some surprised me, some transformed me, some made me think or laugh or cry, all demonstrated honesty and commitment, all memorable….

Female –

Joyce DiDonato, Great Scott, Dallas Opera

Emily Scott Banks, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, Stage West

Amber Devlin, Picnic, Theatre Three

Grace Neeley, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Uptown Players

Junene K, The Mountaintop, Oklahoma CITY REPertory Theatre

Frida Espinosa-Muller, Blood Wedding, Cara Mia Theatre Co.

Leslie Boren, The Whale, L.I.P. Service Productions

Denise Lee, Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill, Jubilee Theatre

Jenny Ledel, Othello, Second Thought Theatre

Taylor Donnelson, The Whale, L.I.P. Service Productions

Stephanie Cleghorn Jasso, blu and Blood Wedding, Cara Mia Theatre Co.

Caroline Dubberly, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Stage West and Blood Wedding, Cara Mia Theatre Co.

Kennedy Waterman, Harbor, Uptown Players and Death of A Salesman, FunHouse Theatre and Film

Janelle Lutz, South Pacific and Lady in the Dark, Lyric Stage; I Do!I Do!, Brick Road Theatre


Jason Leyva, The Whale, L.I.P. Service Productions

B.J. Cleveland, The Nance, Uptown Players

Kyle Igneczi, Hedwig and The Angry Inch, Uptown Players

Pat Watson, Streamers, L.I.P. Service Productions

Andy Baldwin, Grand Hotel, Lyric Stage

Wes Mason, Hamlet, Fort Worth Opera

Terry Vandivort, The Fantasticks, Theatre Three

Jerome Stevenson, The Mountaintop, Oklahoma CITY REPertory Theatre

Blake Hackler, King Lear and Love’s Labour’s Lost, Trinity Shakespeare

R. Andrew Aguilar, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Theatre of North Texas and Blood Wedding, Cara Mia Theatre Co.

Jeff Swearingen, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare Dallas and Death of A Salesman, FunHouse Theatre and Film

Chris Rodenbaugh, Romeo and Juliet, The Wraith and Death of A Salesman, FunHouse Theatre and Film

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