In a year of excellence in the WNC theater scene, it is a daunting task to narrow to the top five.
5. An Iliad was a tale as old as time, told in a sparse way on the bare stage of North Carolina Stage Company. Willie Repoley was dynamic as the sole actor on stage, recounting wars waged from ancient Greece to the 21st century. Accompanied by haunting music from lone pianist and composer Jan Powell, this show was stirring and mesmerizing. N.C. Stage’s strong year had many great shows, but the one that stuck with me the most was this partnership production with Immediate Theatre Project.
4. Art was a play I knew quite well, having been in the show myself once. The folks of The Actor’s Center of Asheville had a daunting task ahead of themselves in pleasing me with their production at Asheville Community Theatre’s tiny 35 Below space. Happily, the stellar acting trio of Dan Clancy, Robert Dale Walker and Kevin Patrick Murphy nailed it.
3. Asheville Community Theatre has cracked the code on what it takes to fill houses and grow audiences. This year, Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein came alive as a Halloween treat for theatergoers. And despite being a nonprofessional community theater, the company gave us one of the most refined and professional productions of the year.
2. Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz closed out Flat Rock Playhouse’s 2015 season with a strong production that is ready for Broadway and Tony Awards. I feel strongly both could be in the company’s future. Flat Rock Playhouse has lived up to its designation as the State Theatre of North Carolina. It’s strong season also included the spectacular Tuskegee Airmen saga, Fly.
1. The Magnetic Theatre produces new works, which can be a daunting task. One show was simply the most moving and inspiring piece of theater I saw all year. It was a tale of the last day of the lives of the ill-fated women who worked in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It also reminded me of just how wonderfully intimate theater can be. Local author David Hopes’ Washington Place was the best show of 2015.