Thursday, December 27, 2007

Palm Beach Post Presents "The Hapsters"

Hap Erstein published his top picks for 2007 in Sunday's Palm Beach Post. Along with his ten choices for the best of 2007, he had some...other...categories, including Best Title for a Flaccid Play and Lowest Artistic Aspirations for a New Play
. See his article for THOSE award winners.

But his top ten are:

1. 'A House With No Walls,' Florida Stage

Philadelphia writer Thomas Gibbons scored big with his third straight thought-provoking drama on racial themes, looking at the political spin we place on history, in a crackling production led by coolly cerebral Karen Stephens.

2. 'Man of La Mancha,' Maltz Jupiter

Director Peter Flynn decided against a revisionist take on this musical classic from the idealistic '60s, and none was needed, for this musical biography of Cervantes and his masterwork, Don Quixote, still cast a spell on the audience.

3. 'Marc Salem's Mind Games,' Kravis Center

A low-key contemporary vaudevillian's act of apparent audience mind-reading still confounds us to this day - how did he do that? - and we will be back for more befuddlement when he returns the first week of January.

4. 'Melt,' New Theatre

Davie playwright Michael McKeever's best script yet, a tale of six intertwined characters in today's multicultural Miami, an epic tale inventively staged on this company's tiny stage.

5. 'Side by Side by Sondheim,' Palm Beach Dramaworks

Begin with the early songbook of the reigning composer-lyricist of Broadway, and you have a head start to a great evening, but a top-notch ensemble and the musical direction of Craig Ames made it even more sublime.

6. 'Lieutenant of Inishmore,' GableStage

Ireland's master of mayhem ups the gore content and the comedy level in this riotous fable of Irish rebels who can't shoot straight, in a blood-spattered production featuring a scene-stealing black cat.

7. 'According to Goldman,' Florida Stage

A glib morality tale about the screenwriting game from Hollywood veteran Bruce Graham, about a writing instructor who encounters an unusually savvy student in this twist on All About Eve.

8. 'Trying,' Palm Beach Dramaworks

Maybe Joanna Glass' portrait of former attorney general Francis Biddle in his final year of life is not a great play, but Peter Haig made it a superb evening of theater, an intimation of our collective mortality.

9. 'Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life,' Kravis Center

At 74, the star of West Side Story, Chicago and Kiss of the Spider Woman redefined ageless, touring with her Broadway career biography, reminding us how few performers dedicate their lives to the theater anymore.

10. 'Pericles,' Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival

Director-actor Kevin Crawford selected one of the Bard's lesser, action-packed potboilers then uncharacteristically delivered a straightforward production that was accessible and involving, one of the company's best outings in years.

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