My selections for Critic's Choice of the best in community theater in South Puget Sound are selected from performances I have reviewed in this column during the 2009-2010 theater season. My point in doing this is to acknowledge those who are commendable without making it into a winner-takes-all competition, so in many categories I have chosen more than one person or show.
Best actor in a musical (male): Bill Bland as Fats Waller and other characters in “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” at Centerstage.
Best actor in a musical (female): Caitlin Frances as Ellie in “Carl Sagan’s Contact” at Centerstage.
Best direction of a musical: Jon Douglas Rake for “All Shook Up” at Tacoma Musical Playhouse.
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Best musical: “Annie” at Capital Playhouse followed closely by two versions of the same play, “Rent” at both Tacoma Musical Playhouse and Capital Playhouse – two vastly different productions with different casts and directors, but both emotionally engrossing and musically rocking.
Best dramatic actor (male): Elliot Weiner as Morrie Schwartz in “Tuesdays with Morrie” at Lakewood Playhouse.
Best dramatic actor (female): For making complexity of characterization seem easy, Raychel A. Wagner as Callie in “Stop Kiss” by Prodigal Sun Productions; for mind-bending physicality, Helen Harvester as Abby in “Mating Dance of the Werewolf” at Harlequin Productions.
Best direction of a drama: Brian Tyrrell for “Rabbit Hole” at Harlequin Productions.
Best drama: “Rabbit Hole” at Harlequin Productions.
Best comic actor (male): Aaron Earle Hobbes as various Shakespearean characters in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” at Olympia Little Theatre.
Best comic actor (female): This one goes to two actors from Capital Playhouse shows, Stephanie C. Nace as Sister Mary Amnesia in “Nunsense” and Jennie May Donnell as Mrs. Hannigan in “Annie.”
Best duo in a comedy: Marcus Walker and Scott Campbell for “A Tuna Christmas” at Lakewood Playhouse and Tacoma Little Theatre. Note: I picked this same duo last year for “Greater Tuna” at Lakewood Playhouse.
Best comedy: “Noises Off” at Tacoma Little Theatre and “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” at Olympia Little Theatre.
Best new play: “Carl Sagan’s Contact” at Centerstage, written by Alan Bryce with music by Peter Sipos and lyrics by Amy Engelhardt. Directed by Alan Bryce.
Best supporting actor: Robert McConkey in a dual role as Stephen Hawking and Jesus in “End Days” at Harlequin Productions.
Best youth actor: Kat Christensen as Alice in “You Can’t Take It With You” and as Becky Thatcher in “Tom Sawyer,” both at Lakewood Playhouse.
Best choreography for a musical: Richard J. Hinds for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Capital Playhouse.
Best set design: Jill Carter for “Rabbit Hole” at Harlequin Productions and, for something entirely different, the multi-talented Bruce Haasl’s great and playful pop-art design for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Capital Playhouse
Best lighting: Greg Scott for “Fiddler on the Roof” at All Saints Theatrical Repertoire association, Puyallup.
Best costumes: Audra Merritt for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Capital Playhouse and Diana Scott for “Fiddler on the Roof” at All Saints Theatrical Repertoire Association, Puyallup.
Best ensemble: “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” with “The 15 Minute Hamlet” at Lakewood Playhouse, produced by The Outfit, the best new community theater in South Sound.
Gone but not forgotten: Farewell to Robert McConkey and Paul Purvine, two South Sound stalwarts who are now trying to crack the Big Apple. Their talents on stage and behind the curtains will be missed.