A list of the most notable theater productions of 2018

Not that I’m keeping a close count, but having seen nearly three dozen plays and musicals this past year, it’s time to select the “baker’s dozen” which I found to be the most notable, nicely-staged and nifty productions of 2018.

In no particular order, here are my

top productions of 2018:

“To Kill A Mockingbird” (Millbrook Playhouse) — As the only non-musical presented on the Upstairs Main Stage, this production, based upon Harper Lee’s award-winning novel, was stirring, well cast and notable as both a popular and artistic success.

“My Fair Lady” (Lincoln Center Theater) — Having seen the original over 50 years ago, this Lerner and Lowe classic musical, which was nominated for last season’s Tony as “Best Revival,” was beautifully recreated in the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Laura Benanti was a fetching Eliza Doolittle, with huge sets and a revolving stage.

“The Legend of Georgia McBride” (Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble) — Although this over-the-top comedy about a downtrodden Elvis impersonator featured a visiting professional drag queen, it was BTE’s Richard Cannaday and Danny Roth who brought hoots of laughter in this off beat romp.

“The Miracle Worker” (Community Theatre League) — With Marie Fox in the director’s chair, this retelling of the Helen Keller-Annie Sullivan relationship was poignantly portrayed. This drama was deservedly acclaimed as one of the highlights of CTL’s season.

“Miss Chase, Mr. Lincoln” (National Historic Theater) — The one-woman show, depicting the relationship between Washington socialite Kate Chase and President Lincoln, was vividly played by Audrey Potash. The performances at Mifflinburg’s Rusty Rail Company featured Potash as the ambitious Miss Chase, nicely singing tunes from the Civil War era.

“Claybourne Park” (Penn State Centre Stage) — Race relations in a Chicago housing development received a no-holds-barred biting attack in a student-produced satire, notable by its unique focus on prejudice set forth in two segments, fifty years apart.

“Mary Poppins” (Christ Wesleyan Theatre Productions) — An ambitious offering was notable as the Milton stage bubbled over with flying of five principals, well rehearsed singing and dancing, and a cast which reportedly totally nearly 85, the largest ever assembled for any musical.

“Carrie” (Open Stage of Harrisburg) — Artistic Director Stuart Landon notably picked this rarely-produced musical, presenting it with balanced doses of gore and intense characterizations. Many sell-outs resulted with the actresses portraying “Carrie” and her zealous mother, heading a strong cast of veterans and newbies at the bloody prom.

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” (RiverStage) — This hilarious ode to the joys and sorrows of mating and dating is notable as it expanded this long-standing community theater’s musical agenda. Also noteworthy is Jacquie Engel, who reportedly was directing this musical comedy for the fourth time.

“Chess” (FUSE Productions) — Artistic Director Richard Biever succeeded in staging this championship match between the Russian and American. The full orchestra and powerful vocals by some Equity performers elevated this musical drama to effective heights in Penn State’s Schwab Auditorium.

“Driving Miss Daisy” (Community Theatre League) — With only three in the cast, this production of an elderly Jewish woman’s slowly developing bond with her black driver over many years in the deep South brought prolonged applause as a Moyer Studio Series production.

“Act of God” (Millbrook Playhouse) — Plaudits are given to Artistic Director David Leidholdt for obtaining the rights to this recently released show. And veteran Mark de la Concha was outstanding as the all-mighty and all mouthy Deity in Millbrook’s season finale.

“The Wizard of Oz” (Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble) — With an extended run, the regional professional ensemble struck gold heading down the yellow brick road. A large cast, with many community actors, won new fans of all ages with this delightful musical offering.

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