Lots of stars in 2020’s local theater scene
For over a dozen years, I drafted a list of the “Most Notable, Nifty, and Nicely Staged Plays and Musicals” of the past year.
And from the approximately 30 shows attended, the list was pared down to my favorite 12 — or in a few rare cases, to a baker’s dozen. But that was before COVOD-19!
With local and area theatres shut down for most of 2020, my list, out of necessity, is cut down to a precious few productions.
So, in no particular order, is my substantially reduced list of the “Most Notable, Nifty, and Nicely Staged” shows of 2020:
(Community Theatre League) — Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller received a rousing rendition with Seth Sponhouse directing this ambitious production. Chris Dailey as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Marissa Hickey as his cohort in crime Mrs. Lovett, headed a large cast in this bloody good musical.
(Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble) — This taut drama was notable as co-founder Laurie McCants’ last Main Stage appearance. Two other cofounders of the acclaimed professional theatre, Elizabeth Dowd and James Goode complete the cast, debating the effects of a nuclear disaster upon future generations of children.
BRING IT ON!
(Community Theatre League) — Sidestepping the limited inside attendance restrictions, CTL notably moved this energetic musical to the Loyalsock Lancer Football Field. With a cheerleader competition, the summertime musical was a nicely staged, natural fit in its outside venue.
(Millbrook Playhouse) — Producing Artistic Director David Leidholdt creatively moved the Millbrook Youth Ensemble outside the old dairy barn’s Main Stage to retell this childhood favorite. So the Millbrook parking lot became the venue for Alice to meet and greet all the colorful “Looking Glass” characters.
(RiverStage Community Theatre) — Jove Graham and the cast of community theatre thespians notably set up the “World’s Longest Running Musical” in Hufnagle Park near Bucknell University. Even when the weather didn’t cooperate during the opening performance, this musical with “Try To Remember” as its signature song was a nifty effort, appreciated by its good-sized audiences.
BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS
(Community Theatre League) — The first of Neil Simon’s trilogy (“Biloxi Blues,” “Broadway Bound” followed) is notable not only for the audience’s safety protocols, but because the cast wore masks throughout the performance. This production, headed by Adam Fox, was one of the few shows that was successfully mounted on a stage inside its theatre setting.