Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Here today, gone … well, it depends. Theater’s glory is that it’s live, right in the same room with you, but disappearing by the moment. How long it lasts depends on it and you.
So the Post-Gazette’s annual best play selections (which go back a half-century or so) aren’t just awards; they’re an invitation to celebrate the best of the past theatrical year in order to bring them back into mind, to give them fresh life.
This was a year of world premieres, some of the most visible being “L’Hotel” (Public), “Smart Blonde” (City), “The Great One” (Playwrights), “21” (Point Park), “Judge Jackie Justice” (CLO Cabaret) and, most glamorous of all, “An American in Paris,” which we haven’t even seen yet. Co-executive produced by the CLO’s Van Kaplan, it just premiered in Paris and is heading to Broadway.
Of course there was also drama beyond the stage, including the rescue of the August Wilson Center from certain death (converted into a hotel!). Ken Gargaro retired from Pittsburgh Musical Theater amid much hoopla, with Tim Hartman singing “The Impossible Dream.” Bricolage emerged into the national spotlight …. There will be more to say in our other theater retrospective, announcing the Performer of the Year (and director, designer, etc.), coming early in 2015.
This year’s Top Ten includes eight theater groups — not as many as last year’s unprecedented 10 but still evidence of the broad excellence of Pittsburgh theater. And there are seven more groups in the baker’s dozen of runners-up.
In all this, we also drew on the opinions of Bob Hoover and other PG critics.
1. “Tamara” (Quantum): A submersive event that changed for each participant. Quantum turned Shadyside’s Rodef Shalom Temple into a 1927 art deco Italian palace, in which Gabriele d’Annunzio and various mistresses, political operatives and servants schemed and seduced, moving from grand hall to kitchen to patio to bedroom to bedroom to bedroom, while eager audience members followed whichever character took their fancy. At intermission we shared a meal and information then leapt back into the ongoing melodrama. Fabulous…