onStage – So much Pittsburgh theater, so little time is among my top picks for the subtitle of my theater-going life. A good overall title might be: “There’s No Business Like Covering Show Business.”
Combine those two, and you understand that the joy of a “Best Of” lists is the opportunity to look back on fond memories of the year. However, they also serve as reminders of all that I’ve missed.
Treasure Treasure (Hamlet, Quantum Theatre) – Treasure was dream casting, in an unforgettable, tough and touching performance, set against a stunning Carrie Furnaces backdrop.
Sam Turich (The Devil Is a Lie, Hamlet, Quantum) – Two very different shows, two devilishly nuanced roles (and, for those of us who attended the Three Rivers Film Festival, Turich was perfectly unlikeable as Bruce Ismay, in the Pittsburgh-filmed Unsinkable).
Dan Mayhak (Merrily We Roll Along, Front Porch; The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Quantum) – It’s hard to single out one performer from either of these lovingly presented musical productions, but taken together, it was a stellar year for Mayhak.
Hamlet (Quantum Theatre) – Director Jeffrey Carpenter, working with a tight adaptation by Karla Boos, steered a revelatory reimagining of one of the best-known plays in the English language. The large, foreboding Tony Ferrieri set, itself dwarfed by a Carrie Furnaces ruin, was an additional character in the perfectly populated drama.
The Devils is a Lie (Quantum) – Of the three Quantum productions in 2023, the immersive production at the Frick Building, Downtown, took a big risk with technology and it paid off, engaging the audience (and their smartphones) in new and compelling ways. The drama was directed by Kyle Haden, whose very busy year finished with a flourish, a holiday show for City Theatre.
BOB HOOVER’s TOP PICKS of 2023
Quantum’s Hamlet, Pittsburgh Playwrights Joe Turner’s Come and Gone , barebones The Sound Inside, Public Theater’s Native Gardens, Riverfront Theater’s Assassins.
Elsewhere: Stratford Shakespeare Festival Rent, Shaw Festival On the Razzle.