Unseen artists enriched our lives last year in the first four months of this theatre season, especially directors, scenic and costume designers.
A collaboration among many made Patrick Barlow’s The 39 Steps at Bluebarn a delightfully wild and crazy circus, ring-mastered by inventive Susan Clement-Toberer. The wigs and costumes from Kendra Newby became a show in themselves amid Martin Marchitto’s deliberately minimal scenic delights and Shea Saladee’s old-time lighting, while the cast tumbled and flipped Amy Reiner’s goofy props and a handful of puppets. Backstage
, a great team did wonders with the non-stop changes of all that and more, including rapid light and sound cues.
Steven L. Williams’ glowing projections enriched director D. Scott Glasser’s impressive staging of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town at UNO in an interpretation which made it live again. Glasser’s use of choral groups with international roots movingly underscored the play’s universality.
Williams scenic designs significantly loomed in UNO’s production of Spring Awakening by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. It pulsed with truth, thanks to co-directors Doran Schmidt and Wai Yim. They evoked personality and soul from the student cast portraying German ones with kinship to today. Choreographer Yim filled the space with meaningful movement.
Director Joshua Mullady compellingly evoked other tortured German lives in Martin Sherman’s Bent at SNAP. The relentless piling on of concentration camp stones in the second act could weigh us all down. Mullady got his excellent cast to gives us an experience seething with harrowing truth.
At the Playhouse, directors Suzanne Withem and Amy Lane likewise assembled and motivated superb ensembles in Eminent Domain and Stupid Fucking Bird.
In Aaron’s Posner’s Bird, a flight of fancy taking off from Chekhov’s The Seagull, Withem made it both genuinely serious and wonderfully amusing whenever the fourth wall came down.
The world-premiering script for Domain is by Laura Leinenger-Campbell. She displayed insights and ways to express them equal to produced writers with much more extensive experience. Lane made real the sense of community which pervades this story, taking place in our time and state.
Wherever we turned in those final months of last year, we found theatre vibrantly alive and well. A great foretaste of the new year now begun.