In Review: Favorite Theater Experiences of 2011

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​Though it's been a wild, wonderful year of theatergoing, and the very best shows were better than ever, I found it unusually easy to narrow the best down to fewer than 20. For what that's worth.



Also, let's acknowledge that we're talking about live, ephemeral art here. Unfortunately, if you missed any of these productions while they were running, you can't use our glowing reviews to guide you to enjoy them now.

I hope you got to see some fabulous stuff that I'm sorry to have missed. And that you'll spread the word when you come across a gem in the months to come -- word of mouth is the best, srsly, and our artists need it.

10. The Borrowers
Childsplay's faithful but innovative version of the classic children's books was anchored by a super cast, especially longtime co-stars Jon Gentry and Debra K. Stevens as heroine Arrietty's tiny little parents.

9. Ten Chimneys
Exceptional production values across the board transported Arizona Theatre Company audiences to a rarefied atmosphere of creativity, dignity, and love. This partial imagining of the lives and careers of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, a couple of the last of the old school of bona fide stage stars, was as fascinating for the outsider as it was for the rabid fan.

8. This
Actors Theatre presented this deceptively superficial urban drama, with tasty direction from Stray Cat Theatre's Ron May, that turned out to be about what it takes for us to go on -- and how amazing it can be that we do.

7. Head: The Musical
It was a big year for young actor Eric Boudreau, and playing the grotesque Frankenstein-style monster in this adorable locally grown musical version of the dreadful old horror film The Brain That Wouldn't Die was a big step on his journey. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast just about shook Soul Invictus to the ground with their joy and energy.

6. The Unhappiness Plays
Space 55 scored big-time coolness points for Phoenix when they premièred Greg Kotis' group of short plays here and then took them to the New York International Fringe Festival, but the watchability came from Bob Fisher's direction of the spittingly funny vignettes.



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