Highlights and lowlights of the year

GOING TO THE THEATER is about the entire experience: finding parking, grabbing a quick dinner, sitting through the performance, and, yes, sometimes drinking heavily afterward. A person writing a review shouldn't be affected by the externals; however, when free food is involved, it's hard to be subjective. Here are some of our best and worst moments of theatergoing from 2000.

HIGHLIGHTS

Seeing the return of several of my favorite performers and directors to Seattle in the last year, including director Alison Narver (first with Empty Space's Texarkana Waltz, now as the Space's new artistic director);actor Chris Welch, back from New York, as the hilariously slow-thinking police detective in ACT's A Skull in Connemara; and, finally, the reappearance of sultry-voiced sexpot Shelley Reynolds, also at the Space, in Ludlam's Reverse Psychology.—John Longenbaugh

I am thankful that the actors at Re-bar can perform in a cloud of cigarette smoke. With beer on tap and an ashtray at each seat, the cabaret setting satisfies my thirst for culture and my most base desire to catch a buzz. It's the ultimate in audience participation. —Gregory Zura

They say the best way to get a theater job in Seattle is to move to New York. So it was pleasant to see a few local actors shine through the scads of imports at the big houses, namely Lori Larsen in New Patagonia as Roxie, and Timothy McCuen Piggee and Jos Viramontes at the Intiman in Measure for Measure.—Robyn Bell

From Roller Derby musicals (Roller Girls) to intense psychological dramas like Hedda Gabler, the hangar at the former Sand Point Naval Base, despite its immense size, is a surprisingly delightful place to put on a play. Hmm, someone should have a sit-down with the Department of Defense.—G.Z.

Why wait for the audience to toss bouquets at curtain call when the Northwest Asian American Theater Company (The Fantastiks) can start things off right by tossing the audience boxes of Botan Rice Candy?—Molly Rhodes

A critic no more: Shortly after leaving Seattle Weekly, I was invited to a show

produced by some friends, a show I deeply disliked. Following that, I went along to the cast party. I wasn't there for five minutes before someone asked what I thought of the play: "I loved it," I cheerfully lied. —J.L.

LOWLIGHTS

When you go to review a play, there are often these lovely and unexpected perks, but you have to be on your toes. I went to a gala opening and was greeted at the door by a woman who said, "Come in and have a glass of wine." So I walked up to the bar and poured myself a glass. Then I slowly realized that everyone else was paying for theirs.—R.B.

Why do good people do bad theater? Watching a train wreck like Derek Horton's Lear, which involved dozens of talented people being made to look like idiots thanks to the director's empty-headed caprices, you can start to understand how cults begin: a charismatic leader and a seemingly good idea. My actor friends, do yourself and us a favor: Next time you read an awful script or realize the director doesn't know what he's doing, abandon ship. That particular show doesn't have to go on.—J.L.

One of my worst moments, but one of my best excuses, was when I had an extra ticket and invited someone from work to join me. On the way there, this person proceeded to get in a fight with a homeless person, and we missed the play.—R.B.

Worst audience-to-cast ratio: 9-to-13, minus two people who left five minutes into the play (at Greenstage's The Winter's Tale). But at least the three people shuffling in after that made a noisy entrance to show the cast that somebody cared.—M.R.

I ran the wrong phone number for Re-bar's Hedwig and the Angry Inch in our theater listings for two weeks. Instead, some very nice man's home phone line took some 30 calls a day on those opening weekends. The owner of Re-bar tried to comp him with free tickets, and I have yet to make amends.—R.B.

Writing my last review for Seattle Weekly was delightful. The show, St. Nicholas with Laurence Ballard snarling through a performance as an embittered theater critic, was perfectly suited to my mood. But even as I was chuckling over my final paragraph, I suddenly realized that it was going to be the last time that anyone really thought that my opinion about a show mattered.—J.L.

 
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