The Way They Were

In which our performance critics supply the year's misty watercolor memories.

STAGE

Best Case of "Who Was That?"

He was up against the play's imposing writer herself, but a wrenchingly subtle Howard W. Overshown took Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman duet at ACT and turned his troubled hero into a solo event.

Saddest Supporting Actor Award

Nobody looked more miserable than that guy forced to play a cake knife in the touring production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Runner-up: the cheese grater.

Worst Mistake by a PR Firm

Clear Channel Entertainment denied flaming homosexual Weekly columnist Steve Wiecking an interview with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' Miss Ann-Margret in favor of the freakin' Everett Herald, a decision that amounts to granting Ladies Home Journal exclusive rights to Muhammad Ali.

Best Reason to Believe Seattle Isn't Such a Hick Town After All

On the Boards went for the gold in a season of also-rans: It booked a singular, solid year of can't-miss, cutting-edge gems, including experimental sound pioneer John Moran, who earned unexpected tears by singing "Danny Boy" behind actor Eva Mller's lip-synched re-enactment of a day in the life of a McDonald's worker.

Most Obvious Stage Moment That Should Never Have Worked But Somehow Did

The lights came up in Intiman's world premiere adaptation of journalist Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed so that the actors playing cleaning women could step out of character and ask the audience how much it paid its own servants. Awfully precious and presumptuous? Sure. Did it make some moneyed subscribers think for half a second? You bet.

The Yin and Yang Award for Solo Shows

The Empty Space Theatre produced both Lauren Weedman's hysterical Rash and Judy Gold's G-d Doesn't Pay Rent Here, a piece that might tempt the unkind to take the word "shtick," remove the "c" and the "k," and leave you with the appropriate anagram.

Most Inspiring Lesson

Nothing was as honest and essential in the last year as the interactive student/actor discussions prompted by the Seattle Childrens Theatre's volatile, gay-themed The Wrestling Season.

Best Reason to Stop Burning Your Bra

The painfully misguided, would-be feminist rehash When Grace Comes In was almost enough to make a person side with Phyllis Schlafly.

Most Uncontrollable Laugh of the Year

Missed the climactic moment of Dina Martina's latest Christmas show? She entered dressed as an enormous plucked turkey, then proceeded to spread her drumsticks and get stuffed with oversized croutons.

swiecking@seattleweekly.com

CLASSICAL ETC.

Best Bit-Part Casting

Alexander Anisimov as an imposing, poignant Prince Gremin in Seattle Opera's Eugene Onegin.

Best Fest

The Seattle Symphony's Silk Road Project brought a lot of offbeat music we wouldn't otherwise hear, but the Seattle Chamber Players' Icebreaker festival of contemporary Russian music featured even weirder, rarer stuff (some of it not very good, either—a refreshing contrast to the everyone's-a-genius, NPR atmosphere of the Silk Road Project).

Best Opera Production

In UW's production, director Claudia Zahn got the tone of The Beggar's Opera exactly right: pointed but not preachy, slapsticky but never cute.

Moment Most Worthy of an Oscar Clip

John Duykers' fearless, frighteningly intense rant in Peter Maxwell Davies' one-man opera Eight Songs for a Mad King, a Seattle Chamber Players concert. Runner-up: Seattle Chamber Players violinist Mikhail Schmidt's deadpan despair as Duykers grabbed and smashed his violin.

Most Quixotic Programming

Paul Jacobs played the complete organ works of "ornithologist and rhythmician" Olivier Messiaen at St. James Cathedral—nine hours of headily complex harmony and color in two recitals on consecutive nights. From memory.

Grandest Sound Bath

Renee Fleming singing Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" with the Seattle Symphony at its season-opening gala—the three most opulent minutes of the year. Runner-up: several dozen flutes surrounding the audience with out- of-sync chant in Henry Brant's Mass in Gregorian at Town Hall.

gborchert@seattleweekly.com

DANCE

Best House Tour

Jalopy, from glassbones, was everywhere in Hugo House last January, and so were we—our loopy hostess had us singing and tiptoeing up and down stairs, past tableaux and vignettes that were both disturbing and familiar.

Best Packrat Dance

33 Fainting Spells' Dayna Hanson has said the group is in danger of "being attacked by our own props," and Dirty Work last March was no exception, with paranoid behaviors set in a bizarre subterranean landscape consisting of aluminum cans and old record players.

Most Triumphant Example of Survival of the Fittest

Julie Worden accelerated from crawling to flying in Mark Morris' new "V" at Meany Hall, finishing in a lift with hair streaming behind and concisely illustrating Darwinian evolution.

Best Excuse to Look Elsewhere

Lynne Taylor-Corbett's faux folk dancing and self-conscious characters were at such odds with the authentic quality of the Pete Seeger score in the Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Ballad of You and Me that I spent most of my time looking at the social protest photographs projected above the dancers.

Best Home Movie

In The Amy Project, a local dance documentary, Kim Loop took a cute idea—interviews with dancers named Amy—beyond the gimmick, exploring how women associate their name with their artwork and themselves.

Best Proof That Everything Old Is New Again

In Singin' in the Rain at the Cinerama, Donald O'Connor's "Make 'Em Laugh" number read like an early version of b-boying.

skurtz@seattleweekly.com

 
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