Going Green

'Wicked' At the Schuster Center 'Wicked' At the Schuster Center

Theatre in Dayton had a very “green” 2010

By Brian P. Sharp

'Wicked' At the Schuster Center

By green, I don’t mean environmentally friendly. I do mean green with ‘wickedness.’ It would be difficult to start talking about this year in theatre without acknowledging the dollars that “Wicked” brought in to our community when it appeared on stage at the Schuster Center. We are lucky to have a performance hall big enough to allow these huge Broadway touring companies a stage in Dayton. Tickets went on sale early to groups – and then finally the general public was able to start purchasing single tickets. The houses were full … and the green was seen on stage, as well as throughout the Dayton community.

This year we have had many additional theatrical highlights. On the Victoria stage we saw “Spring Awakening” that stirred emotions in all of us. There was also the amazing partnership between Wright State University and the Human Race Theatre Company with their production of “August: Osage County.” And speaking of Human Race, we cannot forget the performance given by Kevin Moore in “Man of LaMancha.” This was certainly one of his finest performances. The Human Race also brought us “Ordinary Days” – a show with an outstanding cast that left you thinking.

The Dayton Opera had one of its finest performances when it produced “Porgy and Bess” on the Schuster stage. This moving production also included voices from Central State and Wilberforce Universities, as well as dancers from Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. It was amazing to see the audience jump to their feet at the curtain call.

On the community theatre stages, we saw some amazing things from the many volunteers. Early in the year we saw “Urinetown” at the Dayton Playhouse, directed by Doug Lloyd, a production that is still being talked about today. Who could forget Pam McGinnis buffing her nails with a toilet brush in “Urinetown”? We watched “Kimberly Akimbo,” directed by Saul Caplan at the Dayton Theatre Guild and watched as both of these shows earned many DayTony awards at the annual dinner. We saw an unforgettable Blake Senseman at the Dayton Theatre Guild during their production of “Sugar Witch.” We witnessed Saul Caplan as we have always wanted to see him as Max Bialystock in “The Producers” at the Dayton Playhouse. We saw sell out crowds and amazing voices in the Playhouse South production of “Rent.” Beavercreek Community Theatre entertained us with “Spitfire Grill.” another show directed by Doug Lloyd.

We also got to experience the 20th annual festival of new works – “FutureFest” – at the Dayton Playhouse, the annual event that brings in adjudicators from all over the country. The festival is the culmination of a years worth of work as hundreds of plays are submitted from writers all over the country. A committee reads them all, narrows them down to 12 and then another committee narrows them down to six. The festival takes place over one weekend. Six shows are produced in that one weekend. While it’s exhausting, there is nothing like it in any community theatre in the country. We can thank Dodie Lockwood and John Riley for bringing this great event to reality.

We got to watch as Fran Pesch and John Rensel were inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame -an honor that was well deserved. The evening at the Ponitz Center also included the DayTony awards for “Excellence in Theatre” from all over our community.

Then there are the things we saw … that we hope to never see again. Things like the attitude displayed by John Fiorillo, playwright of “Dancing Backwards,” a FutureFest production that ended with John disagreeing with the adjudication of his play.  Unfortunately, his same attitude continued the entire weekend. Additionally, there was the writer/director new musical produced at Clark State – some things are better left not produced. As I once overheard an older actress say, “I am just too old to sit through bad theatre.”

Let’s look forward to a great new year of theatre in Dayton.

Reach theatre critic Brian P. Sharp by emailing him at theatre@daytoncitypaper.com

Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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