The best plays and best performances I saw last season

In 2011-2012, we got theater that money couldn’t buy.

In this provocative article, my erstwhile colleague Chad Bauman lamented the fact that our Helen Hayes Awards – like the Tonys and many other recognition programs, including the DCTS Audience Choice Awards – make no distinction between companies which have a huge budget to produce their shows and those with little or no access to funds.

Tim Treanor

Bauman pointed out that of the 25 productions recognized as outstanding resident play or musical by the Helen Hayes over the last decade, none (save, possibly, Synetic’s Hamlet) was from a company with an annual operating budget of less than a million. Of the 25 outstanding directors of a resident play or musical, only one went to a company with a budget of less than a million. And among the outstanding resident actors and actresses, only 17% came from small theaters.

In making these irrefutable observations, Bauman joined many other local theater thought leaders, including the Post’s Nelson Pressley and many of Bauman’s 29 commenters, most of whom are theater professionals.

So I know this is a minority report.

The fault is not with our star systems, but with ourselves. And by ourselves I mean critics, judges, and anyone else who sits outside the fictive dream – the conspiracy of story which the playwright and the actors have invited the audience to join – in order to assess and pass judgment on what is laid before them.

It is possible to scrunch up in your chair, all purse-lipped and snootyfaced, your notebook at the ready – the critic, the judge – prepared to say “oh, yes, that was quite a bon mot, let me write that down; too bad the spotlight was a little off, I’ll mark that down half a point,” but that’s not the way to watch theater. The way to watch theater is the same way as the way theater is performed.

The actor walks into the dressing room an hour before curtain. He is a month and a half behind in his rent, and has sixty thousand in student loans to pay off. He is worried that his wife may be pregnant, knowing that they can’t afford to have a kid. He’s afraid his lower left molar is abscessed.  He has no dental insurance. But in sixty minute’s time, none of that will matter because he will no longer be himself. He will be a man with a different set of problems: his father is dead and his usurping uncle has married his mother; his father has appeared in ghost form and revealed that the usurper has murdered him, and cried out for vengeance, which only he, Hamlet, formerly an actor, can render.

So it is with us: we are the final collaborators of a dream spun by the playwright, the director, and the actors. We enter the theater forty-five minutes later and – without utterance or paper – sign a contract to accept the play’s givens and go where they take us. We sever all contact with the outside world (“please turn off your cell phone”).  If our howling boss wishes to talk to us in order to assuage his own insecurities; if our adult children are seeking us out in order to whine, or borrow money; it is of no moment. We are no longer in this time and place. We are in Denmark, in the eleventh century.

We enter into the evening’s assumptions as avidly, and with the same generosity of spirit, as if we were entering a love affair. We look into the blazing soul of the piece. If some of the exterior is imperfect, we ignore it.

Afterward, on the Metro or back in our homes, we ask each other, “why did he assume the man hidden in his mother’s bedchamber was Claudius? And why did he try to kill him then, when he could have killed him minutes earlier, at prayer?” We’re not talking about the sore-jawed actor, who murdered Polonius because the script required it, but Lord Prince Hamlet, who for the course of three hours was as real to us as our own children.

In this fictive dream, it does not matter if there is a million-dollar set or dizzying special effects. If there are none, our imaginations will supply them. In fact, a fabulous set may work a disadvantage. Two of the greatest sets I have ever seen were done by the Shakespeare Theatre Company; Simon Higlett’s astonishing foyer is, alas, the only thing I can remember with certainty from An Ideal Husband, and James Noone’s sets for Noel Coward’s mean-spirited Design for Living were so beautiful that I could have easily spent an hour or two looking at them, without the inconvenience of the play.

In the usual instance, of course, an expensive set allows the audience member to work her imagination less vigorously. But the imagination can be a more effective tool than a big budget, if we let it – that is to say, if we hold up our part of the collaboration.

Big money can also obtain better actors, or at least more celebrated ones, but the state of the acting art is so high now – forty thousand MFAs in acting every year – that we can expect to find amazing performances wherever we go. On the one end, of course, we have community theater, where actors are paid nothing, and on the other, Spider-man the Musical, with a budget which approached that of a mid-size movie. But the best show I saw in this year’s Fringe was staged by a community theater, and Spider-man – well, you know how that worked out.

Audience Choice Award voters get it. Past winners such as Forum’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot or Edward Daniels from Taffety Punk’s Burn Your Bookes came from small theaters, on limited budgets. It didn’t matter to our voters. Those artists had created a fictive dream that the audience could enter, and they did. You don’t have to be a small, low-budget theater to create great work. But it’s not an insurmountable barrier, either.

I submit that in evaluating the best work done in theater in this town, or any other, we have asked the wrong question. What we should be asking is this: “Did it make you cry? Did it make you laugh? Did it fill you with lust or rage or disgust? Or – best of all – did it bring you to understanding? Where the answer is yes, give them top grades. It doesn’t matter what you give the rest.”


These folks got my top grades:

Best Plays I saw in 2011-2012

10. Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, Woolly Mammoth. Anne Washburn’s outrageous story asks what memories we would take with us, if some catastrophe swept our civilization away. Her preposterous answer: an episode of “The Simpsons”, which we would repurpose as our creation myth. Outrageous! Preposterous! And I believed every minute of it.

9. The Big Meal, Studio. Dan LeBlanc compresses eighty years into eighty minutes, as we watch two relentlessly ordinary people become lovers, spouses, parents, grandparents, surrounded by all the people who make up their lives. It is the human drama and the human comedy; rendered lovingly and without a hint of artificiality of condescension, and performed with the precision of a ballet.

8. Side Man, 1st Stage. Let me defer to a guest commentator – Terry Teachout, theater critic for the Wall Street Journal, who sees plays all over the country, all year:

“1st Stage, a four-year-old theater company located in a suburban strip mall not far from Washington, has given it a revival that is no less deserving of comparison to the original New York production…. Michael Dove has directed ‘Side Man’ with fully comprehending exactitude—he must have hung out with a lot of musicians—and Steven Royal’s barroom-and-tenement set exudes the stale air of the scuffler’s life…. 1st Stage is well on its way to establishing itself as a significant player on the Washington-area theater scene.”

7. Imagining Madoff, Theater J. Playwright Deb Margolin took some heat, deservedly, for involving Nobel Laureate Eli Weisel as a character in the original iteration of this play. In this version, the beautifully fictional Solomon Galkin takes a fatal ride with the arch-criminal Bernard Madoff in a story which tells us the truth about lying, and, in a tale which recalls Othello, why we are so eager to believe.

6. Spring Awakening, Keegan Theatre. Washington’s quintessential neighborhood theater squeezed every ounce of juice out of this compelling, Tony-winning musical. Directors Mark and Susan Rhea, no less that Frank Wedekind, Steven Slater and Duncan Sheik, got it: this is a play about what happens when you lie to an entire generation about what is happening to their own bodies. A beautiful production of an astounding musical.

5. Ann, pesented by the Kennedy Center. Taylor Holland’s one-actor resurrection of the late Texas governor Ann Richards helped us to understand not only the one-term liberal Democratic Governor of an overwhelmingly conservative Republican State, but the nature of politics itself, and how to exuberantly transcend over adversity.

4. Civilization (all you can eat), Woolly Mammoth. Jason Grote told his story in dribs and drabs, so that we came to understanding slowly, and with the horrible gravity of a death sentence.  Like “Catch-22” or John Barth’s “Letters”, when this play finally put itself together, it delivered an icicle to the heart. In this flawlessly acted piece, a hog broke out of his pork-chop destiny and became a financier…teaching us that pigs are not what we are; pigs are what we aspire to be.

3. Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Arena Stage. Imagine that a dictatorial regime grabs the greatest writer of his day – or any other – and commissions him to write a cover story for a politically-motivated massacre. Bill Cain did, and we are the better for it. Father Cain’s narrative morphed into serial drafts of the play that eventually became Macbeth and then morphed out again into real life – an extraordinarily challenging exercise but one to which the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s all-star cast was the equal.

2. A Bright New Boise, Woolly Mammoth. A man, a religious believer that the end of the world is near, stands in the middle of an empty parking lot in front of an empty store in the middle of his empty life and bellows “Now! Now! Now!” and we see in an instant that the Rapture – the Apocalypse – is not a moment of fear for him but the only hope in his miserable life.  Woolly’s production of Samuel D. Hunter’s brilliant script provided Michael Russotto with the role of his life (so far!) but was also filled with a dozen other amazing touches, my favorite being a stunningly inane in-store television station which broadcasted twenty-four hours a day, except when it inexplicably switched to the gory Surgery Channel. Another great year for Woolly!

1. The Heir Apparent, Shakespeare Theatre Company. This is commedia, eh? An impecunious young man seeks to wed a beautiful woman, but cannot do it until his uncle, an ancient, miserly crank, finally kicks the bucket and leaves him his money. But the great David Ives, with his hands firmly around the carcass of an early 18th-century play by Jean-Francois Regnard, turned out something so much better: a 130-minute poem, with rhymes so bold and inventive that audience gasped when they were uttered. The cast was so adept with this particular motif that when they brought a live pig on stage (she’s in comfortable retirement at Serenity Farms, by the way) you half-expected the animal to complete a couplet. The Heir Apparent was full of Three Stooges-style slapstick and reflected the conventions of British Farce, but the fact was that while these great actors were on stage you believed it. No wonder the Shakespeare Theatre Company won the Regional Tony award for 2012.

The Fantastics: Great Performances I Saw in 2011-2012

I saw 83 shows this season, not counting Festivals and Fringe and out-of-town, and on 166 occasions I was compelled to utter “Holy cow!” or some other expletive, and take names. Here were the very best of the best.

10. Chorus (Anna Brungardt, James Finley, Kari Ginsburg, Christin Green, Behzad Habibzai, Heather Haney, Jon Jon Johnson, Jase Parker, JR Russ and Mundy Spears), The Bacchae, WSC Avant Bard. It is impossible to single out performances from this otherworldly chorus, but we ended up being treated to the equivalent of a Pagan High Mass, thanks to the gorgeous musical invention of Mariano Vales and these wonderful voices. Some of the play’s ancient perspective is inaccessible to us now, but thanks to this fabulous chorus we can understand the shivering joy of the ancient religion.

9. Ali Hoxie, Wendla Bergman, Spring Awakening, Keegan Theatre. Hoxie tore through convention to give us a Wendla we could not only believe, but one we could understand – and by understanding her, understand the play. Where another production might have made Wendla fall in love with Melchior before they had sex, Keegan’s, and Hoxie’s, Wendla blundered into her sexual enterprise with Melchior out of ignorance, which was Frank Wedekind’s whole point, more than a hundred years ago. Her spot-on interpretation of her character, along with her fabulous voice, made Hoxie’s performance one of the best I saw this year.

8. Jeff Keilholz, Teach, American Buffalo, Maryland Ensemble Theatre. Keilholz gave us a brilliantly complete version of one of the classic characters of the American Stage – layered, complex, full of tics. Keilholz’s Teach was a sweet man full of impotent rage, a loser with delusions of adequacy. Keilholz emphasized not the character’s nuclear fury but his confused ineptness. That was the right choice. How do I know? Because Mike Nussbaum, who played Teach in the original Chicago production, told me so.

7. Brooks Ashmanskas, John Adams, 1776, Ford’s Theatre. Ever since Howard Da Silva’s stunning performance as Franklin in this show’s original, Tony Award-winning production, productions have shined the spotlight on the most quotable of the founding fathers, rather than on John Adams. Ford’s, and Ashmanskas, put Adams back where he belonged. 1776 was the story of a man who was a failure – of limited emotional responsiveness, unlikeable, humorless – except for one thing: he made it possible for us to be free. Ashmanskas delivered every cubic centimeter of this man’s steely determination, and allowed us to see why John Adams was at the center of history.

6. Michael Russotto, Will, A Bright New Boise, Woolly Mammoth. Over the last two years Russotto has brought up his game considerably, so that he is now one of the Washington-area actors whose presence in a play by itself is sufficient to justify buying a ticket. In this heartbreaking story Russotto was at his best, playing a good man whose wild and desolate beliefs reflected the pain and emptiness in his soul. Playing off the sad and angry characters who inhabit the play with him, Russotto’s Will seemed like the very definition of good-hearted reasonableness; faced with the loss of his son, we see how wounded he really was. A bravura performance.

5. Mike Nussbaum, Solomon Galkin, Imagining Madoff, Theater J. On a stage full of first-rate actors, Nussbaum brought this wonderful play to life. As the gnomish, delightful Galkin, a Rabbi and poet who had entrusted his congregation’s, and his own, personal wealth to the infamous Bernard Madoff, Nussbaum made it possible for us to understand how Madoff’s preposterous scam could have worked. Nussbaum’s Galkin radiated a life force so powerful that it seemed to blot out Madoff’s perpetual darkness. I suppose I should mention at this point that when Nussbaum performed the role, he was eighty-nine years old.

4. Thomas Adrian Simpson, Professor Von Golum, The Boy Detective Fails, Signature Theatre. Because Simpson’s specialty appears to be musical theater acting, rather than pure voice, he may not have so far received the recognition he deserved. But his performance in this flawed but intriguing and beautifully-rendered new musical was just too good for us to ignore. Boy Detective was a boy’s story out of the Hardy Boys tradition brought into real life, with its failures and disappointments; Professor Von Golum was a super-criminal now reduced to a sputtering old man, institutionalized but with dreams of imperial glory. Simpson had to dance along a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous; he did so beautifully.

3. Lee Mikeska Gardner, Terry Glimmer, Side Man, 1st Stage. Teachout said that she was as good as Edie Falco in this role; to me, when she is at her best (as she was here), she reminds me of Streep. “Crazy” Terry is a fantastically difficult role, in that she is not crazy in the sense meant by the DSM-IV, but still as volatile as a gasoline milkshake at a cigar smoker’s convention. When she did the most mundane of actions – preparing food for her skittish ex, for example – you could almost see her skin vibrate with fear and anxiety; when she was over-the-top – as the scene in which she was attempting to jump out her apartment window – you could see her eyes shift as she calculated her happy ending. Any of you who have ever known such a person (or been such a person) could see it again in this performance.

2. Floyd King, Geronte, The Heir Apparent, the Shakespeare Theatre. Floyd King occasionally teaches comedy. With The Heir Apparent, school was in. From the very first moment Geronte appeared, stern, bewigged and ridiculous, he set the stage on fire, and his antic hi-jinks left us helpless with laughter. He handled David Ives’ rhyming dialogue with ease; and although his character was a preposterous man acting under preposterous circumstances, he made us believe in Geronte. Thanks to King, we saw him for what he was: a man aware of the power which his position gave him, and of almost nothing else. I have probably seen King in two dozen roles over the years; I have never seen him better than this.

1. Rick Foucheux, Nate Miller, Ah, Wilderness!, Arena Stage.  Eugene O’Neill’s only acknowledged comedy is seriously out of date, with its Catholic-schoolboy sexual guilt and its young Swinbourne-quoting protagonist. But Foucheux, as his father, accomplished a miracle: he created a man who would be as at home in the twenty-first century as he was in the nineteenth. Foucheux’s Nate Miller was strong and gentle, witty and kind, the kind of man who knew sin and the forgiveness of sins. For half the audience, he reminded them of their father; for the other half, they wished their father was like him.

Ten other performances too great to ignore:

11. David Deblinger, Jerry Siegel, The History of Invulnerability, Theater J

12. Robert Stanton, Charles Marsden, Strange Interlude, Shakespeare Theatre

13. John Tufts, multiple roles, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival produced at Arena Stage

14. Ray Ficca, Max Prince, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Keegan Theatre

15. Holland Taylor, Ann Richards, Ann, produced at the Kennedy Center

16. Kevin Hassar, Rev. Jose, Church, Forum Theatre

17. Paul Scanlan, Mortiz, Spring Awakening, Keegan Theatre

18. Jason Lott, multiple roles, The 39 Steps, Olney

19. Kate Norris, Kate, The Taming of the Shrew, Folger

20. Bruce Alan Raucher, Johnny Friendly/Father Miller, On the Waterfront, American Century Theater

Honorable Mention:

Nora Achrati, Rev. Nora, Church, Forum Theatre; Josh Adams, multiple roles, The Big Meal, Studio; Kevin Adams, Juror No. 4, Twelve Angry Men, Keegan; Charlie Ainsworth, servant, The Mandrake, Faction of Fools; Patrick Anderson, Ken, Red, Arena Stage;  Ian Armstrong, multiple roles, How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found, Theater Alliance; Fred Arsenault, Alec, The Book Club Play, Arena;

Sara Barker, Mistress Silence, The Mistorical Hystery of Henry (I)V, WSC Avant Bard; Sherry Berg, Charlotte, Flora the Red Menace, 1st Stage; Sheldon Best, Leon, Sucker Punch, Studio Theatre; Brooke Bloom, W, Lungs, Studio Theatre; Blair Bowers, Rev. Blair, Church, Forum Theatre; Joe Brack, multiple roles, Astro Boy and the God of Comics, Studio Theatre; Charlie Brady, Sonny Malone, Xanadu, Signature; Maya Bretell, multiple roles, The Big Meal, Studio; Rena Cherry Brown, Vivian Bering, Wit, Bay Theatre; Will Burton, Tommy Djilas, The Music Man, Arena Stage;  Patrick Bussink, Clifford Glimmer, Side Man, 1st Stage; E. Faye Butler, Wiletta Mayer, Trouble in Mind, Arena;

Evan Casey, Cooper, Really Really, Signature; Evan Casey, multiple roles, The 39 Steps, Olney; Amie Cazel, Olive Ostrovsky, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Workhouse Theatre; Noah Chiet, Joel, The History of Invulnerability, Theater J; Edward Christian, Resten, The Language Archives, Forum Theatre; Andrea Cirie, Romaine Vole, Witness for the Prosecution, Olney;  Robert Cuccioli, John Dickenson, 1776, Ford’s Theatre; Lauren Culpepper, Grace, Really Really, Signature;

Michael Kevin Darnell, Constantine, Big Love, Hub; Sun King Davis, Al, Side Man, 1st Stage; Aisha de Haas, multiple roles, Josephine Tonight, MetroStage; Joshua Dick, George Horvath, Parfumerie, 1st Stage; Natascia Diaz, Anastasia, Brother Russia, Signature; Nick Dillenburg, Proteus, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare Theatre; George Dvorsky, Baron von Trapp, The Sound of Music, Olney;

Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Jonesy, Side Man, 1st Stage; Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Takatsuki/Katagiri, after the quake, Rorschach; Richard Elmore, Father Garnet, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Arena Stage; Carson Elrod, Crispin, The Heir Apparent, Shakespeare Theatre; Ricardo Frederick Evans, Hercules, Hercules in Russia, Doorway Arts;

Francesca Faridany, Nina Leeds, Strange Interlude, Shakespeare Theatre; Andrew Ferlo, Lev, Hercules in Russia, Doorway Arts; Rick Foucheux, Bernard Madoff, Imagining Madoff, Theater J;

James Gardiner, Biondello, The Taming of the Shrew, Folger;  Kristen Garaffo, Olympia, Big Love, Hub; Will Garthshore, Jeff, The Religion Thing, Signature; Danny Gavigan, Jimmy, Really Really, Signature; Chris Genebach, multiple roles, The Big Meal, Studio; Ed Gero, Mark Rothko, Red, Arena; Tim Getman, Superman, The History of Invulnerability, Theater J; Kimberly Gilbert, Jenny, Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Woolly Mammoth; Kimberly Gilbert, Patti, The Religion Thing, Signature;  Megan Graves, multiple roles, after the quake, Rorschach; Megan Graves, Wendy Darling, Peter Pan, The Boy Who Hated Mothers, No Rules Theatre Company;

Jay Hardee, multiple roles, Something Past in Front of the Light, Longacre Lea; Jay Hardee, Prince Hal, The Mistorical Hystery of Henry (I)V, WSC Avant Bard; Jonathan Haugen, Sir Robert Cecil, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival at Arena Stage; Mitchell Hébert, George, The Language Archive, Forum; Christopher Henley, Falstaff, The Mistorical Hystery of Henry (I)V, WSC Avant Bard;  Chris Henley, Richard Widener, Something Past in Front of the Light, Longacre Lea; Rachael Holmes, Lily, The Book Club Play, Arena; Annie Houston, multiple roles, The Big Meal, Studio; John Hurt, Krapp, Krapp’s Last Tape, Gate Theatre at Shakespeare Theatre;

Michael Innocenti, Ira, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Keegan; Michael Innocenti, Juror No. 7, Twelve Angry Men, Keegan; Ashley Ivey, multiple roles, Mad Forest, Forum Theatre

Genevieve James, Cassius, An Adaptation of Julius Caesar, Molotov Theatre Group; Tad James, Donnie, American Buffalo, Maryland Ensemble Theatre; Nehal Joshi, Marcellus, The Music Man, Arena Stage; David Jourdan, Juror No. 3, Twelve Angry Men, Keegan;

Daren Kelly, Bill O’Wray, Trouble in Mind, Arena; Jaime Kelton, Sally, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Olney; Vincent Kempski, Melchior, Spring Awakening, Keegan; Ryan King, H, Lungs, Studio Theatre; James Konicek, Hugh Dorsey, Parade, Ford’s and Theater J; Doug Kreeger, Rasputin, Brother Russia, Signature Theatre;  Hannah Kritzeck, daughter, Mabou Mines’ Dollhouse, Kennedy Center; Eben Kuhns, multiple roles, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Workhouse Theatre;

Susan Lasko, Abigail Williams, The Crucible, Keegan; Monica Lejewski, Janet McKenzie, Witness for the Prosecution, Olney; John Lescault, Brother Russia, Brother Russia, Signature Theatre; Ian LeValley, Charles Lang, The Water Engine, Spooky Action; Dana Levanovsky, Lucia, Mad Forest, Forum Theatre; Marty Lodge, Al Manners, Trouble in Mind, Arena; Jason Lott, All Roles, Wonderful Life, Hub Theatre; Janet Luby, Becky Foster, Becky’s New Car, Bay Theatre;  Susan Lynskey, multiple roles, The 39 Steps, Olney;

Liz Mamana, Mo, The Religion Thing, Signature; Chris Mancusi, Gene Glimmer, Side Man, 1st Stage; Sarah Marshall, Baptista, The Taming of the Shrew, Folger; Sarah Marshall, Big Hog, Civilization (all you can eat), Woolly Mammoth; Julia Massey, Michael, Peter Pan, Wolf Trap;   Hyla Matthews, multiple roles, The Big Meal, Studio; Kevin McAllister, various roles, Parade, Ford’s and Theater J;  Sean Meehan, Michael, Civilization (all you can eat), Woolly Mammoth; Kathryn Meisle, Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare Theatre; Eric Messner, John, John & Beatrice, Hub Theatre; Joshua Morgan, Alex, A Bright New Boise, Woolly Mammoth; Euan Morton, Launce, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare Theatre; Clayton Myers, Bobby, American Buffalo, Maryland Theatre Ensemble; Dylan Myers, Charlie/Adam, How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found, Theater Alliance; Dylan Myers, Super-Frog, after the quake, Rorschach;

Cody Nickell, Petruchio, The Taming of the Shrew, Folger; Kate Eastwood Norris, Ana, The Book Club Play, Arena;

Gannon O’Brien, Hanschen, Spring Awakening, Keegan; Sam O’Brien, multiple roles, The Big Meal, Studio; Tracy Lynn Olivera, Mother Abbess (understudy role), The Sound of Music, Olney;

Roger Payano, Othello, Othello, Synetic; Mary Payne, Rona Lisa Paretti, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Workhouse Theatre; Casie Platt, Jade, Civilization (all you can eat), Woolly Mammoth; Jack Powers, Wayne, Carol’s Christmas, Pinky Swear;

Kerry Rambow, multiple roles, The Language Archive, Forum Theatre; Nigel Reed,  Steve, Becky’s New Car, Bay Theatre; Paul Reisman, multiple roles, Romeo and Juliet, Faction of Fools; Mark Rhea, John Proctor, The Crucible, Keegan; Mark Rhea, Juror No. 10, Twelve Angry Men, Keegan Theatre; Kathy Rigby, Peter Pan, Peter Pan, Wolf Trap;  Nancy Robinette, Essie Miller, Ah, Wilderness!, Arena Stage;  Ian Blackwell Rogers, Tom Jones (adult), Tom Jones, Lumina Studio; Erica Rose, Quincy, Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Woolly Mammoth; Steve Rosen, Matt, Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Woolly Mammoth;

Louise Schlegel, Sarah Featherstone, The Gallerist, Rorschach; Cole Sebastian, Blifil (child), Tom Jones, Lumina Studio; Scott Seder, Oberman, The Water Engine, Spooky Action; Bradley Smith, Val, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Keegan; Derek Smith, Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare Theatre; Stephen Gregory Smith, Corny Collins, Hairspray, Signature; Jenna Sokolowski, April White, Savage in Limbo, MetroStage; Mundy Spears, Nurse Monahan, Wit, Bay Theatre;

Dalia Taylor, Winnie, Happy Days, WSC Avant Bard; Emily Townley, Pauline, A Bright New Boise, Woolly Mammoth; Tony Tsendaes, all roles, The Poe Show, Rep Stage; Holly Twyford, Tranio, The Taming of the Shrew, Folger;

Ted van Griethuysen, the actor playing W.H. Auden, The Habit of Art, Studio Theatre; Jjana Valentiner, Patsy, Side Man, 1st Stage; Andrew Veenstra, Eraste, The Heir Apparent, Shakespeare Theatre; Andrew Veenstra, Valentine, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare Theatre; Zurin Villanueva, Josephine Baker, Josephine Tonight, MetroStage;

Erin Weaver, Clio, Xanadu, Signature; Dre Weeks, Sophia (adult), Tom Jones, Lumina Studio; Paxton Whitehurst, the actor playing Benjamin Britten, The Habit of Art, Studio Theatre; Alyssa Wilmoth, Sara, Stop Kiss, No Rules Theatre Company; Matthew R. Wilson, Ligurio, The Mandrake, Faction of Fools; Harry Winter, Danny Maguire/Zeus, Xanadu, Signature;

Chuck Young, Gross, The Water Engine, Spooky Action

Rachel Zampelli, Baba Yaga, Brother Russia, Signature Theatre; Rachel Zampelli, Callie, Stop Kiss, No Rules Theatre Company

Click this image to follow the 2012 Audience Choice Awards.    


Tim Treanor About Tim Treanor

Tim Treanor is a senior writer for DC Theatre Scene. He is a 2011 Fellow of the National Critics Institute and has written over 600 reviews for DCTS. His novel, "Capital City," with Lee Hurwitz, is scheduled for publication by Astor + Blue in November of 2016. He lives in a log home in the woods of Southern Maryland with his dear bride, DCTS Editor Lorraine Treanor. For more Tim Treanor, go to


  1. great list!  great article!

    one quick correction:

    Liz Mamana, Mo, The Religion Thing, Signature …it was actually at Theatre J not Signature.  Liz is a colleague and fellow UVa Alumni.  She was brilliant in that play, but it was at Theatre J.  : ) 

  2. DC Theatre Scene is the premiere authority in the assessment and evaluation of all-things-theatre within the DC metropolitan (and surrounding) area. I look to this site all of the time as my first and foremost guide to the arts. What this organization achieves, in its yearly output, is beyond compare. An online, arts-review institution; is DC Theatre Scene. Don’t leave home without it.



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