Hilton Als, the esteemed theatre critic for The New Yorker magazine, just released his list of 10 best performances of the year. The list – which includes stage, television and cabaret performances – includes Cherry Jones for Mrs. Warren’s Profession, cabaret performer Meow Meow, and Khandi Alexander in her role as LaDonna Batiste-Williams in HBO’s series “Treme”.
But, Als gave the #10 spot to “The entire cast of Oklahoma! at Arena Stage. A production that needs to be seen by larger audiences because it offers spectators a chance to see themselves, which is to say that all the actors look like real people, and are so winning in their various effects, they remind one of what naturalism meant, certainly on stage: unaffected expression of joy and pain. The artists involved in this production made theatre less a cultural event than a shared one; when the performers soared, we did, too.”
The opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater has drawn writers from around the country. Among them was Hilton Als, who it seems, only rarely leaves New York. Als covered the two productions which opened the new Arena Stage facility in his column titled ‘America, America’ , published in the Dec 13th issue of The New Yorker.
Reporting on both every tongue confess “[Playwright Marcus] Gardley has been working toward his own glory, which is not as florid a phrase as it might seem, given that he traffics in lush images and plots that are as mysterious and surprising as forced flowers blossoming in winter.” In giving high accolades to Oklahoma!‘s director Molly Smith and the cast, he concluded” [the audience] was as moved as I was by the humility and hope that Smith and her company brought to the show.”
Today was also a big day for one member of the Oklahoma! cast. Peter Marks wrote a feature on June Schreiner, the 16 year old from Reston, VA who plays Ado Annie. How does she manage to keep up with her studies at the Madeira School? She gets help with her homework from cast members.
The Arena Stage production of Oklahoma! has sold out for the run. Call the box office 202-488-3300 for last minute cancellations.