Central Texas Theatre's Best of (Half of) 2012

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Central Texas Theatre's Best of (Half of) 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, it's a given that BroadwayWorld will reflect on all the fantastic theatrical productions and events that have entertained audiences all across America. Here in Central Texas, theater-goers had plenty to see in 2012. As a new resident of Austin, I sadly only got to enjoy the Central Texas theater scene for the last half of the year, but still all 49 productions I saw and reviewed in that short amount of time were delightful.

Here is a list of my favorite productions produced in Austin, San Antonio, San Marcos, and the surrounding areas during the last half of 2012. As all of the productions listed were spectacular, it proved impossible for me to rank them, so here they are presented in alphabetical order.

Congratulations to all of Central Texas's theatres, performers, and creative professionals on an astounding and successful year.

-Jeff Davis

Contributing Editor

1. Always...Patsy Cline

Georgetown, TX

Produced by Georgetown Palace Theatre

With its simple staging and excellent performances from skilled comedienne and storyteller Linda Brandshaw and Patsy doppelganger Yesenia McNett, Always...Patsy Cline turned this city slicker into a country music fan and solidified my fandom of the Georgetown Palace.

2. Baby

Austin, TX

Produced by Austin Theatre Project

Austin Theatre Project closed out its inaugural season with the forgotten musical, Baby. Filled with warmth and heart and backed by six fantastic leads, the show was phenomenal. We can all expect great things from Austin Theater Project in 2013. They already are a force to be reckoned with in Austin's theatre scene, and they've only just begun.

3. Chess

Austin, TX

Produced by SummerStock Austin and The Austin Playhouse

All three of SummerStock Austin's offerings this year were stellar, but Chess was the stand-out of the trio. While certainly more challenging that SummerStock Austin's other two shows, A Year with Frog and Toad and Legally Blonde, the young ensemble handled the material with a level of polish and professionalism that often goes, pardon the pun, unchecked.

4. A Chorus Line

Georgetown, TX

Produced by Georgetown Palace Theatre

With its direction and choreography by Broadway veterans Danny Herman and Rocker Verastique and its hard-working cast, Georgetown Palace's production of A Chorus Line holds a spot in my book as the best production of the show that I've ever seen, and I am certain my esteem of this intimate, visceral production will remain the same for years to come.

5. Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

Austin, TX

Produced by The City Theatre

While the dramedy by Ed Graczyk sometimes bites off more than it can chew regarding themes and subject matter, director Andy Berkovsky managed to keep The City Theatre's production on track, and his ensemble cast of women were nothing short of sensational.

6. Heaven-Earth-One

Austin, TX

Produced by Blue Lapis Light

Heaven-Earth-One was by far the best dance show I saw in Austin this year and quite frankly the best and most inventive dance show I've ever seen in my lifetime. The piece seamlessly blended movement, music, and the iconic architecture of The Long Center for the Performing Arts into a unique and unforgettable theatrical experience.

7. Into the Woods

San Marcos, TX

Produced by Texas State University - San Marcos

Into the Woods has always been one of my favorite musicals. It was my first introduction to the work of Stephen Sondheim, and I wrote a paper on the show in college. So when this self-proclaimed Sondheim snob dubbed this production the best Into the Woods he's ever seen live, that was indeed the highest praise I could give, and it still didn't feel adequate.

8. Miracle on 34th Street

Georgetown, TX

Produced by Georgetown Palace Theatre

With Miracle on 34th Street, Georgetown Palace had a miracle of their own. They managed to take this old, clunky, forgotten show by MerEdith Wilson and infused it with a strong dose of charm, wit, and humor. In their hands, this rarely-produced flop shined and sparkled.

9. Moonlight and Magnolias

Austin, TX

Produced by Penfold Theatre Company

Frankly, my dear, I'm still chuckling over this behind the scenes story of Gone with the Wind. The hijinks were an over-the-top laugh riot and a treat for everyone, even those not familiar with the classic film.

10. November

San Antonio, TX

Produced by The Playhouse - San Antonio

Just the word "November" is enough to make me smile and reminisce about The Playhouse's hysterical political satire about an unpopular president who abuses his power and clout in order to fund his campaign. It's a good think no elected officials are this corrupt [insert sarcasm here].

11. The Nutcracker

Austin, TX

Produced by Ballet Austin

Yes, The Nutcracker is as ubiquitous at this time of year as egg nog, but Ballet Austin's 50th annual production was glorious. The performances, choreography, and exquisite design all came together to create a memorable holiday treat.

12. Over the River and Through the Woods

Austin, TX

Produced by The City Theatre

There aren't many dramedies that can make me laugh, cry, and laugh again. This brilliantly casted show was one of them.

13. Pagliacci

Austin, TX

Produced by Austin Lyric Opera

Austin Lyric Opera's season opener was a grand, large-scale spectacle, and a pitch perfect one at that. I encourage everyone, including anyone new to opera who may be apprehensive about the art form, to visit Austin Lyric Opera later this year. I doubt you'd be disappointed.

14. Pride and Prejudice

Austin, TX

Produced by Austin Shakespeare

Austen came to Austin with a blissfully simple and beautiful adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Judging by the audience response, fans of the book and newcomers to the work of Jane Austen delighted at the production.

15. Ragtime

Austin, TX

Produced by ZACH Theatre

Ragtime was easily one of the most magical and memorable productions of the Austin theater season. ZACH inaugurated their new Topfer Theater with the epic American musical, and both the show and the new space were awe inspiring.

16. Rock of Ages

Austin, TX

National Tour, Long Center for the Performing Arts

Face-melting 80s rock may not be everyone's cup of tea (somewhere Tipper Gore is cringing), but the audience at the Long Center certainly ate it up. Even a stuck up critic like me found that the mixture of strippers, toilet humor, and rowdy music amounted to, as Bret Michaels and Poison would say, nothing but a good time.

17. Vampire Lesbians of Sodom

Austin, TX

Produced by City Theatre

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom was a campy, gaudy show with performances that were more over the top than Cher's makeup. Naturally audiences, myself included, ate up the sidesplittingly funny treat.

18. 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

San Antonio, TX

Produced by Woodlawn Theatre

While it was their production of Next to Normal that introduced Woodlawn's new creative direction, it was Spelling Bee that truly made audiences take notice. The fearless and ferociously funny cast and strong direction by Dave Cortez made this one of the best musicals Central Texas saw this year.

19. You Can't Take it With You

Austin, TX

Produced by Different Stages

Sometimes it's nice to recall simpler times when family was more important and cherished. Different Stages helped us remember those times with the 1930s classic, You Can't Take it With You. The show was simple and heartwarming, thanks in large part to the incomparable ensemble cast.

20. Xanadu

Austin, TX

Produced by ZACH Theatre

The 1980s film Xanadu is anything but enjoyable. Certainly the only enjoyable thing about the movie is how bad and campy it is. ZACH's production capitalized on the campiness and lovingly skewered the movie. The show was glitzy, brilliant, and hysterical and earned an extended run.

So that's the curtain, my friends. Thank you to all of the artists and audiences in Central Texas for making this a season to remember. See you all in 2013!

More Austin! More...


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