BEST OF 2015 by Chris Gibson

Chris Gibson's best of 2015 in St. Louis.

My lists for the best plays/musicals in St. Louis is in chronological order. I'm not limiting myself to any specific number of entries either. These are simply the best productions and performances in various categories that I witnessed during a packed year filled with companies closing and new ones opening. It continues to be a great time to be a theater-goer in our town, with many, many choices of quality shows available for your viewing pleasure on any given day or evening. My favorite show among all these selections just might be Upstream Theater's THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER. My son and I attended, and were simply delighted by the mix of music and drama occurring on stage. It was a magical experience that I was able to share with my then nine year old little boy, and we both highly recommend that you check out the band Sleepy Kitty.

Best Musicals 2015

JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA - New Line Theatre

THE LITTLE PRINCE - COCA Theatre Company

THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD - Stray Dog Theatre

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND -The Black Rep

MY MOTHER'S LESBIAN JEWISH WICCAN WEDDING - The New Jewish Theatre

THE THREEPENNY OPERA - New Line Theatre

SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE - STAGES St. Louis

BUDDY - THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY - The MUNY

INTO THE WOODS - The MUNY

OKLAHOMA! - The MUNY

ANYTHING GOES - STAGES St. Louis

THE FULL MONTY - STAGES St. Louis

HEATHERS - New Line Theatre

DOGFIGHT - Stray Dog Theatre

ALL IS CALM - Mustard Seed Theatre

It would be a hard to choose a best musical overall, but ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, INTO THE WOODS, HEATHERS, THE THREEPENNY OPERA, ANYTHING GOES, and DOGFIGHT were all amazing productions, and I particularly enjoyed BUDDY - THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY.

Best Plays where music played a key role in its production, while not actually being a musical, so to speak

THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER - Upstream Theater, with music by Sleepy Kitty

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND - Stray Dog Theatre

Best Youth Oriented Plays/Musical

AFFLICTED: DAUGHTERS OF SALEM - Metro Theatre Company

THE LITTLE PRINCE - COCA Theatre Company

ONE SUMMER ON SECOND STREET - Circus Flora

THE ARISTOCATS - STAGES St. Louis

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST- The MUNY

Great time to be a kid with all these cool choices.

Best New Plays

WHITE TO GRAY - Mustard Seed Theatre

AN INVITATION OUT - Mustard Seed Theatre

Neil Labute's KANDAHAR - St. Louis Actors' Studio

SUBLIME INTIMACY - Max and Louie Productions

All worthy productions and all worth checking out!

Best Dramas

SAFE HOUSE - Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

IMAGINING MADHOFF - The New Jewish Theatre

BASHIR LAZHAR - Upstream Theater

THE WINSLOW BOY - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER - Upstream Theater

THE PILLOWMAN - Theatre Lab

DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD - Stray Dog Theatre

THE AMISH PROJECT - Mustard Seed Theatre

ALL THE WAY - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

DE KUS/THE KISS - Upstream Theater

I AND YOU - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

All great plays, but SAFE HOUSE, THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER, THE AMISH PROJECT, and I AND YOU were simply superlative!

Best Comedies

GOD OF CARNAGE - Stray Dog Theatre

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? - St. Louis Actors' Studio

BUYER & CELLAR - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE - Max & Louie Productions

THE SUNSHINE BOYS - The New Jewish Theatre

BAD JEWS - The New Jewish Theatre

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER - The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

THE GIN GAME - St. Louis Actors' Studio

DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND - Stray Dog Theatre

All great comedies in their own unique ways, but PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is a riot!

Best Dance Production

WALLSTORIES - MADCO

Simply incredible combination of dance, powerful images, and the music of Pink Floyd.

Best Concerts

Ricky Skaggs, Ry Cooder and Sharon White - The Sheldon

Smokey Robinson and Mario Frangoulis - The Peabody Opera House

Best Touring Production

MATILDA THE MUSICAL at The Fabulous Fox - an eye-popping blast!

Best Actor(s) in a Musical

Brent DiRoma, for pulling triple duty with SMOKEY JOE'S CAFE, ANYTHING GOES, and THE FULL MONTY at STAGES St. Louis. Todd Schaefer also impressed in THE THREEPENNY OPERA for New Line Theatre.

Best Actress(es) in a Musical

Anna Skidis for HEATHERS, a truly wonderful performance that blew me away. Julie Cardia was also exceptional in ANYTHING GOES.

Best Actor(s) in a Drama

J. Samuel Davis is simply heart-breaking in BASHIR LAZHAR, and Bryan Dykstra compels with his work as LBJ in ALL THE WAY. Jerry Vogel also provided us with great portrayals in RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER and IMAGINING MADHOFF.

Best Actress in a Drama

Amy Loui for her multifaceted tour-de-force performance in THE AMISH PROJECT.

Best Actress(es) in a Comedy

Lavonne Byers for her wicked turn in THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE - just outstanding! Em Piro was delightfully over the top in BAD JEWS, as well. Sarajane Alverson delivered great work too in GOD OF CARNAGE and DEVIL BOYS FROM BEYOND

Best Actor(s) in a Comedy

Michael Juncal and Stephen Peirick both draw kudos for GOD OF CARNAGE for Stray Dog Theatre, and so does Jeremy Webb for BUYER & CELLAR, and Peter Mayer filled in admirably in THE GIN GAME and THE SUNSHINE BOYS.

Best Director(s) of a Musical

Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy do consistently wonderful work at New Line Theatre, and so do Michael Hamilton and Stephen Bourneuf at Stages, and that's not meant to slight the work many excellent directors have done this year at The MUNY.

Best Director(s) of a Drama

Melissa Maxwell did great work with SAFE HOUSE, as did Philip Boehm with BASHIR LAZHAR, Jane Page with I AND YOU, and Deanna Jent with THE AMISH PROJECT, and how could I forget Patrick Siler for THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER.

Best Director(s) of a Comedy

Blake Robison's fine job with PETER AND THE STARCATCHER was thrilling and funny. Gary Bell's direction of GOD OF CARNAGE was also very well done.

So, there you have it. These were my favorites for 2015. Looking forward to even more terrific shows in 2016! Go see a play!

Photo credit: Peter Wochniak




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