Best Of Tucson®

Best Local Theatre Production (since 7/98)

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Tucson Community Theatre

READERS' PICK: Shakespeare's comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, was given an excellent open-air showing in Tucson Parks and Recreation's Shakespeare Under The Stars series. Directed by Pima Community College faculty Chris Wilken, the show was uncompromising on the Bard's luxurious language while playing broadly to the slapstick comedy favored from Elizabethan to contemporary times. Using a consummate cast of Tucson regulars, and some of the UA's finest up-and-coming thespians, the production showcased Shakespeare as public art, with excellent lighting and sound to boot. The well-attended free shows in the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Reid Park proved there's no lack of a large and sophisticated theatre audience in Tucson.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Cabaret, Arizona Repertory Theatre Company. University of Arizona students couldn't have had more fun staging the Tony Award-winning Cabaret. But think how happy you'd be if you got college credit for being totally sleazy and decadent, plus have people applaud afterwards. Cabaret featured the talented triad of Jay Haddad, Dean Nigro and Erika Lynn Rominger (as Emcee, Yankee novelist Clifford Bradshaw and English singer Sally Bowles, respectively). And oh, those naughty Kit Kat Klub Girls! Celebrating the 35th anniversary of its Broadway debut, this UA production demonstrated why this timeless musical still has legs.

MORE MANIA: Beast On The Moon, by Borderlands Theatre. There was a lot of fine theatre to pick from this season, but this show stood out for its quiet understatement and humble sincerity while still addressing global themes. Borderlands Theatre's Beast On The Moon made genocide intensely personal while avoiding the trap of being dogmatic or emotionally manipulative. The play, by Richard Kalinski, has comedy, tenderness and anger as it follows an Armenian immigrant couple's struggle to make a new life in America after the Turkish pogroms of 1915-1918. Dwayne Palmer and Angela Michelle Navarro showed real chemistry as husband Aram, the sole survivor of his family, and Seta, his young mail-order bride. Borderlands will reprise Beast On The Moon, with Palmer and Navarro under the direction of Annette Hillman, from October 13 through 24, 1999.