For Golden West College, 2011 was an ambitious year with two prize-winning dramas, a classic comedy and the revival of a vintage musical.
When the smoke cleared, it was GWC's production of Tennessee Williams' masterwork, "A Streetcar Named Desire," topping the list. Director Tom Amen's "affinity for the play is evident in every phase of the show," this column observed.
"Golden West's riveting production offers a sterling cast in these familiar roles," the review continued. Plaudits, as well, to Sigrid Hammer Wolf's "fragmented apartment and courtyard setting" which "offers the ideal backdrop for this legendary drama."
As strong a production as it was, "Streetcar" was not a clear winner. The morality drama "Doubt," also directed by Amen, proved a "finely crafted and deeply involving production."
Completing the GWC year were "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "The Importance of Being Earnest," both impressively directed by Martie Ramm.
As for individual acting honors, Camille Lacey's Blanche in "Streetcar" holds a slight edge over Jill Cary Martin in "Doubt." Lacey's character was "beautifully interpreted" and "maintaining her character's facade with dedication and zeal."
Martin was "rock-solid" as the unbending nun determined to expel a priest of questionable morals. Both actresses delivered performances of enormous range and quality.
Among the GWC actors, none stood taller than Lawrence Hemingway, both for his brutish Stanley Kowalski in "Streetcar" and his ambiguous young priest in "Doubt." This column noted that "Hemingway exerts a frightening authority" in "Streetcar" and a "flair and fervor" as the cleric in "Doubt."
Another memorable performance was that of Renee Curtis as Stella in "Streetcar," exhibiting "a delicious quality of natural reality" and "a soothing and sensual presence."
Other performers displaying particular acting skill during 2011 at Golden West included Sean Coutu in "Streetcar," Rikki Taylor in "Doubt," Jonathan Dean and Tony Graham in "Joseph" and Devon Suraco in "Earnest."
Next week, this column's year end review of top productions and performances in the West County area concludes with a look back at the Westminster Community Theater.
TOM TITUS covers the local theater scene for the Independent.