With theater companies in almost every nook and cranny of Baltimore these days, audiences can never run out of enticing opportunities. Although there was no way to get to all the productions this year, I encountered plenty of exceptional stagings and settled on this chronological list of the best local theater of 2015:
'One Night in Miami' at Center Stage
January found Center Stage in top form with "One Night in Miami," the Kemp Powers play that imagines what went on when Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown joined Cassius Clay in a motel room after he became heavyweight champion. First-rate acting and production values made this examination of race, religion and ideals a winner.
'Other Desert Cities' at Fells Point Corner Theatre
Three hot plays were introduced to Baltimore during 2015 by Fells Point Corner Theatre, starting with Jon Robin Baitz's incisive family drama "Other Desert Cities" in January. A tightly knit cast burrowed into the issue-laden characters with remarkable skill in a taut production that reinforced the value of community theater in this town.
'The World Is Round' from Acme/Annex
Among the intriguing ventures from the city's alternative troupes, "The World Is Round," an Acme Corporation/Annex Theater co-production, left a particularly memorable mark in June. Adapted from Gertrude Stein's fanciful once-upon-a-time book and directed by Lola B. Pierson, the charms and surprises in this clever staging were nonstop.
'The Sound of Music' at the Hippodrome
The possibly Broadway-bound revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" that visited the Hippodrome Theatre in December was a revelation. Its qualities made it very easy to forget the famous film and savor the considerable worth of the original 1959 stage version, aided by a young, attractive cast that made the story and songs fresh again.
'Outside Mullingar' at Everyman Theatre
John Patrick Shanley's "Outside Mullingar," a sweet/bittersweet tale of rural Irish folk, has received a disarming, beautifully designed and directed Baltimore premiere from Everyman Theatre (running through Jan. 10). The actors tap into the work's heart as tellingly as its humor, providing one of the most uplifting experiences of the year.