Theater performances in 2012 set an impressive stage for 2013

In this new year, we're enjoying memories from last year's highlights on Anne Arundel's theater scene — and looking forward to encore performances in 2013.

In 2012, residents were treated to stellar performances in drama, comedy and dance, along with noteworthy popular and classical music events.

The outdoor Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's 47th season featured several innovative programs. The cast and crew set a high standard in the late spring with "Anything Goes," doing justice to Cole Porter's score and offering an excellent performance by homegrown talent Nicole Anderson in the role of Reno Sweeney.

This classic was followed by a nontraditional offering, "Avenue Q," with its outrageous cast of puppets and actors. It was an ideal choice for ASGT's outdoor venue. This production of a 2004 Tony Award winner for best musical liberated local audiences to laugh at one another and themselves.

In May came a classical music triumph, as Annapolis Opera presented Charles Gounod's "Romeo and Juliet," featuring the local debuts of Michael Wade Lee as Romeo and Megan Hart's Juliet. Artistic director Ronald Gretz conducted a superb performance — near the top of any Annapolis Opera production of the last 20 seasons.

For two summer seasons, Infinity Theatre has brought high-caliber productions to Annapolis. In July, the company's "Dames at Sea" engaged Broadway director-choreographer Randy Skinner, and he delivered a phenomenal, thundering troupe of tap dancers.

Last year marked milestones in our entertainment scene — including the 40th year of the jazz performance series in downtown Annapolis. In his show, guitarist Nate Najar seemed to channel the late, great Charlie Byrd, who started the Annapolis jazz tradition with his bass-playing brother, Joe. Other performers keeping the jazz tradition alive in 2012 included the Redd brothers, Robert on piano and Chuck on vibes and drums; local piano legend Stef Scaggiari; and vocalist Sue Matthews.

On the other end of the longevity spectrum, Compass Rose Studio Theater Company capped its inaugural season in May with the musical "Oliver!" featuring an ensemble of 15 performers. Daniel Siefring, as Fagin, led a skilled group of five young singing and dancing orphans.

In October, this academy theater started its second season with "To Kill a Mockingbird," a show that fully established Compass Rose as top presenter. Headed by Baltimore actor Gary Goodson as Atticus Finch, the show featured stellar performances by Maggie Baum, 9, as Scout; and Casey Baum, 12, as Jem. Skilled supporting actors completed the ensemble.

Top acting awards for 2012 go to two Bay Theatre performers. Kathryn Kelley made her Bay Theatre debut in "The Belle of Amherst," a show that closed the company's 10th season in May. Kelley truly brought poet Emily Dickinson to life while establishing a wonderful rapport with audiences.

Then, Bay Theatre opened its 11th season with "Master Harold," featuring a stellar performance by Washingtonbased actor Michael Anthony Williams as the South African servant Sam. The dignity of Williams' portrayal showed that despite apartheid, the oppressed could maintain human pride and free spirit.

Top musical performer award goes to Annapolis native and resident David Bosley-Reynolds for his portrayal of the king of Siam in Toby's Dinner Theatre of Columbia's January production of "The King and I" — just one of his memorable lead roles in 2012.

Despite its relative youth — it has been in existence for only three years — the Annapolis Shakespeare Company earned my award for best overall production with its innovative and polished summer show, "Comedy of Errors." This production ranked high in every aspect, from its splendid cast and direction to its choreography and musical director, costume and set design, and light and sound design. The creative show had the Bard time-traveling to 1890s Paris with a steampunk theme that appealed to younger audience members as well as to seasoned theatergoers.

Coming attractions

In all, 2012 left us wanting more. And in the new year, local theater companies seem ready to provide it.

Compass Rose, 1011 Bay Ridge Ave., Annapolis, will host its production of the Neil Simon comedy "Barefoot in the Park," opening Jan. 25 and running through March 3. To order tickets go to

Bay Theatre, 275 West St., Suite 70, Annapolis, hosts its production of "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All," Feb. 9 to March 17. Go to to order tickets.

Annapolis Opera continues its 40th season with two fully staged performances of Verdi's "Rigoletto" on March 15 and 17 at Maryland Hall. Information is available at

Annapolis Shakespeare Company's next production will be Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," scheduled on three April weekends at Bowie Playhouse. Go to for details.

The Annapolis Summer Garden has announced its next season, June through August, with information at

And for information on weekly jazz concerts in Annapolis, email

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