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This year, there are four “Top 10” lists of 2004 Triangle theatrical productions. Orla Swift of the Raleigh, NC News & Observer (with assistance from Roy C. Dicks and Adam Sobsey) published her 10 best list on Dec. 26th; Alan R. Hall of Front Row Center of Chapel Hill published “Hall’s Top 5 Shows of 2004” on Dec. 29th; Byron Woods of The Independent Weekly of Durham published his Top 10 on Jan. 5th; and Robert’s Reviews of Raleigh, NC published its 10 best selections in Part 1 (list) and Part 2 (thumbnails) of our Jan 6th issue.
As the only show on all four lists, Ragtime (North Carolina Theatre of Raleigh) can lay claim to the title of the best Triangle theatrical production of 2004. Congratulations to NCT producer William Jones, director Joe Locarro, choreographer Antoinette DiPietropolo, and a stellar cast led by Norm Lewis as popular African-American ragtime pianist Coalhouse Walker, Jr., Julia Murney as Mother, a WASP matriarch trying to transcend racial prejudice; and Tony Award® winner Michael Rupert as Tateh, an immigrant paper-silhouette maker-turned-silent movie director.
The best Triangle theatrical company of 2004 was PlayMakers Repertory Company of Chapel Hill, with three of its five 2004 productions (King Lear, Luminosity, and Not About Heroes) on one or more top 10 list. Durham-based Manbites Dog Theater finished second, with its own productions of Nixon’s Nixon and Silver Riverand an “Other Voices” production of Brooms: A Play About Saying Yesby Both Hands Theatre Company earning 10 best honors.
Raleigh-based North Carolina Theatre and Theatre in the Park, Durham-based Theater Previews at Duke, and Chapel Hill-based Wordshed Productions also had two shows appearing on one or more top 10 list.
Discounting the two Greensboro productions in The Independent Weekly’s top 10 list, there were 23 different Triangle shows honored, with eight shows receiving multiple votes. [In this online version, links to reviews and/or previews that appeared in the online version of Robert's Reviews are embedded beneath the shows' titles.] The complete list of honorees, in alphabetical order, includes:
Boy Gets Girl (Deep Dish Theater Company, Oct. 28-Nov. 20): Chosen by The News & Observer. (For Robert’s Reviews preview, see our Oct. 28th [e-mail] issue.)
Brooms: A Play About Saying Yes (Both Hands Theatre Company at Manbites Dog Theater, June 26-27): Chosen by The Independent Weekly.
The Chosen (Theatre Or, Jan. 31-Feb. 8 and Feb. 14-15): Chosen by The News & Observer.
Eye of God (Peace College Theatre, April 20-25): Chosen by The News & Observer.
Hangman (Theater Studies at Duke University, April 7-10 as part of New
Works in Progress: 2004): Chosen by The Independent Weekly.
The King and I (North Carolina Theatre, July 10-18): Chosen by The News & Observer.
King Lear (PlayMakers Repertory Company, Jan. 14-Feb. 8): Chosen by The Independent Weekly.
A Lesson Before Dying (The Justice Theater Project, March 19, April 25, and May 16): Chosen by The Independent Weekly and The News & Observer.
Little Women: The Musical (Theater Previews at Duke et al., Oct. 13-31): Chosen by Robert’s Reviews.
The Lonesome West (Wordshed Productions, March 25-April 10): Chosen by Front Row Center.
Luminosity (PlayMakers Repertory Company, April 7-May 2): Chosen by Front Row Center and Robert’s Reviews.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Actors from the London Stage at Duke Performances, Nov. 11-12): Chosen by Robert’s Reviews.
Nixon’s Nixon (Manbites Dog Theater, Aug. 12-22): Chosen by The Independent Weekly and The News & Observer. Note: An encore presentation of Nixon’s Nixon is now playing at Manbites Dog Theater at 8:15 p.m. Jan. 13-15, 20-22, and 28-29.
Not About Heroes (Playmakers Repertory Company, Nov. 24-Dec. 19): Chosen by The News & Observer.
A Paradise It Seems: The Short Stories of John Cheever (Wordshed Productions, July 30-Aug. 1): Chosen by The Independent Weekly and Robert’s Reviews.
The Producers (Broadway Series South, Nov. 2-7): Chosen by The Independent Weekly and Robert’s Reviews.
Ragtime (North Carolina Theatre, Sept. 11-19): Chosen by Front Row Center, The Independent Weekly, The News & Observer, and Robert’s Reviews.
Silver River (Manbites Dog Theater, Feb. 12-28): Chosen by The News & Observerand Robert’s Reviews.
Some Things That Can Go Wrong at 35,000 Ft. (Theater Previews at Duke, April 9-17): Chosen by The News & Observer.
Stones in His Pockets (Actors Comedy Lab and Theatre in the Park, Dec. 3-12): Chosen by Front Row Center and Robert’s Reviews.
Sweet Bird of Youth (Theatre in the Park, June 11-27): Chosen by Front Row Center.
Sylvia (Towne Players of Garner, Oct. 15-23): Chosen by Robert’s Reviews.
Victoria (Dulcinea Langfelder & Co. at N.C. State University Center Stage, Nov. 20): Chosen by Robert’s Reviews.
Second Opinion: The following four print and online publications, listed in alphabetical order, published 2004 Top 10 lists (with Internet addresses in parentheses): Front Row Center (http://hometown.aol.com/theonlyarhall/reviews.html), The Independent Weekly (http://indyweek.com/durham/2005-01-05/cover3.html), The News & Observer (http://www.newsobserver.com/lifestyles/arts_entertainment/v-printer/story/1963887p-8332795c.html [inactive 9/05]), and Robert’s Reviews.
Note: Copies of 2004 theatre materials no longer linked from this article are available in our updated archives.