The year in Triangle theater | The Year in Arts | Indy Week
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The year in Triangle theater 

Call us impetuous. We couldn't wait a moment longer to give you your present. It's our annual list of superlatives in regional theater. It's also a theatrical GPS device that will direct you to a number of rooms where we have been amazed this year, and tell you who amazed us. And if oriented properly, it points not only to past wonders but to those places and people most likely to produce future ones as well: an orientation device for negotiating our artistic space and time as well.

And we've designed it so it doesn't even need batteries. See? We thought you'd like it. Here's to happy holidays, and a better new year.


Best Original Script/ Adaptation

World-class work isn't just being performed on Triangle stages; it's being written here as well. Our auteurs studied those moments when everything changes, tore apart preconceptions about civic engagement, researched how civil rights activists survived a summer in the belly of the beast, and resurrected jazz history that was a bit too busy getting lost. We're grateful.

  • Ellen Hemphill and the cast, Out of the Blue, Archipelago Theatre
  • Tony Perucci, The Activist, The Performance Collective
  • Mike Wiley, The Parchman Hour, Mike Wiley Productions
  • Jeffrey McIntyre, Art Tatum: Piano Starts Here, Zenph Sound Innovations


Best Original Music

As the regional music scene has grown more potent and diverse, activity in this category has steadily increased. Our American Idiot isn't here yet. But it's coming.

  • Allison Leyton-Brown, Out of the Blue, Archipelago Theatre
  • Ngqoko Cultural Group, MoLoRa (Ash), Duke Performances
  • Jonny Tunnell, ANARCHIST! and REDGHOST, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern
  • Bart Matthews, God's Ear, Manbites Dog Theater
  • Mark Hartman, Nothing Pink, Ride Again Productions/ UNC Communication Studies
  • Michael Yionoulis & Ryan Gastelum, As You Like It, PlayMakers Repertory Company


Best Musical Direction

Excellence in rock, light opera, musical theater—and a soulful montage including gospel, folk and the blues. Yes. We do all that around here.

  • Alan Riley Jones, The Mikado, Durham Savoyards
  • Eddy Robinson, Annie, North Carolina Theatre
  • Chiaki Ito, The Rocky Horror Show, Carolina Theatre Group L.L.C.
  • Mary Williams, The Parchman Hour, Mike Wiley Productions


Best Scenic Design


  • Marion Williams, The Importance of Being Earnest, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Torry Bend, The Beatification of Area Boy, Duke Theater Studies
  • Tori Ralston, Eurydice, ArtsCenter Stage
  • Thomas Mauney and Miyuki Su, Bug, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Rebecca Buck, Lexie Nichols, Deb Royals, Dancing at Lughnasa, Justice Theater Project
  • Nick Purdy, Spider's Web, NCSU University Theatre


Best Costume Design


  • David Serxner, Twelfth Night, Town of Cary
  • Anne Kennedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, PlayMakers Repertory Company


Best Lighting Design


  • Roz Fulton, Ophelia Chua, The Beatification of Area Boy, Duke Theater Studies
  • Rick Young, Our Town, Raleigh Little Theatre


Best Sound Design


  • Sound Wave Audio, The Rocky Horror Show, BSS/CS


Best Effects and Other Design

Paperhand's puppets are a regional institution. Noland's videography of urban blight and more toney wastelands gave Area Boy a chill, while Zenph's technicians used computers to channel the ghost of Art Tatum into a concert grand—one more time.

  • Paperhand Puppet Intervention, puppets, Love and Rockets
  • William Noland, video, Beatification of Area Boy, Duke Theater Studies
  • Zenph Sound Innovations, re-performance piano, Art Tatum: Piano Starts Here


Special Achievements in Production Design

This is the award they want. It's what we give when everything in a show's design works brilliantly. When that happens, we're transported into different worlds and different times. That, or the mirror to our own world, without warning, goes 3-D.

  • Out of the Blue, Archipelago Theatre: Jan Chambers, set (also for Fences at PlayMakers Repertory Company); Jan Chambers, Kay Webb, Lily Peifer, costumes; Torry Bend, masks and props; Jesse Belsky, lights; Jim Haverkamp, video
  • The Glass Menagerie, Triad Stage: Anya Klepikov, set; Kelsey Hunt, costumes; Norman Coates, lighting; Nicholas Hussong, projection; David Smith, sound; Nickolaus Fruin, glassblower
  • Shipwrecked!, PlayMakers Repertory Company: Robin Vest, set; Rachel Pollock, costumes; Tyler Micoleau, lights; Ryan Gastelum, sound design; Mark Lewis, Kelsey Didion, Lauren Klingman, Josh Tobin, sound effects


Special Achievements in Ensemble

In these 10 shows, if you were anywhere on stage at any time, we were loving it.

  • Out of the Blue, Archipelago Theatre: Dan Sipp, Cheryl Chamblee, Derrick Ivey, Kathryn Hunter-Williams, Greg Hohn, Tom Marriott, Gina Kohler, Jessica Harris, Jim Morrow, Tamara Kissane, Andrea E. Woods Valdéz, Ali Yalgin
  • The Activist, The Performance Collective: Nic Anthony, Cameron Ayers, Thaddaeus Edwards, Victoria Facelli, Marjorie Hazeltine, Brian Hicks, Lisa Keaton, Peter Pendergrass, Tony Perucci, Kashif Powell, Rajeev Rajendran, Lucius Robinson, Seema Shukla, Katherine Wilkinson
  • God's Ear, Manbites Dog Theater: Chris Burner, Marcia Edmundson, Katja Hill, Derrick Ivey, Nicole Quenelle, Rajeev Rajendran, Meredith Sause
  • Dancing at Lughnasa, Justice Theater Project: Susannah Hough, Leanne Heintz, Renee Wimberley, Christine Zagrobelny, Betsy Henderson, Ryan Brock, Jason Sharp, Adam Sichel, Michael Keough
  • ANARCHIST!, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern: Jeffrey Detwiler, Jeff Alguire, Dan Sipp, Geraud Staton, Page Purgar, Jay O'Berski
  • columbinus, Necessary Dialogues: Jason Cooper, Meredith Davis, Caroline Jordan, Alejandro La Rosa, Victoria Oliver, Alec Shull, Jacob Stanton, Logan T. Sutton
  • Twelfth Night, Town of Cary: Zach Thomas, Beth Popelka, Betsy Henderson, Ryan Brock, Stuart Byham, Susannah Hough, Jesse Gephart, Rasool Jahan, Steven Roten, George Kaiser, Robert Wallace, John Honeycutt, Brook North, Jason Sharp, Katie Anderson, Kirsten Ehlert, Thom Hanes, Leanne Heintz, Bonnie Roe
  • Body Awareness, Deep Dish Theater: Susannah Hough, Catherine Rodgers, Sean Casserly, Bill Humphreys
  • Burying Barbie, Bare Theatre: Sarah Schmitt, Jessica Heironimus, Richard Butner
  • The Glass Menagerie, Triad Stage: Matthew Carlson, Cheryl Koski, Kate Goehring, Tyler Hollinger


Best Supporting Performances


  • Barbette Hunter (Rose), Thomasi McDonald (Gabe), Fences, Justice Theater Project
  • Emilie Stark-Menneg (Rogue/ Tinker), A Winter's Tale, Peace College
  • Rasool Jahan (Mrs. Muller), Doubt, Theatre in the Park
  • Chris Milner (various), Dark Play, or Stories for Boys, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Ray Dooley (Lady Bracknell), The Importance of Being Earnest, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Mark Filiaci (Father), John Allore (Nasty Interesting Man), Eurydice, ArtsCenter Stage
  • William Wilkins, (T.T.), Member of the Wedding, Theater of American South (TAS)
  • Lynda Clark (Miss Bunner), A Murder is Announced, NCSU University Theatre
  • Staci Sabarski, Shawn Smith (various), God's Country, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Jack Prather (Editor Webb), Lucas Campbell (George Gibbs), Our Town, Justice Theater Project
  • Jimmy Kieffer (Touchstone), As You Like It; (Butler), The Importance of Being Earnest, Scott Ripley (Jaques), As You Like It, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Jeff Aguiar (Old Friend), Playground, The Distillery
  • Joseph Callender (Boy Willie), Phillip Bernard Smith (Avery), The Piano Lesson, Raleigh Little Theatre
  • J. Alphonse Nicholson (Paul), Six Degrees of Separation, Ghost & Spice
  • Jeremiah Williams (Riff Raff), Caitlin Becka (Magenta), The Rocky Horror Show, BSS/ CS
  • Ray Anthony Thomas (Gabriel), Fences, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Kashif Powell, Michael Goolsby, RaTasha Tillery-Smith (various), The Parchman Hour, Mike Wiley Productions


Best Lead Performances


  • Holden Hansen (Sharky), The Seafarer, Burning Coal Theatre
  • Paul O'Brien (Joe Keller), Ellen McLaughlin (Kate Keller), All My Sons, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Sandi Sullivan (Beatrice), Whitney Griffin (Tillie), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Emilie Stark-Menneg (Claire), Limbo, Burning Coal Theatre
  • Joy Jones (Juliette), I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady From Rwanda, PRC2
  • Jane Holding (Lucille Marsden), Oldest Living Confederate Widow: Her Confession, Manbites Dog Theater
  • P.J. Maske (Liz), SECCA, Burning Coal Theatre
  • Lynda Clark (Sr. Aloysuis), Doubt, Theatre in the Park
  • Ryan Brock (Nick), Dark Play, or Stories for Boys, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Jay O'Berski (Maniac), ANARCHIST!, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern
  • Yolanda Rabun (Berenice), Member of the Wedding, TAS
  • Julie Fishell (Winnie), Happy Days, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Liz Beckham (Jean Louise/Scout), Roger Rathburn (Atticus), To Kill a Mockingbird, Burning Coal Theatre
  • Leanne Norton Heintz (Agnes), Jesse Janowsky (Peter), Bug, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Jerome Davis (The Critic), St. Nicholas, Burning Coal Theatre
  • Trevor Johnson (Doc Hanley), Art Tatum: Piano Starts Here, Zenph Sound Innovations


Best Choreography

These artists moved whole ensembles—of zombies or humans—or just one individual, to the beat of a very different drum. Some delicately traced the erotic border of suspense, while others staged the seizures of an incarcerated man and some of life's pivotal moments—from a bird's-eye view.

  • Rebecca Stone, Reefer Madness, Hoof & Horn
  • Joy Williams, Fences, Justice Theater Project
  • Jim Morrow, Ellen Hemphill, Mark Dendy, Gina Kohler, Rebecca Drake, Out of the Blue, Archipelago Theatre
  • Leah Wilkes and Elizabeth Phillips, Vertigo, UNC Communication Studies


Best Direction

They made their visions come true—in real time, in front of hundreds, if not thousands. (Yes, it is magic.)

  • Tom Marriott, ANARCHIST! , Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern
  • Paul Frellick, Body Awareness, Deep Dish Theater
  • C. Glen Matthews, Bug and Dark Play, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • G. Todd Buker, Burying Barbie, Bare Theatre
  • Alex Tobey, columbinus, Necessary Dialogues
  • Ira David Wood III, Doubt, Theatre in the Park
  • Jesse Gephart, The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Jeff Storer, God's Ear, Oh, the Humanity and Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, Manbites Dog Theater
  • Joshua Benjamin, Limbo, Burning Coal Theatre
  • Ellen Hemphill, Out of the Blue, Archipelago Theatre
  • Randolph Curtis Rand, St. Nicholas and To Kill A Mockingbird, Burning Coal Theatre
  • Tony Perucci, The Activist, The Performance Collective
  • Preston Lane, The Glass Menagerie, Triad Stage
  • Mike Wiley, The Parchman Hour, Mike Wiley Productions
  • David Henderson, Twelfth Night, Town of Cary


Best Productions

Professionals and amateurs. Teachers and students. Union and independent. In classrooms, claustrophobic studios, black boxes and on thrust and proscenium stages. In a house that holds 2,000 people, in a room that can't hold 30—and everything between. With what little they have. And with all they can imagine. Artists making theater. Most excellent.

  • ANARCHIST!, Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern
  • Body Awareness, Deep Dish Theater
  • The Glass Menagerie, Triad Stage
  • Happy Days, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Oh, the Humanity!, Manbites Dog Theater
  • All My Sons, PlayMakers Repertory Company
  • Out of the Blue, Archipelago Theatre
  • St. Nicholas, Burning Coal Theatre
  • The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Amadeus, PlayMakers Repertory Company/ North Carolina Symphony
  • Bug, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Dark Play, or Stories for Boys, Raleigh Ensemble Players
  • Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom, Manbites Dog Theater
  • The Activist, The Performance Collective
  • The Parchman Hour, Mike Wiley Productions
  • The Piano Lesson, Raleigh Little Theatre
  • Six Degrees of Separation, Ghost & Spice
  • Burying Barbie, Bare Theatre


The superlatives here are culled from the reviews and recollections of Indy contributors Byron Woods, Kate Dobbs Ariail, Zack Smith and Adam Sobsey.


The following nominations for the production of Crowns at Burning Coal Theatre arrived after deadline for the print version of our story:

  • Best Musical Direction: Jan Powell
  • Special Achievements in Ensemble: Naima Adedapo, LeDawna Akins, Emelia Cowans, Paul Garrett, Joan J, Sherida McMullan, Yolanda Rabun, C. Delton Streeter 
  • Best Direction: Rebecca Holderness

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Deborah, I have go agree with your statement on those posted from last year. there were several other shows and …

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