Tops in Chicago? Los Angeles? Pittsburgh?: Critics' Best of 2006 From Across U.S.

News   Tops in Chicago? Los Angeles? Pittsburgh?: Critics' Best of 2006 From Across U.S. Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ragtime, August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean and Heather Raffo's 9 Parts of Desire are among the shows popping up on critics' lists of top 2006 local productions around the country. Playbill.com has compiled several of these lists below.

The compilation only includes critics who list top shows, as opposed to those who list the top theatre stories of the year.

Peter Filichia, Star-Ledger (New Jersey)

Top ten in alphabetical order:

  • All My Sons directed by Roger Danforth, Two River Theater Company, Red Bank
  • The Cherry Orchard translated and directed by Bonnie J. Monte, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Madison
  • Expecting Isabel by Lisa Loomer, Dreamcatcher Repertory Company, South Orange
  • No Exit directed by Jerry Mouawad, American Repertory Theatre at the Kasser Theater, Montclair State University
  • Ragtime by Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Westfield Young Artists' Cooperative Theatre
  • Richard III directed by Vivienne Benesch, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
  • Rosencrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead directed by Paul Mullins, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
  • The Sea Gull by Anton Chekhov, Krétakor, Kasser Theater, Montclair State University
  • The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, Theatre Project, Cranford
  • Translations by Brian Friel, Berlind Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton

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    Carolyn Clay, Boston Phoenix 1. Best of the Bard (Love’s Labour’s Lost directed by Nicholas Martin, Huntington Theatre Company; Hamlet directed by Brian McEleney, Trinity Repertory Company; Othello directed by Jason Slavick, Boston Theatre Works)
    2. Perfect Tenn (Five by Tenn, SpeakEasy Stage Company; Summer and Smoke with Amanda Plummer, Hartford Stage)
    3. Sartre on a Seesaw (No Exit directed by Jerry Mouawad, American Repertory Theatre)
    4. Song Meets Substance (Ragtime, New Repertory Theatre; Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, SpeakEasy Stage Company)
    5. Fresh Fruit (The Cherry Orchard directed by Curt Columbus, Trinity Repertory Company)
    6. Into Iraq (Stuff Happens by David Hare, Zeitgeist Stage Company; 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo, Lyric Stage Company of Boston)
    7. Music Men (Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert, American Repertory Theatre; Coming Up for Air — An Autojazzography conceived and performed by Stan Strickland, written and directed by Jon Lipsky, Vineyard Playhouse)
    8. Risky Business (Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck, Huntington Theatre Company; The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? by Edward Albee, Lyric Stage Company of Boston)
    9. Casting a Spell (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, Wilbur Theatre)
    10. Knight Moves (Monty Python’s Spamalot, Broadway Across America/Boston Samurai 7.0: Under Construction directed by Davis Robinson, Beau Jest Moving Theater)

    Christopher Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    1. Endgame by Samuel Beckett, and BeckettFest, Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre
    2. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Gate Theatre of Dublin and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
    3. Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson, Pittsburgh Public Theater
    4. Ragtime by Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Terrence McNally, Point Park University
    5. The Grey Zone by Tim Blake Nelson, barebones productions
    6. After Mrs. Rochester by Polly Teale, Quantum Theatre
    7. Monty Python's Spamalot by Eric Idle and John Du Prez, PNC Broadway and Pittsburgh CLO
    8. Opus by Michael Hollinger, City Theatre
    9. Nathan the Wise by G.E. Lessing, Carnegie Mellon
    10. Forbidden Broadway by Gerard Alessandrini, CLO

    Plus fifteen more memorable evenings: 11. The Pillowman, PICT 12. El Paso Blue, Quantum 13. Oedipus the King, Public 14. Contact, Point Park 15. August in February, Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Playwrights, 16. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, CLO 17. Wicked, PNC Broadway 18. Chicks with D****, Bricolage 19. The Birthday Party, Playhouse Rep 20. The Piano Lesson, Pittsburgh Playwrights 21. 22 Drywall Macbeth, aka, Macbeth: The House Tour, Stephen Pellegrino 22. Fool for Love, Thank You Felix 23. Seven Guitars, Kuntu Rep 24. American Buffalo, Playhouse Rep 25. Pittsburgh: The Opera, Squonk Opera

    Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

    In alphabetical order:

    1. Argonautika written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, Lookingglass Theatre Company
    2. Come Back Little Sheba by William Inge, Shattered Globe Theatre
    3. Crumbs From the Table of Joy by Lynn Nottage, Goodman Theatre
    4. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs by William Inge, American Theatre Company
    5. Fences by August Wilson, Court Theatre
    6. King Lear directed by Robert Falls, Goodman Theatre
    7. Pericles directed by Mary Zimmerman, Goodman Theatre
    8. Side Show by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble
    9. Thoroughly Modern Millie by Richard Morris, Dick Scanlan and Jeanine Tesori, Marriott Theatre
    10. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin, Broadway in Chicago/David Stone.

    Also: The Best Man, Remy Bumppo Theatre; The Boys are Coming Home, American Musical Theatre Project/Northwestern University; The Chalk Garden, Northlight Theatre; Hamlet, Chicago Shakespeare Theater; Love Song, Steppenwolf Theatre Company; Moby Dick, The Building Stage; A Room With a View, Lifeline Theatre; The Real Thing, Remy Bumppo Theatre; Frank's Home, Goodman Theatre; Two Noble Kinsmen, Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

    Jack Zink, Sun-Sentinel (South Florida)

    1. Wicked by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman, Broward Center
    2. I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright, Coconut Grove Playhouse and Parker Playhouse
    3. The Tin Pan Alley Rag, music of Scott Joplin and Irving Berlin directed by Jiri Zizka, Maltz Jupiter Theatre
    4. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, Palm Beach Dramaworks
    5. Summer Shorts, City Theatre Company
    6. Just a Kiss by Catherine Bush, New Theatre
    7. The Price by Arthur Miller, Palm Beach Dramaworks
    8. Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, GableStage
    9. Lend Me a Tenor by Ken Ludwig, Caldwell Theatre Company
    10. Ella, co-conceived by Rob Ruggiero and Dyke Garrison with book by Jeffrey Hatcher, Florida Stage

    Lawson Taitte, Dallas Morning News

  • The Glory of Living by Rebecca Gilman, Second Thought Theatre
  • The Gnadiges Fraulein by Tennessee Williams, WingSpan Theatre Company
  • The Full Monty by David Yazbek and Terrence McNally, Theatre Three
  • Festival of Independent Theatres
  • Urinetown by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman, WaterTower Theatre
  • Below the Belt by Richard Dresser, Amphibian Productions
  • Shakespeare's Keeper by Chris Pickles, Classical Acting Company
  • Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, Lyric Stage
  • A Christmas Carol directed by Joel Ferrell, Dallas Theater Center
  • Dirty Rotten Scoundrels by David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane, Dallas Summer Musicals Chad Jones, Oakland Tribune

    1. The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl, TheatreWorks
    2. The Glass Menagerie directed by Les Waters and starring Rita Moreno, Berkeley Repertory Theatre
    3. Love Is a Dream House in Lorin by Marcus Gardley, Shotgun Players
    4. Hunter Gatherers by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Killing My Lobster
    5. 4 Adverbs by Daniel Handler, Word for Word
    6. Dessa Rose by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, TheatreWorks
    7. In On It by Daniel MacIvor, Encore Theatre Company
    8. Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, American Conservatory Theater
    9. Restoration Comedy by Amy Freed, California Shakespeare Theater
    10. Permanent Collection by Thomas Gibbons, Aurora Theatre Company

    "The best shows that didn't necessarily originate here (or were on their way somewhere else — like Broadway) include: Jersey Boys (Best of Broadway/SHN); A Chorus Line (Best of Broadway/SHN); The Miser (Berkeley Repertory Theatre/Theatre de la Jeune Lune); The Light in the Piazza (Best of Broadway/SHN); The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Stone, Nederlander, Barrington Stage Company et al); Swan Lake (Best of Broadway/SHN)."

    Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times (Northern California)

    Best of 2006:

    1. 9 Parts of Desire by Heather Raffo, Berkeley Repertory Theatre
    2. Around the World in 80 Days directed by Michael Butler, Center Repertory Company
    3. King Lear directed by Patrick Dooley, Shotgun Players
    4. Salome directed by Mark Jackson, Aurora Theatre Company
    5. Hunter Gatherers by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Killing My Lobster
    6. Permanent Collection by Thomas Gibbons, Aurora Theatre Company
    7. Noises Off by Michael Frayn, Willows Theatre
    8. The Merchant of Venice directed by Daniel Fish, California Shakespeare Theater
    9. A Christmas Carol adapted by Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh, American Conservatory Theater
    10. Jersey Boys, Doubt, Edward Scissorhands, Love, Janis, Light in the Piazza, The Miser and Zorro in Hell

    Disappointments:

    1. Slava's Snowshow
    2. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
    3. Mother Courage, Berkeley Rep
    4. Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me
    5. Gem of the Ocean, American Conservatory Theater


    Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times


  • The History Boys by Alan Bennett, Broadway
  • Love's Labor's Lost directed by Simon Abkarian, Actors' Gang at the Ivy Substation
  • All My Sons directed by Randall Arney and starring Len Cariou and Neil Patrick Harris, Geffen Playhouse
  • Sunday in the Park With George by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, The Menier Chocolate Factory in London
  • The Cherry Orchard directed by Sean Mathias and starring Annette Bening, Alfred Molina, and Sarah Paulson, Mark Taper Forum
  • The Watts Towers Project by Roger Guenveur Smith, Kirk Douglas Theatre
  • Rock 'n' Roll by Tom Stoppard, London
  • Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, Circle X Theatre at [Inside] the Ford
  • Fences by August Wilson and starring Laurence Fishburne, Pasadena Playhouse and the Odyssey Theatre
  • Leftover Stories to Tell: A Tribute to Spalding Gray UCLA Live at the Freud Playhouse The worst:

  • Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular
  • The Lord of the Rings, Toronto Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union-Tribune

    Ten memorable productions:

    1. A Body of Water by Lee Blessing, Old Globe
    2. Zorro in Hell by Culture Clash, La Jolla Playhouse,
    3. Titus Andronicus directed by Darko Tresnjak, Old Globe
    4. Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, San Diego Repertory Theatre
    5. The Constant Wife directed by Seret Scott, Old Globe
    6. Collected Stories by Donald Margulies, North Coast Repertory
    7. The Wiz directed by Des McAnuff, La Jolla Playhouse
    8. Urinetown by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman, Starlight Musical Theatre
    9. Chiang Kai Shek by Charles Mee, Sledgehammer Theatre
    10. The Times They Are A-Changin' conceived and directed by Twyla Tharp, Old Globe