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The Best of 2019 in Local Theater

Compared to neighboring counties, Marin has relatively few regularly producing theater companies. But quantity does not equal quality, as this list proves. Here, in alphabetical order, are the best and/or most interesting works produced in the past year by our very own Marin-based companies:

A Bright New Boise (College of Marin) Marin-theater stalwart Steve Price gave the performance of the year as a father trying to balance his desire to have a relationship with his son with his belief that the apocalypse is nigh.

How I Learned What I Learned (Marin Theatre Company) This one-man show based on the life of August Wilson was more than a parade of his greatest hits: It was a fascinating look at how his life experiences seeped into the lives of his characters.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Curtain Theatre) Faced with the threat of losing their venue, this company responded the best way a theater company can—by putting on a very entertaining show and, as they have for 20 years, by serving their audience well.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Marin Shakespeare Company) The combination of an entire cast of talented performers of color, creative costuming and scenic design, and one of Shakespeare’s most entertaining plays made for a production that was breathtaking in many ways and almost held up to the end.

Mother of the Maid (Marin Theatre Company) Strong performances and sumptuous scenic and lighting design illuminated this different take on the Joan of Arc story.

Ragtime (Throckmorton Theatre) How they got a show this big to fit in the tiny Mill Valley theater and do it so well is a credit to all the artists involved.

She Loves Me (Ross Valley Players & The Mountain Play) It’s been 85 years since these two companies last collaborated. They shouldn’t wait so long to do it again.

Spring Awakening (Marin Musical Theatre Company) A show that speaks to younger generations, plus a gifted young cast, equals an audience full of young people. Why can’t more theater companies do the math?

Sweeney Todd (Novato Theater Company & Theatre-at-Large) We’re going to see a few more productions of this across the North Bay this year. They have set the standard.

These Shining Lives (Ross Valley Players) A textbook example of how a good director, an experienced cast and a creative design team can uplift a so-so script.

Cheers to the local theater community for their fine work, and a Happy New Year to all!

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