A thank-you for local theaters’ best efforts


By Stephanie Ottey

entertainment@vindy.com

As a theater reviewer in the Youngstown area, I have plenty of opportunities to express my opinions, but I rarely get the chance to thank those who really make an effort to make our theater community special.

So, in lieu of the traditional “Top 10 Plays/Musicals of the Year” list, I’d simply like to take this space to give thanks to everyone who made 2012 watchable.

First, to Mary Ruth Lynn, director of the Youngstown Playhouse, for continuing to grow the Griffith-Adler season at the theater. I look forward to every production in this series, and not one disappointed in 2012.

To the Oakland Center for the Arts for sharing “Spring Awakening.” It was, by far, the most fully developed musical I’ve seen in Youngstown in a long time. With stimulating, unique choreography, smart vocal and instrumental performances, and a thoroughly developed design aesthetic, this show was superb. I am glad to have seen it.

Thanks to everyone who shared a song with me.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” was a smash at Stage Left, music director Alex Marr made “The Last 5 Years” a success at Salem Community Theater, and I still find myself craving the cast of The Spotlight Players’ “Next to Normal.”

Easy Street allowed me to enjoy watching a production of “Annie” for the first time.

To the Victorian Players for making me laugh in 2012. “The Foreigner” and “The Odd Couple” were unforgettably hysterical.

Thanks particularly to Chris Fidram, the “foreigner” himself, for sharing his talents throughout this community with such artistic dedication. He left an imprint on the Youngstown Playhouse, The Oakland and the Victorian this year, leading by example as a community player.

To Brandy Johanntges for doing the same. She brought tremendous performances to Salem and Youngstown.

Matthew Mazuroski has made a tremendous change in the productions at Youngstown State University since his arrival, and is also bridging the gap between university and community theater — something much needed and appreciated.

To Jimmy McClellan and Liz Rubino for taking that leap to show us all that New York City isn’t so far away from Youngstown, Ohio, after all.

To the Rust Belt Theater Company for showing me something brand-new, Trumbull New Theatre for reminding me “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and The New Castle Playhouse for proving that “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is really in Pennsylvania.

Thanks to Vindy readers who have suffered through all of my cliches and puns.

To the designers who shared their artistic visions, like Tony E. Kovacic, who made a particularly lasting impression with his set design for “Hedda Gabler” at Kent Trumbull. There were truly too many design successes to list.

Of course, I want to thank all of the theaters that have let me in and given me a seat. Thanks to the boards, the volunteers, the directors, actors, designers, and crews for not only making art happen, but for supporting each other in the process. A sense of teamwork was growing in this past year and is now making the Youngstown theater community a place to want to belong in again.

Congratulations, and cheers to the upcoming year of theater!

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