I Can’t Believe a Year’s Gone By So Fast…

As the dust from 2008 settles and I find myself resolutely rooted in this brand new year, I begin to sweep the cobwebs and eggnog from my brain and look back to the books and mountains of schoolwork I have disregarded in favor of shopping malls and organic candy canes. So, of course, I have begun to catch up reading my favourite blogs and websites and I realized that “the thing to do” was, apparently, to make a list of Amanda’s Favourite Theatrical Moments of 2008, to salute those who I felt were most deserving of a little extra recognition in hopes that 2009 would bring even more inspiration, profundity, awe, wonder and fun into my life.
Here they are, in alphabetical order.
Amanda’s Favourite Theatrical Moments of 2008

Ron Jenkins’ phenomenal direction of The Black Rider with November Theatre from Edmonton, which played at Tarragon Theatre this fall. I have never had a theatrical experience quite like this one before. It was gripping and poignant, poetic and beautiful, horrific and awing. It was everything that I think theatre should aspire to be.
Joseph Ziegler and John Jarvis’ portrayals of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts respectively in Soulpepper’s production of A Christmas Carol. This show was magical, and these two actors were at the very hub.
Acting UpStage’s production of Edges. This show epitomizes the experience of being a young musical theatre aficionado in Toronto and it is infused with talent, faith, determination, love and optimism for a bright future.
The Company Theatre’s amazing production of Festen at the Berkeley Street theatre in December. This was a show that truly ripped down the fourth wall and flung its unsuspecting audience members headlong into the theatrical fray. I have never seen an audience so engaged at a 2:00pm matinee!!
Ghost Jail Theatre and their hilarious Improv show every Sunday night at Clinton’s Tavern (although not until January 18th). Special shout out to Kayla Lorette and Fraz Wiest who have made me spittake. Seriously.
Stewart Lemoine’s new play Happy Toes, which I saw at the tail end of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival in August. Funny, clever, nuanced, with brilliant performances by five of Teatro la Quindicina’s core members, this show was even heralded as “awesome” by nine-year-old Cassidy Ekstrom and seven year old Ciarra Ekstrom.
The National Theatre of Canada’s weekly improvised Canadian play series Impromptu Splendor. The plays that come out of this show are remarkably (and consistently) fantastic, and getting to watch their creation through improvisation is the rarest of treats.
Anthony Black’s performance in his show Invisible Atom which played at Theatre Passe Muraille in the Spring. Black is a fantastic playwright and actor, and the lighting design of this piece blew my mind. It was one of the most beautiful pieces of theatre I have ever seen.
Jonathan Monro’s original music for his musical Variations on a Nervous Breakdown. Who knew a Broadway caliber original Canadian musical would come to Barrie?
Marla McLean’s portrayal of Mary Bailey and Mike Shara’s portrayal of George Bailey in the Canadian Stage Company’s production of It’s A Wonderful Life. They are the very stuff Christmas is made of.
Megan Follows and Dawn Greenhalgh’s gripping performances in Soulpepper’s Production of ‘Night Mother in the spring. Getting the opportunity to watch this famous Canadian mother and daughter duo in Marsha Norman’s play was a truly extraordinary experience.
Nicola Lipman’s amazing performance in the Canadian Stage Company’s production of The December Man. Lipman evokes such grief, pain and sorrow perfectly, without ever losing the integrity of the character she is playing.
The Canadian Stage Company’s production of Judith Thompson’s play Palace of the End is one of my favourite theatrical experiences of all time. I have never cried so much in a theatre. I walked out of that show with such pride in Canstage for having the bravery to confront such difficult and controversial material. I stand in awe of David Storch, and Maev Beaty’s performance still haunts me.
Pull Me Through: the gorgeous compilation album of Broadway and Cabaret songs sung by Toronto actor Patricia Zentilli and accompanied by the extremely talented Patti Loach on the piano. This CD is absolutely essential for anyone who appreciates this type of music. For more information on how to purchase the album, please visit www.patriciazentilli.com
Scorched, which played at the Tarragon Theatre in September, was a profound piece of theatre brilliantly written, acted and directed. It was a great example of all the elements coming together and creating an irresistible, powerful fusion.
Sharron Matthews and Sharron’s Party. Without a doubt the most fun you will have at the theatre. Her next party is January 19th at Tallulah’s Cabaret at Buddies. For tickets call 416 975-8555.
Ted Dykstra’s performance in Fire. Watching that man play piano is beyond incredible. It almost didn’t matter that I didn’t like the script, the story, or most of the songs, Dykstra’s performance made the show entirely worthwhile for me. Hell, his final song made me cry at a show I didn’t even like! That takes talent.

I want to thank you all for stopping by to read my blog in 2008. I appreciate each and every one of you, and wish to extend my most sincere gratitude to all the theatre artists who work so diligently across our country to create works of art. You are my inspiration, and I find great strength in your words, pictures and most of all, your dreams. Happy 2009!

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