Another year of local theater in intimate settings has come and gone and the panel had a generous amount of awesome to choose from. Despite some sad headlines and major changes to the larger, local cultural landscape, the fantastic news is; there are a lot of small theater companies that are still providing a wide variety of theatrical experiences to a wide variety of audiences. There are a lot of organizations still standing and in many cases thriving here and we should own and be proud of that fact. While few like to think of something so lovely as theatre as a business, it is. And, just like any business, they are slave to trends and cycles, for better and for worse. So many of the companies below are excellent examples of creatively and intelligently weathering the storms and riding the waves of change. These groups demonstrate that old dogs can (and must) learn new tricks, but that doesn’t mean they have to abandon their own unique missions in the process.
The list below also proves that even when the storm seems darkest there is always a silver lining and a ray of light ready to shine just behind the clouds. The opportunity to start fresh, begin anew and take on a seemingly impossible task is in fact, QUITE possible. Knowing who you are, who your audience and potential audience is, what your strengths are and playing to all of them is easier said than done, but there are groups finding and solidifying their niche more and more every time the panel meets and this is exciting to see. From invention to reinvention there is so much this region is offering in the form of live, small venue theater.
Represented below are 17 theater companies, 9 actors/artists and 1 special event that the panel felt stood out amongst a vibrant sea of art in the last 12 months. Guidelines for the selection process for the Silicon Valley Small Venue Theatre Awards can be found HERE.
The 2013-2014 HONOREES ARE …(in no particular order):
Standout Musical Production
1776 – The Tabard Theatre Company
Little Shop of Horrors – Foothill College
The Last 5 Years – i.e. Presents
Standout Classical Production
Pygmalion – The Pear Avenue Theatre
A Streetcar Named Desire – Northside Theater Company
The Three Penny Opera – San Jose Stage Company
Standout Dramatic Production
The Whipping Man – Renegade Theatre Experiment
Fool for Love – The Pear Avenue Theater
Amadeus – City Lights Theatre Company
Standout Comedy Production
RX – Dragon Productions Theatre Company
Lend Me a Tenor – Hillbarn Theatre
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – South Bay Musical Theatre
Standout Adult Contemporary Productions
Take Me Out – Dragon Productions Theatre Company
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity – San Jose Stage Company
Last of the Red Hot Lovers – Broadway West
Standout New Works
She Kills Monsters – Renegade Theatre Experiment (West Coast Premiere)
King’s Legacy – Pear Avenue Theatre (World Premiere)
Animals Out of Paper – City Lights Theater Company (South Bay Premiere)
Standout Kids and/or Family-Friendly Production
Bah Humbug – Stage Kids California
Crazy for You – West Valley Light Opera
Coney Island Christmas – City Lights Theater Company
Technical Standout Production
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity San Jose Stage (Set, Video and Fight Choreography)
Moby Dick Rehearsed – Stanford Repertory Theater (Lighting, Sound and Musical Direction)
An Ideal Husband – Douglass Morrisson Theatre (Costumes and Set)
The 39 Steps – California Theatre Center (Props and Costumes)
Actors/Artists/Theaters to Watch for Next Season: Drew Benjamin Jones, Brandon Jackson, Ruth E. Stein (Acting and Prop Design), Jocelyn Pickett, Sarah Thermond, Kalon Thibodeaux, Catherine Brady, Danraj Rajasansi, and Morgan Dayley.
Special Recognition: For the D-Cups, Divas and Dudes concert cabaret event at the Theater on San Pedro Square to raise funds for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Recognition goes not only to the performers who entertained a sold out crowd, but to the venue making itself available for local talent at its very best and continually (year round) supporting charitable causes important to the community. The panel was unanimous in its praise for this event from concept through execution and acknowledges all the work that went into a truly spectacular, uplifting evening.