I was personally involved as an actor, director or producer in 10 productions of varying sizes during the 2011-2012 season. And they were all awesome. But I thought it would be a little inappropriate to write a whole blog talking about the awesome work produced by myself and the artists I was lucky enough to work with (awesome as they were). So here are my favorite shows, which I had nothing to do with, for 2011-2012:
BrainExplode! (Sneaky Snake Productions/Game Play 2011) was hands down my favorite show. And I saw it last July, so the bar was set very high for the year. Awesome concept, script and execution. Ray Pinter (Stephen Heskett), a video game designer in 1987, via a mysterious dart in the neck, becomes a player in his own action adventure game and has one hour to solve a puzzle or his brain will explode. Six volunteers from the audience gave simple commands in the style of an old school text based adventure game. At one point, Ray was standing onstage with a handkerchief belted to his head and his pants in danger of falling down. All that and emotional growth, catharsis and a cast that rolled with the punches thrown at them by the audience seamlessly. Written by Richard Lovejoy, Danny Bowes and Stephen Aubrey and directed by Paige Blansfield – I would love to see this script (hint, hint) as I have no idea how they pulled this off.
Tenderpits, which was created by Nathan Schwartz and Anthony Johnston and performed by Johnston wearing a diaper and a Cosby sweater and featuring a drunken moose and a judgmental parrot. I can’t really describe this show. It would sound bizarre and disturbing, and it was, but Anthony’s performance was so honest and so lovable that at the end of the show you just wanted to hug his sweaty, diapered self.
Batz (created by Erik Bowie & Josh Mertz) A man arrives at work to find his computer broken and starts reading an old Batman comic book. Slowly everyone around him takes on the parts in the action. Remounted from the original production at the Brick and being compacted onto the tiny stage at Joe’s Pub turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the show exploded with energy, literally leaping off the stage and out into the audience. A running gag about no one wanting to play Robin and sets and props, made out of office supplies, growing more and more elaborate with each passing story. Plus, a woman playing Batman (Melissa DeLancey) and a near iconic level performance by Bob Laine as the Penguin.
Honorable mention to the flying snakes of Flying Snakes in 3D. Because sometimes you just want to throw tiny rubber snakes at the stage and with this show, you could.