Last week, in honor of Thanksgiving, the critics of ANG Newspapers gathered an assortment of the year’s turkeys. Being one who prefers positive over the negative, I offer my turkeys and promise that the coming weeks will be full of the bests.
Golden Turkey Awards: Theater
I’m happy to report that there were far more good shows than bad on Bay Area stages in 2006. That’s generally the case, and when bad shows do pop up, they’re usually an example of a theater company attempting to make an artistic leap, hatch a new play or challenge complacent audiences.
Such examples of bad shows happening to good companies are California Shakespeare Theater’s The Merchant of Venice, TheatreFirst’s Criminal Genius or Magic Theatre’s The Ice-Breaker. But then there are the stinkers _ the shows you wish you hadn’t seen, that owe you hours of your life back. Here are five such shows:
Lestat, Best of Broadway
The Elton John-Anne Rice vampire musical that sucked harder than any other show in recent memory with its unlistenable songs, absurd performances and Vegas-ready design. Hugh Panaro (left, with Allison Fischer, who somehow managed to be good) gave the cheesiest performance of the year. Talk about major suckage…
Slava’s Snowshow, Best of Broadway
An unfunny clown show is painful, and when one of the giant balloons at the finale beaned me in the face, I knew theatrical and physical pain.
The Tempest, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
Exactly the kind of production that makes people think Shakespeare is for brainiac English geeks, this free Shakespeare in the Park show reduced a mighty, magical play to inscrutable piffle.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ The Greatest Show on
Earth, 136th edition
An attempt to make a more theatrical circus reduced an American classic from three rings to one, gave it a lobotomy and even made the glorious elephants look ashamed.
Iphigenia at Aulis, San Jose Repertory Theatre
Not to hit a company while it’s down, but this misguided, over-directed production of a Greek classic is a pretty good example of a company out of touch with its audience and dazzled by its own inflated sense of importance.