Top 10 Parts and Wholes (In No Particular Order), Plus One Standout

Chronicle Arts writer Hannah Kenah on her favorite moments onstage in 2008

1) The Clean House (Zach Theatre) A powerful script by Sarah Ruhl. Crisp staging by Dave Steakley. Great performances in great roles for several women and one man. But let's be honest: This was about the women.

2) Sharon Marroquin's "Crandall Canyon Mine" (Big Range Austin Dance Festival) Evocative and heartbreaking. Dance at its most communicative.

3) Jason Newman channeling Frankenstein in Bomb Shelter: or the Modern Pinocchio (Tongue and Groove Theatre)

4) Jessie Tilton's continually surprising performance in Cyndi Williams' Dug Up (Austin Playhouse)

5) Jude Hickey's balls-to-the-wall performance in Hamilton Township (Salvage Vanguard Theater)

6) Caroline, or Change (Zach Theatre) All of it, particularly the image of the bus coming to deliver the news of JFK's death.

7) Ophelia (Tutto Theatre Company) A clever reconstruction that posed the sad premise that perhaps Hamlet and Ophelia were legitimately in love.

8) You Are Pretty (St. Idiot Collective) All of it, particularly Lee Eddy's understated performance.

9) Gina Houston in Sarah Saltwick's "Cecelia" (Austin Script Works' Out of Ink Festival) Houston can hold a stage like few others, and Saltwick's quirky script was a perfect complement to that strength.

10) The lovely imagination of The Red Balloon (Tongue and Groove Theatre)

THE STANDOUT

The Casket of Passing Fancy (Rubber Repertory) Finally, and most spectacularly, a theatrical feast that pushed the comfort zone of its audience, drenched them in consequences, and ultimately turned an evening of individual choices into the most collective artistic experience to be found this year. Afterward, the question for your fellow watchers wasn't, "What did you think?" It was, "What happened?" And anything could. Huge props to Josh Meyer, Matt Hislope, Rebecca Beegle, and their fearless team for making this seemingly impossible and unbelievably complex work of art become its own reality.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Top 10 Arts2008, Zach Theatre, Sharon Marroquin, Jason Newman, Jude Hickey, Jessie Tilton, Tutto Theatre Company, Rubber Repertory

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