Arts

The 10 Best Stage
Productions In 2015

A look back at some of the best plays and musicals of 2015.
Lion King STAGE ROYALTY: 'The Lion King' was definitely one of the best productions to come through the Valley in 2015.

Silicon Valley has no shortage of theater companies—from larger groups, like the Palo Alto-based TheatreWorks and Broadway San Jose, to the more nimble outfits, such as City Lights and The Pear. All do excellent work, and it would be impossible to choose a definitive list of the 10 best stage productions in 2015. That said, here are 10 great shows we saw this year.

BuildCity Lights

After reading the description, I wasn't expecting Build to resonate so strongly. However this story—about a pair of Palo Alto techies and former best friends, who designed a hit video game together and then grew apart—turned out to be a riveting sci-fi tale, filled with tons of heart and great performances by its three leads. (KK)

M. ButterflyCity Lights

City Lights had another winner with M. Butterfly, a stellar version of David Henry Hwang's astonishing and ambitious art-imitating-life-imitating-art take on love, sex, international politics and Puccini. More incredible still: it's based on a true story. (KK)

ChicagoPalo Alto Players

Chicago is one of the all-time best musicals—so much so that any community theater revivals risk unfavorable comparisons to recent Broadway or hit-film versions. I was very pleased to see Palo Alto Players deliver a pitch-perfect production, full of razzle dazzle and biting wit. (KK)

VioletTabard Theatre

I went in knowing nothing about the theater company or the show and came out pleasantly surprised by both. The key to the success of this sweet story is Jeanine Tesori's rousing, eclectic score, which includes bits of bluegrass, gospel and R&B. Tesori went on to win the 2015 Tony Award for her work on Fun Home. (KK)

ArcadiaPear Theatre

The Pear Theatre—formerly known as the Pear Avenue Theatre—had a big year, changing locations and opening a brand-new performance space. But it was the final show performed at its old location that's stuck with me. Tom Stoppard's Arcadia is a dizzyingly clever, time-hopping play that mixes science, mathematics, English literature, immortal tortoises, hermits and more. The Pear may be teeny-tiny, but it handled such dense material with aplomb. (KK)

EmmaTheatreWorks

TheatreWorks' holiday revival of its most popular show of all time, a lovely musical adaptation of Jane Austen's 1815 novel, is as warm-hearted, well-crafted and winsome as you've been led to believe. Lianne Marie Dobbs is perfectly cast as the titular matchmaker, and she's surrounded by performers equally as talented. (KK)

Noel Coward Festival — Stanford Repertory Theater

Stanford's summer festival celebrated all-things Noel Coward, one of the kings of modern music and theater. His witty wordplay and memorable melodies were on display in two live productions, as well as a film series and community symposium. (KK)

RFKSan Jose Stage Company

David Arrow gave an impressive performance in this one-man-show exploration of Robert Kennedy's interesting life and important legacy. As presidential-election season ramps up, the "what if?" of RFK's career cut short is especially poignant. (KK)

The Lion KingCenter for the Performing Arts

It's always a big deal when the king is in town. Case in point: when Disney's Tony Award-winning touring musical, The Lion King, stopped for a run in downtown San Jose, fans of the amazing musical packed the Center for the Performing Arts four weeks in a row. No wonder: the performances were stellar, the singing was first-rate and the costumes were breathtaking. (NV)

The Book of MormonCenter for the Performing Arts

The Book of Mormon is a juggernaut among modern Broadway musicals, and it's easy to see why. Though the musical—penned by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame—doesn't pull any punches, it's never overly cruel, and ultimately it finds a sweet spot between lampooning organized religion and recognizing the unique ability faith has in unifying people for a common good. (NV)


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