Top local theater in 2018

We salute some of our favorite Midpeninsula productions

Max Tachis played William Shakespeare in Dragon Theatre's "Equivocation." Photo by Lance Huntley.

As 2018 draws to a close, it's time once again to take a look back and give an extra shout-out to 12 (it was too hard to pick just 10!) of the best shows we saw on the Midpeninsula theater scene this year.

"Distracted" -- Los Altos Stage Company

In April, Los Altos Stage Company produced a pitch-perfect version of Lisa Loomer's funny and smart exploration of a family dealing with a child's ADHD diagnosis and the many complications surrounding it, anchored by a stellar performance by Dana Cordelia Morgan as Mama.

"Equivocation" -- Dragon Productions Theatre Company

Dragon delivered a fantastic fakespearian tale that involved cast members switching between roles at breakneck speed, big ideas about creativity, history and propaganda and local gem Max Tachis in the role of the Bard.

"Fun Home" -- TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

The Tony-winning musical based on Alison Bechdel's graphic-novel memoir came with high expectations. Happily, TheatreWorks' beautiful version did not disappoint.

"The Music Man" -- Broadway by the Bay

Redwood City transformed into River City for this big-hearted, high-quality production of the beloved musical about rascally con man Harold Hill and how his (false) plans for a children's band actually transform a conservative, humdrum town for the better.

"Homo Ex Machina" -- Stanford University

It's always exciting to witness a new work in development. Stanford University bioethicist Karola Kreitmair wrote a thought-provoking play about an experimental therapeutic device and its effects, both positive and negative, on a woman suffering from a neurodegenerative disease.

"Tarzan" -- Palo Alto Players

For its family-friendly production, Palo Alto Players turned the Lucie Stern Theater into a verdant rainforest in Disney's "Tarzan." Great fun, great apes, and Jimmy Mason made the vine-swinging title character more than just a one-note strongman.

"Hedda Gabler" -- Pear Theatre

Weekly critic Janet Silver Ghent said of the Pear's production of the Ibsen classic: "While this show is a tragedy, the lively pacing, the acting and the intimate setting make this 'Hedda' a theatrical treat, even amid our own dark times."

"Seeing Red" -- San Francisco Mime Troupe

After being denied a permit to perform in Mitchell Park in 2017 (due to solicitations of donations), the venerable San Francisco Mime Troupe made a triumphant return to Palo Alto with a free, outdoor performance of their original time-traveling socialism musical at Cubberley.

"Skeleton Crew" -- TheatreWorks Silicon Valley/Marin Theatre Company

Weekly writer Kaila Prins said this resonant Bay Area co-production, about four factory workers struggling in an economic downturn, had "grit, wit and a lot of heart."

"Pippin" -- Los Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company had magic to do and did it well in this whimsical, groovy, dark Stephen Schwartz musical about the son of Charlemagne seeking purpose in life.

"Our Great Tchaikovsky" -- TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Weekly critic John Orr especially enjoyed piano maestro, writer and actor Hershey Felder's return to TheatreWorks in the role of Russian composer Tchaikovsky.

"The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence" -- Dragon Productions Theatre Company

Actor Tasi Alabastro lit up the stage playing multiple characters named Watson in this twisty, mind-bending dramedy.

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