Editor's note: This is the last column in a three-part series reviewing the year 2010 in local theater.
One is an acclaimed professional actor, the other a skilled director of community theater productions. Both are at the top of their game.
His talent has been on view at South Coast Repertory for the past several years. Hers is most visible at the Newport Theater Arts Center, although she also helmed the show judged tops among an outstanding field this year at the Huntington Beach Playhouse.
These two exponents of excellence on the stage and in the director's chair are Dakin Matthews and Gigi Fusco Meese, the Daily Pilot's man and woman of the year in theater for 2010.
Dakin Matthews has become an exceptionally familiar figure on the SCR stage, playing Polonius in "Hamlet,"
Of his most recent performance in "Misalliance," this column observed, "The always forceful Dakin Matthews devours the stage as the garment mogul who's read just about everything (he incessantly advises others to "read" this or that author) and draws on a fountain of energy that decries his age."
Matthews' talent isn't limited to the theater, however. He pops up in a number of movies, most currently in the remake of
Matthews, however, is most at home in Shakespearean theater. He has portrayed Casca in "Julius Caesar," Baptista in "The Taming of the Shrew," Sir Toby Belch in "Twelfth Night," Falstaff in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and the title role in "King Lear," among others. He appeared in his own adaptation of the
Matthews was a founding member of
Gigi Fusco Meese saw two of her directorial projects reach No. 1 in local theater this year. A week after her staging of "Moonlight and Magnolias" topped a particularly formidable list at the Huntington Beach Playhouse in our sister paper, the Huntington Beach Independent, her production of "A Few Good Men" was likewise honored at the Newport Theater Arts Center in this column.
Meese harbored few qualms about taking on a predominantly male cast in "A Few Good Men." She'd previously pulled it off with "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial," also at the arts center, and "Mister Roberts."
Meese's directorial talents also have helped shape plays such as "The Sunshine Boys,"
Meese is not confined to
Among the trophies on her shelf are the 2006 Arts Professional of the Year award from the Long Beach Arts Council, three Ethel Case acting awards from the Long Beach Playhouse and a Bobbi Award from the Huntington Beach Playhouse.
Dakin Matthews and Gigi Fusco Meese have elevated local theater — on a professional and community level, respectively — over an extended period of years, and two of their finest achievements were on view at local theaters during 2010. They are worthy recipients of the Daily Pilot's man and woman of the year in theater accolades.