The Westminster Community Theater marked its golden anniversary in 2011, and topping that playhouse's artistic achievements was a solid gold production of Michael Cristofer's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "The Shadow Box."
Directed by Lenore Stjerne, the show featured a particularly strong ensemble depicting three cottages at a hospice facility where a trio of residents are waiting to die. They and their loved ones interact in starkly contrasting situations, all beautifully realized in the Westminster interpretation.
This column's review of the show commented, "Stjerne has tackled it head-on with a production both profane and profound ... theater connoisseurs will find it both enriching and engrossing."
A strong runner-up for sheer visceral impact was the thriller "Wait Until Dark," directed by Karla Abrams. Frederick Knott's challenging drama of a blind woman fending off murderous thieves produced some indelible moments in the local production.
Another golden oldie, Philip Barry's comedy "The Philadelphia Story," finished third in an impressive 2011 field and won the theater's Abbey Award for best show of the preceding season.
As for individual excellence, the entire cast of "The Shadow Box" deserves recognition. These performers were Kathleen Fabry, Richard DeVicariis, Christian Hutcherson, Kimberly Woodridge, Richard Comeau, Robert Dominguez, Laura Flores, Beth Titus and Tara Golson.
Runner-up honors are shared by Liza Rios as Suzy in "Wait Until Dark" and Mary-Pat Gonzalez in the leading role of "The Curious Savage." Another memorable performance, in support, was delivered by Laurie Robbins in "Christmas Belles."
Among the individual performances that earned plaudits in Westminster during 2011 were those from Jeff June, both in "The Curious Savage" and "Christmas Belles," Christopher Violette as the menacing Roat in "Wait Until Dark," Elizabeth Bouton Summerer as Tracy in "The Philadelphia Story," Abbey Bolin in "Hay Fever" and Cleta Cohen in "Christmas Belles."
Others worthy of note were Tara Golson, Kip Hogan and Natalie Beisner in "The Curious Savage," Tom Patrick in "Wait Until Dark," Valerie Lohman and Drew Fitzsimmons in "The Philadelphia Story" and Peggy Free in "Hay Fever."
The Westminster Community Theater now is in the midst of its 51st season and will continue with Ken Ludwig's comedy "Leading Ladies," opening Jan. 13.