On Theater: 'Proof' positively paced the pack at Playhouse

Simply put, as reported in this column earlier in the year, "The Huntington Beach Playhouse's production of 'Proof' stands as proof of the potential for excellence in community theater when a solid cast and crew are aligned."

Small wonder, then, that "Proof," David Auburn's Tony award-winning drama combining passion and problem-solving, ranks at the top of the list for the playhouse in 2011. Directed by James Rice, the production approached professional theater quality.

This "powerful and involving theater piece" was the clear choice over a diverse and imaginative field of 2011 productions at Huntington Beach's Library Theater.

A strong runner-up is "Seussical," the fantasy-flavored musical adaptation of the popular children's stories of Dr. Seuss. Arthur L. Ross directed this colorful collection of characters ranging from the mischievous Cat in the Hat to Horton, the egg-sitting elephant.

Ranking third is "The Miss Firecracker Contest," Beth Henley's early effort about a dysfunctional batch of Southern-fried misfits, directed by Stephen Gomer. "Their outrageousness is magnified at the expense of a true connection" was the way this column's review put it.

"Run for Your Wife," "Oliver" and "Treasure Island" rounded out the playhouse's season of productions.

As for individual acting accomplishments, Courtney King's "electrified interpretation" of the leading role in "Proof" ranks clearly at the top of the list. Also exceptional was Ben Green's math researcher in the same show — "a solid, earnest portrayal."

Erica Farnsworth, the central figure in "Firecracker," was described in this column as an actress who "captures our hearts with her awkward but sincerely ineffective gestures." She placed a strong second behind King's masterful portrayal.

Stefan Berglund's wily Fagin in "Oliver" ranks high on the scale, as does Adriana Sanchez's Nancy in the same production. Erica Beck stole the show as the Cat in the Hat from the musical "Seussical."

Other noteworthy performances at the Huntington Beach Playhouse in 2011 were turned in by the quartet of Natalie Beisner, Cort Huckabone, Mitch Nunn and Bob Fetes in the farcical comedy "Run for Your Wife." Stacee Tweedle and Brian Nguyen also were quite memorable in "Seussical."

Next week the spotlight shifts to Golden West College's achievements of 2011; on Dec. 22 the Westminster Community Theater will get its year-end review.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Independent.

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