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'A View From the Bridge' tops 2005 SCR program

December 02, 2005|By TOM TITUS

* EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of four columns reviewing local theater in 2005.

Playwright Arthur Miller left us last year, but his powerful works live on, to be reexamined by new generations of theatergoers.

This year, South Coast Repertory revived one of Miller's most visceral plays, "A View From the Bridge," and it's this column's choice as the top production on the company's two Costa Mesa stages in 2005.

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Directed by Martin Benson -- certainly no stranger to Miller with "Death of a Salesman," "The Crucible" and "All My Sons" on his resume -- this modern tragedy, centered on an obsessively jealous dock worker, had lost none of its effect in this, a 50th anniversary production.

The play, as reviewed in this column, "packs all the physical and emotional power as Budd Schulberg's Oscar-winning movie 'On the Waterfront,' which preceded 'View' by one year. Seething machismo courses through the veins of the dock worker characters in each story."

Another revival, this one in a more comic vein, ranks second on our year-end list: Garson Kanin's "Born Yesterday," directed by Warner Shook. This comedy, with its three leading performers transplanted from a Northern California production, was "a joyous event ... the dialogue crackles with comic intensity," the Pilot's review commented at the time.

Richard Greenberg's world premiere, "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way," directed by Mark Rucker, checks in at No. 3. This one was "pure out-and-out comedy with a dab of social satire -- Greenberg at his most biting and hilarious."

"Dumb Show," David Emmes' production of Joe Penhall's scathing seriocomedy, ranks fourth -- "a roasting of celebrity and its illegitimate cousin, tabloid journalism."

Fifth was Rucker's staging of Christopher Shinn's world premiere of "On the Mountain," in which actress Susannah Schulman "grabs the audience by the heart and clings for dear life."

Schulman's portrayal was the finest individual accomplishment by an actress at South Coast Rep in 2005. She shares this spotlight with SCR veteran Richard Doyle, who gave the performance of his career in "A View From the Bridge."

Other actors etching memorable accomplishments during 2005 were John de Lancie in "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way," Tony Ward in "Vesuvius," Micheal McShane in "Dumb Show" and Paul Morgan Stetler in "Born Yesterday."

Joining Schulman on SCR's honor roll of actresses for the year are Adriana Sevan in "The Clean House," Linda Gehringer in "A Naked Girl on the Appian Way" and Jennifer Lyon in "Born Yesterday."

Next Friday, the spotlight swings over to our local community theaters, recognizing the year's finest productions and performances.

Collegiate theater will be applauded Dec. 23, following by the announcement Dec. 30 of the Daily Pilot's man and woman of the year in theater. Stay tuned.

* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot. His reviews appear Fridays.

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