Others hailed the work of even larger casts. "How can I possibly choose the performance of just one person from Go, Dog, Go! asked Carol North at Metro Theater Company. "Go, Dog, Go! was an ensemble show in every way. Here's to the whole litter!"

When the Rep's Steve Woolf, who initially had predicted that making this selection would be fun, submitted his response, he added, "It was a harder assignment than one would think." Well, it's true: "It's not easy to single one actor out over another, even when you're not an artistic director. Although the St. Louis Rep presented many showy performances in its eleven productions this year, Woolf devoted his space to an entire cast: "The whole ensemble of Twelve Angry Men — twelve jurors and the bailiff — came together to deliver an engrossing performance of a story much of the audience at first believed they knew backward and forward. In a play full of contention, humor, bald prejudice and grudging respect, the entire cast used their behaviors, postures and quirks to create a group of real, flawed human beings. Audience members were riveted and often expressed their shock at seeing a reflection of a society that was not from the distant past."

Kim Furlow and Donna Weinsting in Stray Dog's 'night Mother.
John Lamb
Kim Furlow and Donna Weinsting in Stray Dog's 'night Mother.
Penney Kols, Bobby Miller and Lavonne Byers in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.
Lisa Mandel
Penney Kols, Bobby Miller and Lavonne Byers in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.

Ultimately, I had to be impressed by our artistic directors' insistence on inclusiveness, for it seems to portend an innate understanding that our area theaters need to unite together in the coming year. Surely the most influential theater event of 2008 did not occur on any stage; rather, it was the tanking of the economy. When dollars become scarce, theater is sure to take an early hit, is likely to be regarded as a frill rather than the necessity it is. We can all expect a lot of belt tightening in 2009. When that occurs, a sense of ensemble in the theater community will be more critical than ever. 

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