Readers' Choice:Into the Woods, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Plenty of local organizations are willing to take a chance on touring companies, and though there was some cheerful bombast (Fame at the Fox, anyone? Remember any of those tunes?), local audiences had the chance to observe some quirky and memorable theater. All in all, the most wonderful non-native entertainment was the Guthrie Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare as spectacle, complete with companionable Prairie Home jokes. It razzled, it dazzled, it had an actor with a mohawk prancing about as Puck and a sexy and mature Oberon and Titania. Bottom was a backwoods yokel with floppy ears who should have his own sitcom, and though the original music could have been stronger, nothing else was quite as exquisitely polished as this gem. Those that came close include Stars on Ice at the Kiel Center. Yes, it's stretching the boundaries to call a skate show "theater," but there were literally pounds of medal gold on the rink that week, and in their competitive years these folks got judged on their "performance" skills. Thousands thrilled to Kristi Yamaguchi's beatific leaps, Scott Hamilton's and Kurt Browning's muscular clowning and the glamorous duet of Ekaterina Gordeeva and Ilia Kulik (later news reports said these two became a couple -- if you saw them skate, there was no question of compatibility). Speaking of movement, Onegin at the Fox was also a stunner, and not just because there were no words to be muffled in the baroque architecture. Watching world-class terpsichores glide through this love story was pure pleasure. On a modern footing, Fosse at the Fox was also a winner. This dance extravaganza is a mobile museum of movement, and this brilliant hoofer's notions about stance and footwork continue to influence current choreographers.