By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
With a lanky, Buscemi-like demeanor, young Drew Wall became an actor worth watching this year, first in Second Thought Theatre's staging of Martin McDonagh's A Skull in Connemara, then as a rich, disaffected teenager in Upstart's production of Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth. If he's in the cast, go see the show.
SMU theater student Abbey Siegworth made a lovely Eve in Dallas Theater Center's Old Testament drama In the Beginning... and let loose as a gawky-hilarious love-crazed Helena in director Kevin Moriarty's kicky, pop-music-infused A Midsummer Night's Dream, the first show at the Wyly. Chamblee Ferguson, Cedric Neal, Liz Mikel, Marcus Mauldin, Matthew Tompkins, Joe Nemmers, Robyn Flatt, Sally Nystuen Vahle, Bryan Pitts—that Midsummer cast was all stars.
Dallas theater newcomer Diana Sheehan was part of Lyric's revival of Moss Hart and Irving Berlin's As Thousands Cheer, then scored the female lead of the year in WaterTower Theatre's spectacular local premiere of the Tony-winning musical Grey Gardens. But Sheehan's "Little Edie" would have been considerably smaller had it not been for the magnificence of Pam Dougherty as her bed-bound mother, "Big Edie" Beale.
African-American Repertory Theater in DeSoto had an impressive second season. Company founder Irma P. Hall returned to a favorite role as the matriarch in A Raisin in the Sun, and she was stunning. Regina Washington, Vince McGill, Chris Piper, Eleanor Threatt, Elliot Gilbert II and Shundra Grubb did the best ensemble work of the year in August Wilson's Seven Guitars.
And if there's one performance that critics and audiences won't forget for years to come, it was Elias Taylorson as Barry Champlain in Upstart and Project X's incendiary production of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio this fall. As the Stern-like shock jock suffering an on-air breakdown, Taylorson was a ranting, quivering, raw nerve ending—the art of acting at its most intense.