Best Local Theater (2002)
This theater space, like a good actor, never does it the same way twice. For every play, the 32,000-square-foot interior of this glass and concrete space is reconfigured. Sometimes it's arena-style, sometimes thrust. For Book of Days, the Lanford Wilson drama performed this summer, actors trod a long runway that ran nearly the full length of the theater. For Always...Patsy Cline, the 200 seats and stage were shifted into an intimate, clublike setting. But aside from the aesthetic aspects of the space itself, what WaterTower offers is a remarkably high-quality approach to its productions. Artistic director Terry L. Martin mixes it up with the choices of plays each season, with even the tried-and-true titles getting a fresh twist. This year offered theatergoers the classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but with a new emphasis on the men in the play instead of the bitchy gal in the slip. Wilson's serious Book of Days was a modern, dour take on Our Town, followed by the unapologetically sentimental twang of Always... Patsy Cline. Their 2002-'03 season begins in October with the old standard You Can't Take It With You, followed in January by the area premiere of The Laramie Project, Moises Kaufman's portrait of America inspired by the murder of Matthew Shepard. And forget the Dickens-style Christmas show. Out in Addison, you'll get David Sedaris' bitterly funny account of life in Macy's elf hell in The Santaland Diaries again this year. With other local theaters struggling to stay afloat, WaterTower has seen attendance increase more than 50 percent over the 2001 season. Good actors, good directing, good plays, good time. Simple as that. Oh, and let's not forget the cushy new theater seats they've recently installed. Audience appreciation is always appreciated.