The Pitch Best of 2013 Honors Spinning Tree…twice!

Wednesday October 9, 2013

The Pitch Kansas City Best of 2013

Critics’ Choice Awards in Arts & Entertainment

BEST GROWTH

Spinning Tree Theatre

Local theater is a fertile field of dreams — if they build it, we will go. Around here, more and more new players have been doing just that and, in the process, also drafting teams of local designers and actors (the better to see both new and familiar faces) and giving us more shows. The nonprofit Spinning Tree Theatre first sprouted on the scene in April 2011 with Make Me a Song. The company continued to flower with a two-show season in 2011–12 (see “Best Recovery,” Best of KC 2012), and co-founders Andy Parkhurst and Michael Grayman have been growing Spinning Tree into a three-show season with professionally mounted and well-pruned productions. Last year, we got into a famous diva’s head in Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning Master Class; we were swept up in award–winning playwright Donald Margulies’ Shipwrecked! An Entertainment; and we explored sexuality in Michael John LaChiusa’s musical Hello Again. And all we had to do was get there.

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BEST ADVENTURE

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment

The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont As Told By Himself engulfed us in the tall tales — and the published accounts — of a bona fide late-19th-century celebrity. The small, talented cast — Charles Fugate (as de Rougemont), Bob Linebarger and Jennie Greenberry — captivated us with yarns of 30 years’ shipwrecked and, under the direction of Michael Grayman, brought the adventures to big, believable life. In the intimate space of the Paul Mesner Puppet Studio, we came to imagine a ship at sea, a giant octopus, typhoon winds, and a deserted Australian Outback. Were de Rougemont’s colorful descriptions rugged truth or fanciful make-believe? Ultimately, there was a different exploration under way: that of the human mind. Donald Margulies’ script then asked if this man believed his alternate reality. Thanks to this show’s magic, we’re left to wonder still.

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