Midsize Theaters Delivered Big in 2016

Bedlam’s “As You Will” at Central Square was a 2016 highlight


by Michele Markarian


2016 was a banner year for Boston mid-sized theaters. Here are my best-of-the-best picks!  This was a hard list to compile, as there were so many outstanding shows (click on show name for review):


New Repertory Theater’s Via Dolorosa, January:

David Bryan Jackson’s 90-minute performance as a man who goes to Israel to explore Jewish identity was so many things: Informative.  Moving.  Insightful.  Funny.  Perplexing.  The more answers the playwright received the more questions arose.  It’s rare that a piece is both emotionally challenging and intellectually satisfying; David Hare’s play does both.


Underground Railway Theater’s The Convert, February:

Wow.  Like a good novel that immerses you into its world so thoroughly that you don’t want it to end, Danai Gurira ‘s The Convert’s two and a half hours were so absorbing that I barely realized I was watching a piece of theater.  Maurice Emmanuel Parent and Liana Asim, as the heart of the show’s movement, were stunning.


Stoneham Theater’s Sweet Charity, April:

Okay, by my own admission, one of the most WTF? books of all time, but the fabulous Ilyse Robbins and the outstanding cast of Sweet Charity made it all completely plausible.  From the set design to the acting and choreography, this show was just a ton of fun, with a hummable score to boot.


Bedlam’s Twelfth Night, or As You Will, at the Central Square Theater, June:

Even if you’ve never had a desire to be onstage in your life, watching this incredible troupe perform would kindle that desire – they had so much fun with not just one, but two versions of the same show. By far the best Shakespeare I’ve seen all year. I hope they come back.


Company, The Lyric Stage, September:

 Hard to lose with this Sondheim musical, for sure, but the Lyric Stage, under the capable direction of Spiro Veloudos, managed to bring something a little different to the surface.  The musical direction was inspired, particularly Teresa Winner Blume and Erica Spyres in “I’m Not Getting Married” and Leigh Barrett’s devastatingly understated “Ladies Who Lunch”.


Speakeasy Theater Company’s The Scottsboro Boys, October:

This production of the Kander and Ebb musical, with book by David Thompson, is flawless.  Beyond moving.  Packs an emotional punch that will linger long after the show is over.  And lucky for you, if you haven’t seen it already, it is playing again this month.  Get tickets while they last.



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