The Year in Theater

 

CRAIG WRIGHT, PLAYWRIGHT

Ten Thousand Things' production of The Most Happy Fella was notable for its deep sincerity, great performances, and overall cockeyed optimism. Aimee Bryant and Stephen D'Ambrose were amazingly touching as a mismatched couple trying to make the best of a difficult situation and, as always, Michelle Hensley's minimalist production values were far more evocative and affecting than many of the million-dollar worlds that routinely get assembled in the touring houses of our fair cities. And if periodically preferring Ms. Hensley's low-tech vision to the lavishness of Broadway betrays a sliver of liberal elitism, count me in; there's more than one way to be a populist. Whether a given Ten Thousand Things production is an aesthetic success (as Happy Fella was) or not, I always leave Ms. Hensley's shows feeling like a real human being on a real planet with real moral choices and real opportunities to grow and give. And when you get a little song to hum on the way out the door, what could be better than that?

 

JOHN TROYER, MEMBER, PRAXIS GROUP

In August I attended the funeral for Kevin Vance. Kevin was a local actor and, more important, a genuinely sincere individual. No matter how many years would pass between our encounters, Kevin would always say hello with a personal warmth that I rarely encounter. We both attended the University of Minnesota during the mid-1990s and worked on a series of plays together while pursuing our undergraduate degrees. An unexpected and tragic death like Kevin's is never easy to articulate in words, but I often remember something Kevin said to me while we labored on a lukewarm production of The Crucible at the U of M. We were both sitting backstage on a bench and Kevin leaned over and said, "You know, it could be worse." "Like how?" I asked. "I don't know, but I'm sure it could be somehow." Always the optimist, even when Arthur Miller plays could conceivably not be worse, Kevin let few things drag him down to the level of cynicism. Kevin Vance will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by many people in the Twin Cities. Mitakuye Owasin, Kevin.

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