The 10 finest theater productions in the Twin Cities last year

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Mark Benninghofen as Sweeney Todd

The Twin Cities never lacks for great theater, and 2015 reminded me why I have the greatest job in the world.

10. Frankenstein

Dangerous Productions' take on Mary Shelley's tale was messy, bloody, and scary as hell, especially when the only light came from flashlights carried by the actors.

9. Annapurna

A long-estranged couple comes together as one nears death. This was a story told with grace and humor by a pair of terrific performers at the Jungle Theater.

8. Extremities

Dark & Stormy brought audiences into a living room where a young woman fought off an attacker — and was then forced to decide whether he lived or died. Compelling acting and directing meant we also lived and died with every twist.

7. The Jungle Book

The upcoming film will have a hard time topping the Children's Theatre Company's engaging, engrossing, and — above all — fun production.

6. The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Molly Brown rose from rags to riches in the rough and tumble West. Her undeniable spirit made you positively giddy as she fought against the snooty upper class. Solid performances, a clever set, and strong singing made this a musical delight from Ten Thousand Things.

5. The Woodsman

Walter is not a good man. He has just been released from prison for sexually assaulting a young girl. On the outside, he's cut off from his family, eyed with suspicion by the police, and haunted by the desires he still feels. Adam Whisner gave one of the performances of the year in Theatre Pro Rata's production, which forced us to feel the monster's humanity.

4. Juno and the Paycock

Joe Dowling said goodbye to two decades at the Guthrie with his best directing in years. This rich production about impoverished tenement dwellers during the Irish Civil War was both hilarious and heartbreaking.

3. An Octoroon

This tremendous piece tackled America's race issues head on, retelling a 19th-century melodrama about a young woman whose part-slave ancestry could ruin her. It soon became clear we really haven't come that far in the last 150 years.

2. 105 Proof, or the Killing of Mack "The Silencer" Klein

In this Breaking-Bad-in-the-Prohibition-Era tale, a small-town bootlegger falls in with Chicago mobsters. As he rises in the organization, the safety of his family and hometown are threatened. It was a tale told with rare verve and almost unbearable intensity.

1. Sweeney Todd

Fueled by Mark Benninghofen's stunning performance in the title role, Theatre Latte Da's dark carnival of a musical featured a barber who kills his clients and cooks their remains. The grimy vibe added a razor's sharpness to Stephen Sondheim's gorgeous score. 



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