As a theater critic attending approximately five dozen productions a year locally, I can testify that not every moment onstage is a golden one. But each season there are a few memorable souvenirs I take with me as I leave the theater. Here are five from this past season.
1. In the Asolo’s Filumena, aristocrat Domenico (Patrick James Clarke) is tortured by curiosity about which of three grown men is his biological son with ex-prostitute Filumena-that is, until all three of them call him "Papa" for the first time. All questions melt away in a fit of paternal pride and affection.
2. In a scene that works the tear ducts every time, Peter Pan (Corinne Woodland in the Manatee Players’ production) urges the audience to demonstrate their belief in fairies in order to revive the fading Tinker Bell. They respond with applause, and sure enough that little streak of light is soon zooming across the stage again.
3. In Venice Little Theatre’s Stage II production of Denial, a noted Holocaust survivor whose writings on the subject have made him a hero is exposed as a liar by another survivor (Peter Barcia) in a highly charged scene that ends with a cleansing act of forgiveness.
4. In the Theatre Works/Banyan Theater Company production of Sea Marks, a lonely Irish fisherman (V. Craig Heidenreich) makes a surprising admission to the woman he loves (Tessie Hogan)-he is, as he puts it delicately, "a spinster man" who’s still a virgin in his 40s. Handled with less sensitivity, the scene could have been unbelievable or just awkward. Here it was just right.
5. There were a lot of emotional renditions of country, folk and pop tunes written by women in Florida Studio Theatre’s cabaret production of Guitar Girls. But one that was just for fun was Goodbye, Earl, the Dixie Chicks’ tongue-in-cheek recounting of an abused wife’s very final act of revenge. Now that’s girl power!