BEST SEASON FOR A DIRECTOR (2006)
Two of the season's most memorable productions were the work of Israel Hicks. The Madwoman, an update of Giraudoux's Madwoman of Chaillot, focuses on the grandly near-destitute Countess Aurelia, who saves New York from greedy contractors. Hicks's production was brilliantly cast: Kathleen M. Brady was an inspiring Aurelia, and Rachel Duvall a gentle joy as the waitress, Irma. But there was also strength, joy and vitality throughout the ensemble, with exciting performances filling every niche and corner of the stage. When actors work with this much exuberance, you know there's inspiration coming from the director. Hicks assembled another extraordinary cast to give August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean -- a work of oceanic power and depth -- its full due.
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