Mare Trevathan Philpott is always a joy to watch, and in Skriker, she got to strut almost all her stuff in one evening. The Skriker is a strange, shape-changing, atavistic fairy creature who talks nonstop in a mix of puns, metaphors, rhymes and allusions. She manifests herself differently to each individual she encounters -- wheedling, seducing, empathizing and bullying as needed. In a tour de force performance, Philpott did all of this with clarity, feeling and intelligence.
Harvey Blanks has given two brilliant performances in plays by August Wilson this year, and he wins for his work as the strange, affable, dangerous Turnbo in Jitney. Blanks can be incredibly funny or full of emotion. Whatever the sentiment, he gives it everything he's got -- heart, soul, voice and body.


Roslyn Washington played the kind of best friend every woman wants: warm and empathetic, full of dumb, endearing jokes. And her humorously faked orgasm was far richer and funnier than Meg Ryan's gasps and twitches in When Harry Met Sally....


Horton was amazingly funny as a self-important academic in Bernice/Butterfly, smirking at his own witticisms, indulging in professorial chuckles and hand rubbings, writing decisively on the blackboard. He took the role right to the edge of absurdity, but stopped at the brink to remind us of his character's pained and private reality.


You rarely come across a genuine original, especially a truly original performance, but Jessica Austgen is one: sort of pouty, very precise in movement and speech, capable of both absolute gooniness and breathy seduction. I've never seen anything like her lean, mustached Sir Andrew Aguecheek in the Theatre Group's Twelfth Night. But she wins best comic actress for her remarkable melding of innocence, befuddlement, certainty and circuitry as the robot-woman Jacie Triplethree.


In Love's Labor's Lost, Don Adriano de Armado is almost always played purely as a buffoon, and an endlessly talkative one at that. So, like many of Shakespeare's extravagantly comic characters with their time-bound puns and word games, he tends to be more annoying than amusing. But in this production, John Hutton created something altogether different, a man who may be ridiculous, but who's also vulnerable, surprising and sometimes -- in an odd way -- downright clever. It's an interpretation that adds freshness and dimension to a venerable play.


Unlike most actresses who play Olivia, Jadelynn Stahl has no time for the character's usual posing and passivity. Instead, her Olivia is a luscious, black-haired beauty with a melodious voice and a gift for farce who seizes life by the scruff of the neck and shakes it till she gets the love and happiness she craves.


When you've got either Baierlein or his wife, Sallie Diamond, on stage, you've got fine theater. Put them together as Bill and Betty, the hospitable couple in Greek Treats, and the result is an evening of pure pleasure. Entranced by their mythical off-stage friends, Jason and Medea, Bill and Betty rebel against their boring suburban life. Bill dreams of Dionsyian sex, Betty of an all-woman commune where she could unleash her creative impulses. Theirs is the kind of quietly skilled acting that doesn't advertise itself, but you can see the flame of passion shining through Bill and Betty's conventional exteriors.


John Sloan played the romantic, caustic, moody Berowne in Love's Labor's Lost with energy, wit, youthful exuberance and a genuine understanding of the language. His performance confirmed the expectation raised last year by his irrepressible Mairtin in A Skull in Connemara that this was an actor to watch.


As Collected Stories begins, a worshipful young writer comes to a famed and brilliant older author for advice. As the play progresses, the novice matures into a poised young comer, a surrogate daughter to and ultimate betrayer of her mentor. Heather Nicolson brought charm, vitality and intelligence to the role, along with an increasingly evident steely backbone.

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