2018’s Best of Theater

Our critics share their picks for the best of the year’s South Sound stage

By Alec Clayton, Rev. Adam McKinney on January 4, 2019

Before I started reviewing theater a few years ago, I was only vaguely aware of how many good productions are put up in the South Sound over the course of a year. This year was my first full year of reviewing shows on a more active basis, splitting duties with the great Alec Clayton, so I was finally able to get a full picture of the astonishing array of talent we're fortunate to have in our local theater scene -- and we couldn't even see all of it. Year-end lists being all the rage, I asked Alec to provide his picks for the top shows staged in the South Sound in 2018, and I've provided mine. It's a testament to the quality of the choices available that Alec and I share only two picks.


Alec: The Art of Racing in the Rain at Harlequin Productions was mesmerizing, thanks in large part to Xander Layden's amazing performance as -- of all things -- a dog.

Adam: Beauty and the Beast at Tacoma Musical Playhouse did what TMP does best: produce a lush, gorgeous spectacle. Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts (Chris Serface, Mauro Bozzo and Diane Bozzo) were utterly charming, and the set pieces were awe-inspiring.


Alec: Tennessee Williams' classic The Glass Menagerie at Lakewood Playhouse with Niclas Olson as Tom reminding us why the golden age of drama was golden.

Adam: The Pillowman was shocking, daunting, darkly funny, and utterly daring for Tacoma Little Theatre to put up. A play as divisive as this, is bound to attract its share of detractors and supporters, and I count myself happily with the latter.


Alec: Catch Me If You Can at Tacoma Musical Playhouse with Jake Atwood as Frank Abagnale Jr., was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

Adam: The close quarters of Dukesbay Theater's black box space are the perfect setting for Bent, the best show I've seen from the Changing Scene Theatre Northwest. Words can't do justice to how unexpectedly tragic and timely this concentration camp-set drama was.


Alec: The Pillowman at Tacoma Little Theatre. As taut and gritty as a play can be with strong performances from its four-man cast with Jacob Tice, Sean Neely, Andrew Fry and Christian Carvajal.

Adam: Watching Lakewood Playhouse's Little Shop of Horrors left me positively beaming. For my money, I saw no other musical this year that so perfectly balanced wonderful music, sharp humor, and such a strikingly dark streak. The design was outstanding, with a full-scale man-eating plant being a watershed moment for Lakewood Playhouse.


Alec: American Idiot at Lakewood Playhouse was the musical hit of the season. It was powerful, gripping, with fabulous music, top-notch directing by John Munn and a huge and exciting cast led by Mark Alford as Johnny the Billie Joe Armstrong character.

Adam: I was completely won over by Lakewood Playhouse's The Glass Menagerie. Blending fabulous performances with seductive lighting and set design, the show truly gave the impression of lingering in fading memories. To me, no more evocative show was staged in 2018.