Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wisey Best Director: Ryan Higgins, The Comedy of Errors

The nominees for best director are:

Ryan Higgins, The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage
Bill Rauch, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Jake Groshong, The Full Monty, Balagan Theatre
Jason Harber, Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre
Tyrone Brown, Mr. Jibbers, 14/48
Brian Faker, Just Drink It, 14/48
Sam Hagen, The Only Leg He's Got, Death/Sex I, Balagan Theatre
Terri Weagant, The Best Daddy, Death/Sex I, Balagan Theatre

And the winner of the Wisey for best director of 2009 is Ryan Higgins for his marvelous work on The Comedy of Errors for GreenStage.

For some reason we didn't do a best director award for  2008, the first year for the Wiseys. Maybe we didn't have the budget or something. Had we done a director award, Ryan Higgins (at right in a photo by Jake Groshong) may well have won it for his fabulous Othello at Balagan Theatre. Higgins again demonstrated his grasp of the Bard with Comedy of Errors. As my Sweetie, the official scorer, noted in her post on the Best Costume Wisey, also won by Comedy, Higgins did pretty much everything exactly right. He's got a great knack both for understanding the text and for seeing the new possibilities therein. His decision to add to the confusion of Comedy by cross-casting worked marvelously, and he got great performances out of a well-chosen and talented cast. Shakespeare in the park can be a challenge, but Higgins and crew were up to the task in one of the most entertaining productions of the year.

Higgins was an actor in Balagan's hit production of Elephant's Graveyard, for which director Jason Harbor also received a Wisey nomination. Harber's decision to keep the entire cast on stage for the entire play really worked, and the play was an emotional punch in the gut. Jake Groshong received a nomination for another Balagan show, The Full Monty, which also won great critical reviews. The "turntable" stage was especially inspired, and Groshong assembled a great cast that had a lot of fun on a supremely entertaining production. Bill Rauch created a marvelous Equivocation that ran for eight months at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then did a month-long encore at the Seattle Rep.

We had a long list of best-director nominees mostly because we wanted a chance to do a shout-out for those who created some marvelous one-act plays as part of either 14/48 or Balagan's Death/Sex. Weisenheimer is still haunted by Tyrone Brown's Mr. Jibbers, and Sam Hagen, Terri Weagant, and Brian Faker also delivered memorable plays. Higgins stood a little taller than the rest and is one of our favorite directors in town.

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