"Devour the Snow" (Grove Theatre Company/Gem Theatre, Garden Grove): Daniel Bryan Cartmell's powerful performance and Thomas F. Bradac's taut direction made Abe Polksy's retelling of the Donner Party's disastrous trek through the High Sierra harrowingly real.
-- "The House of Blue Leaves" (Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa): A vibrant and vital handling of John Guare's very black comedy about the chaotic impact that Pope Paul VI's 1965 trip to New York City has on a family living in Queens.
-- "The Glass Menagerie" (Stop-Gap/Curtis Performing Arts Center, Brea): Although this production was a little self-conscious, it nonetheless was able to sensitively communicate Tennessee Williams' delicate messages about family and art.
-- "No Exit" (Alternative Repertory Theatre, Santa Ana): ART's inaugural production was unerringly faithful to Jean-Paul Sartre's dense and difficult existential classic. Not the usual first step for a new community troupe, but one that clearly showed ART's commitment to challenging drama.