Theater made us grapple with love, hate, life and death: the best of 2019 arts and entertainment included these 10 stage shows.
1. Guys and Dolls. Frank Loesser's classic musical can seem stale because it's so often done. Director Kent Gash put fresh wit, style and heart back into the show in his bravura production that wowed audiences at the Guthrie.
2. Matilda. Wunderkinds Sofia Salmela, Audrey Mojica and Lillian Hochman alternated the title role in director Peter Brosius' triumphant and heartwarming Children's Theatre production, which also featured an indelible turn by Emily Gunyou Halaas.
3. Pipeline. Dominique Morisseau's 2017 drama got a taut, walloping staging by Lou Bellamy with brilliant performances by a cast led by Erika LaVonn as a teacher and mother, and Kory LaQuess Pullam as her in-trouble son at Penumbra Theatre.
4. Metamorphoses. It took a long time to get here but that did not lessen the power of Mary Zimmerman's Tony-winning retelling of Roman myths at the Guthrie. With compelling performances in a reflecting pool, this show was a baptism in pathos and beauty.
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Director Ellen Fenster drew captivating, honest performances from her Yellow Tree ensemble in an emotionally raw production of Simon Stephens' gut-punching drama.
6. School Girls: Or, the African Mean Girls Play. Director Shá Cage tapped a stellar, lyrical ensemble to make us feel the dreams and devastation of the pageant-watching young women at an all-girls school in Jocelyn Bioh's poetic play at Jungle Theater.
7. Shul. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, the Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company production of Sheldon Wolf's new drama took on legacy, tradition and stereotype with humor and sophistication.
8. Steel Magnolias. In the company of such stalwarts as Sally Wingert and Austene Van, Adelin Phelps delivered a breakout performance in Lisa Rothe's witty production of the Robert Harling dramedy on the Guthrie stage.
9. A New Brain. The subject matter doesn't lend itself to frolicsome musical theater, but director Ben McGovern made this rarely seen Bigfoot of musicals an inventive, fetching delight at Artistry.
10. Blood Knot. Pillsbury House Theatre's Athol Fugard apartheid-era play does not always hold up well, but heavyweight actors James A. Williams and Stephen Yoakam made it gripping under Stephen DiMenna's smart direction.