DCTA 2022 Staff Favorites: Outstanding Professional Performances

2022 was a year of spectacular performances on DC-area stages as actors came back from COVID closures ready to give it their all. Here are the professional performances that stuck with our writers throughout the year.

Note: DC Theater Arts does not publish a “best of” list. If you got on a stage this year, we think you are the best. Since our writers all see different shows, and no DCTA writer sees all the shows produced in our region, this list only represents the subjective opinions and recollections of our writers. These are the performances that left an indelible impression on us.

XOXO,
Nicole Hertvik
Editor and Publisher

Individual Performances

Hend Ayoub as herself in Home? at Voices Festival Productions
Personal and artistic persistence in Hend Ayoub’s solo ‘Home?’ by Sophia Howes

Jasmine Joy Brooks as Lauren in The Mamalogues at 1st Stage
Bougie Black single moms have their say in ‘The Mamalogues’ at 1st Stage by Gwyneth Sholar

RJ Brown as Leo in White Noise at Studio Theatre
‘White Noise’ is a shock to the system in stunning staging at Studio by John Stoltenberg
A rap with RJ Brown, the slave player in ‘White Noise’ at Studio by John Stoltenberg

Michael Burgos as Abel in Fade at Unexpected Stage Company
A Latina writer faces race and class inequality in ‘Fade’ at Unexpected Stage Company by Em Skow

Kristen Bush as Emma in ‘People, Places & Things.’ Photo by Margot Schulman.

Kristen Bush as Emma in People, Places & Things at Studio Theatre
You could get hooked on Kristen Bush in ‘People, Places & Things’ at Studio by John Stoltenberg

James Caverly as Harold Hill in The Music Man at Olney Theatre Center
A powerful and moving ‘Music Man’ comes to Olney Theatre Center by David Gerson

Tamieka Chavis as Lizzie Curry in The Rainmaker at 1st Stage
Uplifting American classic ‘The Rainmaker’ triumphs at 1st Stage by Caroline Bock

Tamieka Chavis (Lizzie Curry) in ‘The Rainmaker.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Amari Cheatom as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet at Shakespeare Theatre Company
The acclaim and agony of a great Black actor, in STC’s ‘Red Velvet’ by Sophia Howes

Phoenix Cross as Doctor Van Helsing in Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy (Really) at Rorschach Theatre
Rorschach Theatre puts feminist teeth into ‘Dracula’ and it’s bloody good by John Stoltenberg

Nate Dendy as Ariel in The Tempest at Round House Theatre (in collaboration with Folger Theatre) 
‘The Tempest’ at Round House is big, bold, and magical by Jared Strange

Ali Ewoldt as Amalia Balash in She Loves Me at Signature Theatre
Signature romances a delightfully entertaining ‘She Loves Me’ by Bob Ashby

Teresa Ferrara in Requiem at IN Series
A flat-out glorious ‘Requiem’ marks IN Series’ move past Mozart by Gregory Ford

Lisa Stephen Friday as herself in Trans Am at Keegan Theatre
Lisa Stephen Friday in ‘Trans Am’ at Keegan is downright charismatic by Bob Ashby

Lisa Stephen Friday in ‘Trans Am.’ Photo by Cameron Whitman Photography.

Ryan J. Haddad as himself in Hi, Are You Single? at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Ryan J. Haddad’s brilliant ‘Hi, Are You Single?’ dazzles at Woolly Mammoth by Gwyneth Sholar

Eric Hissom as Prospero in The Tempest at Round House Theatre (in collaboration with Folger Theatre)
‘The Tempest’ at Round House is big, bold, and magical by Jared Strange

Jon Hudson Odom as Peaches in ‘Ain’t No Mo’.’ Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Jon Hudson-Odom as Peaches in Ain’t No Mo at Woolly Mammoth Theatre/Baltimore Center Stage
Now boarding at gate 1619, a hilarious ‘Ain’t No Mo’’ from Woolly Mammoth by Ajani Jones

Jeremy Keith Hunter as Mlima in Mlima’s Tale at 1st Stage
An unforgettable elephant haunts ‘Mlima’s Tale’ by Lynn Nottage at 1st Stage by Gregory Ford

Jeremy Keith Hunter as Mlima in ‘Mlima’s Tale’ (background: Deidra LaWan Starnes and Shaquille Stewart). Photo by DJ Corey Photography.

Michael Innocenti as Dave in The Outsider at Keegan Theatre
A screwball farce and powerhouse performers in ‘The Outsider’ at Keegan Theatre by Gregory Ford

Jade Jones as Belle in Beauty and the Beast at Olney Theatre Center
Fresh and fun ‘Beauty and the Beast’ returns to Olney Theatre Center by Julia Amis

Jamil Joseph as Christopher in The Playboy of the Western World at Solas Nua
Solas Nua’s new ‘Playboy of the Western World’ is now a laugh riot by Susan Galbraith

Kit Krull as Lady Macbeth in ‘Drunk Shakespeare’ at Sage Theatre
‘Drunk Shakespeare’ gets hilariously tipsy at Sage Theatre by Gwyneth Sholar

Jaucqir LaFond in ‘Blue Door.’ Photos by DJ Corey Photography.

Jaucqir LaFond as Simon, Rex, and Jesse in Blue Door at Perisphere Theatre
Perisphere Theater opens a powerful and poetic ‘Blue Door’ by John Stoltenberg

Sophia Lillis as Emily in Heroes of the Fourth Turning at Studio Theatre
‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning’ at Studio shocks the system by John Stoltenberg

Ron Litman as the Professor in ‘The Time Machine.’ Photo by Jae Yi Photography.

Ron Litman as the Professor in The Time Machine at Scena Theatre
A first-rate adaptation of ‘The Time Machine’ at Scena Theatre by Sophia Howes

Kristolynn Lloyd as Anna Murray Douglass in American Prophet at Arena Stage
Unforgettably powerful ‘American Prophet’ is on fire at Arena by Bob Ashby
The woman who freed Frederick Douglass: a Q&A with Kristolyn Lloyd by John Stoltenberg

Akira Matsui as Music, Hope, and Apollo in The Nightsong of Orpheus at IN Series
‘Nightsong of Orpheus’ from IN Series is a magnificent musical spectacle by Gregory Ford

Robert Mellon as Iago in Othello at IN Series
‘Othello/Desdemona,’ IN Series’ unique two-evening opera, is epic by Gregory Ford

Christian Montgomery in ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ Photo by Chris Mueller.

Christian Montgomery as Jon in tick, tick… BOOM! at Monumental Theatre Company
Monumental’s fantastic ‘tick, tick… BOOM!’ is a joy by Kendall Mostafavi

Nova Y. Payton as Ruthie in Grace at Ford’s Theatre
‘Grace,’ an overwhelming show of gratitude, premieres at Ford’s Theatre by Gregory Ford

Nova Y. Payton as Ruthie in ‘Grace.’ Photo by André Chung.

Cristina Pitter as Frankie in it’s not a trip it’s a journey at Round House Theatre

Susan Marie Rhea as Louise Peakes in The Outsider at Keegan Theatre
A screwball farce and powerhouse performers in ‘The Outsider’ at Keegan Theatre by Gregory Ford

Austin Rubinoski as Feste in Twelfth Night at Classic Theatre of Maryland
‘Twelfth Night’ comes to gorgeous life at Classic Theatre of Maryland by Charles Green

Austin Rubinoski as Phil Davis in White Christmas at Classic Theatre of Maryland
Tap dancers steal the show in ‘White Christmas’ at Classic Theatre of Maryland by Andy Arnold

Kimberly Schraf as the mother in Sheboygan at the Capital Fringe Festival
2022 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Sheboygan’ by novelist Louis Bayard by Nicole Hertvik

Bobby Smith as Ladislav Sipros in She Loves Me at Signature Theatre
Signature romances a delightfully entertaining ‘She Loves Me’ by Bob Ashby

Zoë Bowen Smith as Laura in Die, Mr. Darcy, Die at Best Medicine Rep
‘Die, Mr. Darcy, Die!’ is witty and winning at Best Medicine Rep by Nicole Hertvik

John Douglas Thompson as Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice.’ Photo by Henry Grossman.

John Douglas Thompson as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare Theatre Company
A richly illuminating ‘Merchant of Venice’ for our time at Shakespeare Theatre by Sophia Howes

Kathryn Tkel as Jackie Kennedy in Change Agent at Arena Stage
‘Change Agent’ at Arena asks if a JFK mistress made history by Bob Ashby
Kathryn Tkel on playing Jackie Kennedy in ‘Change Agent’ at Arena by Sophia Howes

Ben Topa as Dracula in Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Tragedy (Really) at Rorschach Theatre
Rorschach Theatre puts feminist teeth into ‘Dracula’ and it’s bloody good by John Stoltenberg

Craig Wallace as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre

Kara-Tameika Watkins as Angelina Terry in A Christmas Angel at Creative Cauldron
Creative Cauldron’s ‘Christmas Angel’ shines bright with delight by Daniella Ignacio

Antonio Michael Woodard as Emmett Till in ‘The Ballad of Emmett Till.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Antonio Michael Woodard as Emmett Till in The Ballad of Emmett Till and That Summer in Sumner at Mosaic Theater Company
‘My job is to catch the conscience’: Antonio Michael Woodard on playing Emmett Till in ‘The Till Trilogy’ at Mosaic by John Stoltenberg
‘The Till Trilogy’ at Mosaic Theater is beautiful, haunting, and horrifying by Gregory Ford
Brutality and transfiguration in ‘The Ballad of Emmett Till’ at Mosaic Theater by Gregory Ford
Elusive truth and justice in ‘That Summer in Sumner’ at Mosaic Theater by Gregory Ford

Ensemble and Collaboration

Sometimes an entire cast works so beautifully together that they all deserve recognition for their collective achievement. Other times, such as in some of 2022’s quiet two-handers, or in the explosive creation of Caliban as a perpetually entwined creature in Round House’s The Tempest, a pair of actors rely on each other so deeply that their performances cannot be considered apart.

A.D. 16 at Olney Theatre Center: full cast
Olney’s new musical ‘A.D. 16’ entertains immensely by Darby DeJarnette
Exegesis of a sexy Jesus: A look at love in ‘A.D. 16’ by John Stoltenberg

The ensemble of ‘A.D. 16.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane Photography.

Beauty and the Beast at Olney Theatre Center: full cast
Fresh and fun ‘Beauty and the Beast’ returns to Olney Theatre Center by Julia Amis

Improvised Shakespeare Company at the Kennedy Center: entire ensemble
Mirth off the cuff from Improvised Shakespeare Company at KenCen by Chad Kinsman

America’s Requiem: A Knee on the Neck at Strathmore: soloists J’Nai Bridges, Norman Shankle, Kenneth Overton, and Janai Brugger
A monumental cantata remembers George Floyd by Gregory Ford

Requiem at IN Series: full ensemble
A flat-out glorious ‘Requiem’ marks IN Series’ move past Mozart by Gregory Ford

Oliver Mercer, Teresa Ferrara, Noelle McMurty, Daniel J. Smith, Aryssa Leigh Burrs, Jarrod Lee, and Gayssie Lugo in ‘Requiem.’ Photo by Bayou Elom.

The Till Trilogy at Mosaic Theater: Billie Krishawn, Vaughn Ryan Midder, Rolonda Watts, Antonio Michael Woodard, and the entire ensemble
‘The Till Trilogy’ at Mosaic Theater is beautiful, haunting, and horrifying by Gregory Ford

Desdemona at IN Series: Maribeth Diggle and Claron McFadden
‘Othello/Desdemona,’ IN Series’ unique two-evening opera, is epic by Gregory Ford

Parable of the Sower at Strathmore with Woolly Mammoth: Marie Tatti Aqeel, Jared Wayne Gladly, Toshi Reagon, and the entire team
‘Parable of the Sower’ at Strathmore becomes a musical community ritual by Gregory Ford

A Trip to Bountiful at Ford’s Theatre: Nancy Robinette as Carrie, Kimberly Gilbert as Jessie Mae Watts, and Emily Kester as Thelma
Ford’s lyrical ‘Trip to Bountiful’ travels back to an illusory time by John Stoltenberg

Michael J. Mainwaring (Daniel) and Josh Adams (Chris/tian) in ‘In His Hands.’ Photo by Chris Banks.

In His Hands at Mosaic Theater: Michael J. Mainwaring as Daniel and Josh Adams as Chris
‘In His Hands’ at Mosaic asks if it’s OK with God to be gay by John Stoltenberg
Benjamin Benne on queer love and Christian faith in Mosaic’s ‘In His Hands’  by Nathan Pugh

The Joy That Carries You at Olney Theatre Center: Dani Stoller as Shiri and Billie Krishawn as Alaia
‘The Joy That Carries You’ at Olney is a gem of the theater season by Bob Ashby

Dani Stoller as Shiri and Billie Krishawn as Alaia in ‘The Joy That Carries You.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane Photography.

Major Barbara at Washington Stage Guild: Laura Giannarelli as Lady Britomart, Emilie Faith Thompson as Barbara, Hunter Ringsmith as Charles Lomax and Snobby Price, Justino Brokaw as Stephen Undershaft and Bill Walker, and Stephen Patrick Martin as Andrew Undershaft
Wit is on dazzling display in ‘Major Barbara’ at Washington Stage Guild by Sophia Howes

The Servant of Two Masters at Synetic Theatre: Vato Tsikuvirishli as Truffaldino and Maryam Najafzada as Smeraldina
A magical and joy-filled ‘Servant of Two Masters’ opens at Synetic Theatre by Sophia Howes

Vato Tsikurishvili as Trufaldino and Maryam Najafzada as Smeraldina in ‘The Servant of Two Masters.’ Photo by Johnny Shryock Photography.

Maz and Bricks at Solas Nua: Emily Kester as Maz and Jonathan Feuer as Bricks
In Solas Nua’s ‘Maz and Bricks,’ a theatrical gem and an urgent issue by Sophia Howes
Solas Nua’s ‘Maz and Bricks’ and the war on abortion rights by Sophia Howes

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Folger Theatre: full cast
Riotous imagination casts a spell on Folger’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by Sophia Howes

Cecelia Auerswald as Mileva Marić and Sasha Olinick as Albert Einstein in ‘Einstein’s Wife.’ Photo by Patrick Gallagher Landes.

Einstein’s Wife at Expats Theatre: Cecelia Auerswald as Mileva Marić and Sasha Olinick as Albert Einstein
In ‘Einstein’s Wife’ at ExPats Theatre, the downside of marrying a genius by Sophia Howes

My Body No Choice at Arena Stage: full cast
Brave voices raise consciousness in ‘My Body No Choice’ at Arena Stage by Sophia Howes

Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare Theatre Company: Kate Jennings Grant as Beatrice, Rick Holmes as Benedick, and Edward Gero as Leonato
This just in: STC’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ is dazzling and inspired by Amy Kotkin

Ryan Sellers and Hassiem Muhammad as Caliban in ‘The Tempest.’ Photo by Scott Suchman.

The Tempest at Round House Theatre: Hassiem Muhammad and Ryan Sellers as Caliban
‘The Tempest’ at Round House is big, bold, and magical by Jared Strange

The Tempest at Round House Theatre (in collaboration with Folger Theatre): Eric Hissom as Prospero and Megan Graves as Miranda
‘The Tempest’ at Round House is big, bold, and magical by Jared Strange

The Tempest at Round House Theatre (in collaboration with Folger Theatre): full cast
‘The Tempest’ at Round House is big, bold, and magical by Jared Strange