Anoinette Holman and Susan Perrin-Sallak in DoubtThe District Theatre's Doubt may be the most exceptionally performed, strongly directed production I've yet seen in the Quad Cities. Saturday night's flawless performance left me in awe, particularly for the production's perfect casting, and for how well director James Fairchild highlights playwright John Patrick Shanley's humor.

Narrowing down 2009's sensational stage portrayals into a list of 12 "favorites" is a hopeless task, really, so don't take this as any kind of last word on the subject; you'll find mention of amazing stage work all throughout my year-end coverage. Still, here's hoping you were able to catch at least a few of the following performances, which helped underline just how crazy with theatrical talent our area actually is.

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart in AdventurelandADVENTURELAND

My first awareness of writer/director Greg Mottola's Adventureland came at Christmastime, when some family members and I saw a trailer for the comedy before, of all things, a screening of Doubt. The movie's my-summer-at-an-amusement-park setup looked kind of promising, but given the preview's one-liners and visual gags, the supporting cast (Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig), and Mottola's credit as the director of Superbad, it seemed like an incredibly inappropriate teaser to run before John Patrick Shanley's nonsecular drama. When the trailer ended, my brother and I shared an incredulous look and a chuckle at the apparent incongruity. "Know your audience," he said with a laugh.

Jessica Stratton, Melissa McBain, and Jeremy Mahr in DoubtThere's a special thrill you get from a stage work that seems not just beautifully, but perfectly cast, and following the curtain call for the Green Room's Friday-evening presentation of Doubt: A Parable - currently playing at the Harrison Hilltop Theatre - that thrill stuck with me for the rest of the night, and into the next day.

Tyler Perry in Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to JailTYLER PERRY'S MADEA GOES TO JAIL

Tyler Perry's wildly popular, drag-act creation Madea - the tough-talking matriarch (played by Perry himself) with zero tolerance for foolishness, church, and most of her family members - is an admittedly entertaining figure. Yet she's a really odd character to build a movie around, because this bosomy yowler steadfastly refuses to change, or "grow," or develop in any way that could sustain a feature-length narrative; she's a one-joke, and one-rant, conceit. Maybe that's why it always feels like Madea is intruding on her films, even the ones with her name in the title. By necessity, the movies in which she appears have to treat her as a special guest star, because if they were just 100-ish minutes of Madea's antics, nothing would ever happen in them.

This past Friday, larger movie markets saw the debuts of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt, Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino, and Steven Soderbergh's Argentinia epic Che.

Our market, meanwhile, only got The Day the Earth Stood Still, Nothing Like the Holidays, and Delgo.

Sigh. Let's dive in, then.