New York Theatre Wire Critics Choose
Ten Best Shows of 2002-03 Season

By Philippa Wehle

The New York Theatre Wire has once again asked its reviewers to choose their top ten shows, seen between May 15 2002 and May 15, 2003, On, Off and Off-off Broadway. The choices were based on artistic merit alone. This year seven NYTW theater writers participated in the ballot. The final results were determined by calculating a numerical consensus from all the ballots received.

As always, there was much variety among the critics' choices this year, ranging from opera ("La Boheme") and musicals ("Gypsy") to serious drama ("Long Day's Journey Into Night"). It was hard to find a trend among the many selections of our reviewers. but clearly Broadway shows were in the forefront. It was surprising that shows as strong as "Enchanted April," for example, did not make the top ten even though they were on the top of at least one critic's list. Similarly, Lonnie Carter's "The Romance of Magno Rubio" was the real best play of the season for one critic but not for the others. One critic described the season as having been one of a lot of "very good revivals, the entertaining return of some very familiar faces and a smattering of surprises."

The majority agreed that "Hairspray" was hands down the best show with "Medea" as a close second. Interestingly, enthusiasms ranged from a play composed of interviews with real convicts awaiting execution, "The Exonerated," to a boulevard comedy, "Take me Out," about the coming out of a gay baseball player. Another favored choice was "Movin' Out," a dance concert complete with ten piece band and fabulous dance numbers by Twyla Tharp. And high marks for some also went to "Talking Heads," Alan Bennett's beautifully performed monologues.

"Top Ten" Shows of the 2002-03 Season

"Hairspray" by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meeham [Neil Simon Theatre ]
"Medea" by Euripides, Abbey Theatre [Brooklyn Academy of Music]
"Long Day's Journey Into Night" by Eugene O'Neill, Eugene O'Neill [Plymouth Theatre]
"The Exonerated" by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen [45 Bleeker]
"Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Toward the Somme" by Frank Mcguinness [Lincoln Center Theater]
"Movin' Out," conceived, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp with music and lyrics Billy Joel [Richard Rodgers Theatre]
"Talking Heads," by Alan Bennett [Minetta Lane Theatre]
"Dinner at Eight" by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber [Vivian Beaumont Theater]
"Take Me Out" by Richard Greenbert [Walter Kerr Theatre]
"La Boheme" by Puccini [Broadway Theater].

Congratulations to the winners!

© copyright 2003 Metro New Media, Inc.

Further information please contact: Philippa Wehle, author of this article, at: (212) 864-6642.

Senior Columnist: Glenn Loney. Feature Writer: Jerry Tallmer. Columnists: Randy Gener (Theatre), Susan Haskins (Broadway), Larry Litt (Comedy), Maya Amis (Cabaret), Marilyn Abalos (Asian Theatre). Critics: Margaret Croyden, Randy Gener, Brandon Judell, Melinda Guttmann, Philippa Wehle, Ed Rubin, Perry Bialor, Paulanne Simmons, Ben Spatz.


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