by Philippa Wehle

For the fourth year, the New York Theatre Wire asked its writers to list the ten best shows they had seen in the past season between May 1, 2000 and May 1, 2001 and to list them, in order of preference. In keeping with our tradition, we require our writers to disqualify themselves if they have not seen a fair cross-section of the season's offerings On, Off and Off-off Broadway. [Our publisher always disqualifies himself ex officio]. Seven of our writers responded with enticing lists of a wide variety of shows.

"Top Ten" Shows of the 2000-2001 Season

Mel Brooks' "The Producers" [St. James Theatre]

Theatre de Complicite's "Mnemonic" [John Jay College Theater]

Tom Stoppard's "The Invention of Love" [The Lyceum Theatre]

Terence McNally's "The Full Monty" [Eugene O'Neill Theater]

David Auburn's "Proof" [Walter Kerr Theatre]

Robert Lepage's "The Far Side of the Moon" [Henson International Festival of Puppet Theatre at The Public Theater]

Alan Ayckbourn's "Comic Potential" [The Manhattan Theatre Club]

Ping Chong's "Secret History" [Ping Chong & Co. at The Ohio Theater]

Ronnie Burkett's "Street of Blood" [The New York Theater Workshop]

Marie Jone's "Stones in His Pockets" [The John Golden Theatre]

Two of our reviewers shared the strong feeling that "the usual suspects" would be on everybody's list of nominees, ours as well as the Tony Awards, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Drama Desk Awards and even the Obie Awards. No doubt, they opined, "The Producers," "The Invention of Love," "Proof," and "42nd Street," for example, would be celebrated as the best by everyone. As it turned out, however, the New York Theatre Wire's "Top Ten" represents a fascinating spread of shows from Broadway to Off Broadway and Off-off Broadway. There was no question but that "The Producers" was high on the list and "The Invention of Love" held top billing as well, but London's Theatre de Complicite held its own with its mesmerizing memory piece, "Mnemonic" and Canada's Robert Lepage was a clear contender for several of our writers with his tender and humorous solo piece, "The Far Side of the Moon." Our choices also represent a wide range of forms from Ping Chong's "Secret History," unadorned documentary theater composed of eight personal narratives, presented by culturally diverse performers to Ronnie Burkett's tour de force puppet theater with Burkett playing all of the roles; from Ayckbourn's "wildly, inventive merry fantasy" in the words of one reviewer, to Stoppard's skillful play about language which masterfully weaves "the grand pursuits of the ages with the small longings and regrets of individuals."

Our choices were based on artistic merit, of course, but ultimately as one of our critics wrote, "a critic's best defense is pure and total subjectivity. These are the shows that mattered to me, the ones I cared for the most, the ones that inhabited my dreams long after I'd seen them." No doubt this was true for all of our writers. [Wehle]

© copyright 2001 Metro New Media, Inc.

Further information email: Philippa Wehle, author of this article, or send a letter to the editor.

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Senior Columnist: Glenn Loney. Feature Writer: Jerry Tallmer. Theatre Critics: Margaret Croyden, Lucy Komisar. Columnist-at-large: Randy Gener. Contributors: Philippa Wehle, Brandon Judell, Melinda Guttmann, Ed Rubin, Dorothy Chansky, Henry Baumgartner. Columnists: Marilyn Abalos (Asian Theatre), Susan Haskins (Broadway), Larry Litt (Comedy). Senior Editor: John Hammond.

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