The Class Menagerie

The People Speak! Thirty-Four NYC Theater Types Pick Their Favorite Shows of the 2000–2001 Off-Broadway Season.

Cherry JonesThe Syringa Tree
An inspired masterpiece. To watch Pamela Gein become those 25 or so characters, in this piece she also wrote, is a profound experience. It's so clear and powerful, I think I'll remember every moment of the play. I hope she doesn't ever get tired of doing it.

Anne BogartMnemonic
I loved it because of the way it handled the presence of the audience and created an alternate kind of dramaturgical storytelling.

Joan MacIntoshLackawanna Blues
Written and performed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, it was my favorite play. I was profoundly moved by both the story he told, and by his exquisite artistry and breathtaking virtuosity in the telling of it.

Taking the piss out of capitalism: Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann’s Urinetown
photo: Joan Marcus
Taking the piss out of capitalism: Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann’s Urinetown

Barry EdelsteinThe Designated Mourner
It was a highlight—smart, articulate, and devastating. Its uncanny, acid view of the ugliness of a Dubya-type, frat-boy culture run amok was brilliantly expressed by Wallace Shawn's own tour de force performance. And André Gregory's production in some seedy, abandoned Wall Street clubhouse hit every moment right on the nose.

Mary TestaTwelfth Night or What You Will
I love those guys at Moonwork—Gregory Wolfe and Mason Pettit. They're fresh and young and have great new ideas. I really enjoyed their take on Twelfth Night, set in a 1940s swing club.

David AuburnUrinetown
The music is fantastic, and halfway through the second act there's a joke so funny that the audience collectively doubles over weeping. You don't get this kind of pure pleasure in the theater very often.

Heather BurnsHamlet
Peter Brook's production was by far one of the best reinventions of Shakespeare that I have seen—nothing new for Peter Brook, but very exciting for the rest of us trying to tell stories in the theater. Adrian Lester gave a deeply vulnerable and riveting performance. It was also nice to see Naseeruddin Shah on the American stage.

W. David HancockHamlet
The Amazing Micro-Theatre performed it at a street festival in Brooklyn. I liked the play because it was performed inside a cardboard box model of the Globe Theatre, using only HO-scale railroad figures and scenery. The "acting" was provided by an ancient RSC audio recording of the play. It was a one-day event and I'm sorry more people didn't get to see it.

Bill IrwinMnemonic.
A striking and memorable piece. It may have remained unfinished as a play, but the performances and the staging ideas were compelling enough to make it my favorite piece.

Michael John GarcésMiddle Finger
Really striking. A lovely production, well directed by Loy Arcenas, really great writing by Han Ong, and a wonderful ensemble cast. A lovely exploration of adolescent male sexuality.

Kristine NielsenThe Butterfly Collection
Theresa Rebeck's play was so eloquent and angry and very important about the family. It rivaled, for me, the beginnings of something like an O'Neill family play, how damaging the family is in art.

Rinde EckertMnemonic
The boldness of the enterprise, of the attempt to reconcile a number of big ideas, I really appreciated that. And that extraordinary chair! The ensemble worked on this for two years, so it's an example of what we could be doing in the theater if we weren't the country we are.

Adam GuettelLobby Hero
I ended up crying afterwards. It was so powerful by the use of such simple, unpretentious tools. Kenneth Lonergan addressed issues of ethical importance that are rarely addressed with that kind of humanity.

Neil PepeLobby Hero
I've always admired Kenny Lonergan's writing; it's been amazing watching him develop as a playwright over the last six years. An extraordinarily beautiful piece, well acted and well directed.

Kathleen ChalfantAnd God Created Great Whales.
Rinde Eckert's piece seemed to me to combine all of the best features of the theater and the opera and to be filled with beauty and humor and surprise and art.

Bill CampNow That Communism Is Dead, My Life Feels Empty.
I loved the violence of it and its humor. That image of the dog in the box, it really stayed with me, oddly. Richard Foreman's plays are so challenging, I really appreciate that. I think it's crucial that the audience should be forced to think, forced to try, forced to interpret for themselves.

A.R. GurneyMnemonic
It had a broad global dimension on one hand, and a deep historical dimension on the other, so those two coordinates gave it a breadth and depth I admired and envied.

Kia CorthronOn the Hills of Black America
It was seven short pieces, produced by the imna! theater company, that are twilight songs about the history of black America, in a way. The writing, by Keith Josef Adkins, is exquisite. It's surreal and grounded; it's hilarious but there are dark undertones.

Woodie King Jr.Night and Day
Jolie Garrett played Mageeba, an African leader educated in England, who took on the British establishment in Tom Stoppard's play. His work was just stupendous, awesome. This performer leaped off the stage and grabbed me.

Polly PenStranger
It was a dual experience for me, both watching an extreme story and at the same time watching an author [Craig Lucas] explore and extend just how far his story could take him.

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