WINNER: PROOF, by David Auburn
A Pulitzer Prize, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award and John Gassner Award have already followed David Auburn's Proof to this point, as the gentle drama of a young woman hoping not to follow in her father's shaky mental footsteps maintains its season-long spell on theatregoers. Mary-Louise Parker, who originated the lead at Off Broadway's Manhattan Theatre Club last season, continues in what has become the role of her career (so far) on Broadway.
The Invention of Love, by Tom Stoppard
Coming off the commercial success and Oscar win of "Shakespeare in Love," Tom Stoppard arrived on Broadway this season with a decidedly difficult and upscale work, The Invention of Love, which captures prickly poet A.E. Housman on his deathday. Richard Easton and Robert Sean Leonard have earned kudos (and Tony noms) for playing the scribe as an older and younger man. Jack O'Brien's fluid direction helped audiences follow the word-filled drama by the author of Arcadia, Hapgood and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
King Hedley II, by August Wilson
August Wilson continues his decade-by-decade look at disenfranchised blacks in America, this time in the dead-end of 1985 Pittsburgh, where Hedley, just out of prison, tries to start fresh by raising money to open a video store. His "plan," however, is to rob another store to raise the capital, and Hedley's eventually undone by a chain of family history so complicated, critics and audiences couldn't quite unravel it (but went with the play's potent mix of poetry and melodrama anyway). Considered high among America's greatest-living dramatists, Wilson's previous works include Fences, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars and Jitney.
The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, by Charles Busch
For more than a decade, Charles Busch was penning campy, spoofy, wildly weird gay comedies (The Lady in Question, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Queen Amarantha) in the Ridiculous Theatrical tradition. Not only that, he was starring in them — usually in drag get-up second only to Everett Quinton in outlandishness. But 2001 saw Busch move to the uptown crowd, as his MTC hit, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, proved a Broadway draw for its story of a bored, suicidal housewife whose glamorous old friend proves just a little too sexually liberated.