By Thom Geier
Updated December 16, 2011 at 02:00 PM EST
The Book Of Mormon
Credit: Joan Marcus

It’s been a rather remarkable year for theater — and not just because the most expensive musical ever produced finally opened and (perhaps more remarkably) is still spinning its web on 42nd Street. (Who’d have guessed the lights would still be on at Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark?) A remarkable number of 2011’s new productions found fresh and inventive ways to surprise, delight, and challenge audiences — from a genuinely original musical by Broadway newbies (The Book of Mormon, pictured at left) to two Chekhov revivals starring Hollywood stars (Three Sisters with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Uncle Vanya with Cate Blanchett) to an immersive, choose-your-own-adventure event in a six-story warehouse space (Sleep No More). Without further ado, here are EW’s top 10 standouts in stage:

1. The Book of Mormon (Broadway)

2. Sleep No More (Off Broadway)

3. Other Desert Cities (Broadway)

4. Anything Goes (Broadway)

5. Blood and Gifts (Off Broadway)

6. Three Sisters (Off Broadway) and Uncle Vanya (Washington, D.C.)

7. Follies (Broadway)

8. War Horse (Broadway)

For more detail on my selections, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands today. Narrowing my list was especially difficult this year. There were close to a dozen shows that very nearly made the cut. Some honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): Good People, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Normal Heart, and Sons of the Prophet. Did I leave out a favorite of yours? Let me know in the comments.

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