Best Classical Theater Troupe (2002)
Actors' Renaissance Theatre
It's not easy getting an audience for Shakespeare in this town. And no one knows that better than Actors' Renaissance Theatre. This truly local troupe started (and still exists) on a shoestring but is held together by strong performances, well-planned seasons, and the passion of its founders, husband-and-wife team James and Ashley Barnard. ART offers up the classics of Austen, Wilde and Shakespeare, stages an annual Valley of the Sun Shakespeare Festival, and debuts original works, like its recent world première adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. None of these things is exactly known for selling hordes of tickets, but ART still manages to put on good, affordable theater without going under, and without the help of underwriting or grants. In our book, that deserves recognition.