In Classic Stage Company's production of David Ives' often-hilarious Venus In Fur, newcomer Nina Arianda gave an occasionally shocking and truly exhilarating performance as an actress willing to go to great lengths to nab the perfect part.
Laura Benanti has been an ideal Cinderella and a stunning Gypsy Rose Lee. Now, in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, she shows off her considerable comic chops (and killer body) as the sweet, ditzy, and entirely lovable model Candela. She's the very model of a modern actress.
Tracee Chimo has managed to look and sound different in every role she's done -- from Circle Mirror Transformation to The Break of Noon -- but she was much more than just unrecognizable as the vicious bridesmaid Regan in Leslye Headland's scathing Bachelorette. She was scary, pitiable, and absolutely brilliant.
As the ultimately betrayed Rose in Kenny Leon's brilliant Broadway revival of August Wilson's Fences, the magnificent Viola Davis superbly combined fragility and strength, putting her own stamp on an iconic role and earning a well-deserved Tony Award in the process.
Stealing a scene from Sean Hayes is no mean feat, but Tony Award winner Katie Finneran did it with finesse -- and a little bit of priceless mugging -- as flirty barfly Marge MacDougall in the hit revival of the musical Promises, Promises.
The multi-talented Alison Fraser put the accent on hilarity as the seemingly uptight nun-with-a-mission Sister Walburga in Charles Busch's hilarious new play The Divine Sister. And when she's in the splendid company of the equally hilarious Julie Halston, Amy Rutberg, and Charles Busch, divine doesn't begin to describe the experience.
As the loyal Brooklyn wife Beatrice in Gregory Mosher's heart-stopping revival of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge, Jessica Hecht once more proved her uncanny ability to get to the heart of any character she chooses to tackle, her complete commitment to her choices, and her connection to her co-stars, including Scarlett Johansson, who made an impressive Broadway debut as the semi-innocent Catherine.
Among the many pleasures of Andrew Bovell's fascinating, multi-generational drama When the Rain Stops Falling, gloriously directed by David Cromer for Lincoln Center Theater, was the chance to watch the extraordinary Mary Beth Hurt at the top of her considerable acting game.
Judith Light might be best known for her television work, but her multi-layered, spot-on portrayal of Marie Lombardi, the alcoholic, disappointed, but devoted wife of Vince Lombardi in the savvy biodrama Lombardi, reaffirms that she's also one of the stage's finest actors.
Laura Linney has always morphed seamlessly into her characters, but her outstanding work as physically and emotionally damaged war photographer Sarah in Donald Margulies riveting Time Stands Still takes her craft to a whole new level of excellence.
Proving beyond any doubt that the adage that there are no small parts (only small actors) is 100 percent true, the divine Jan Maxwell made an entire meal out of the appetizer-sized role of the tempestuous Maria in the rollicking revival of Ken Ludwig's farce Lend Me A Tenor.
When City Center Encores! announced they were putting on Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents' wacky 1964 musical Anyone Can Whistle, I knew there was one actress who would be perfect as corrupt Mayoress Cora Hoover -- two-time Tony Award winner Donna Murphy. And as anyone who saw this infectious production will tell you, I was right!
The pairing of Bernadette Peters and Stephen Sondheim has longed equal music-theater heaven, but the star's simply sublime performance as Desiree in the revival of A Little Night Music was more than a consummation to be devoutly wished for, it was a sheer revelation! As for her celebrated co-star Elaine Stritch as her "bitchy" mother, Mme. Armfeldt, it's simply history in the making!
Lily Rabe first impressed me when I saw her in a brief one-act put on by Naked Angels some years ago, and she's impressed ever since. Even so, her incredibly textured performance as Portia in Daniel Sullivan's spellbinding revival of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was nothing short of breathtaking, and arguably the year's finest performance!
The role of the cross-dressing, eventually lovestruck, yet supremely intelligent Rosalind in Shakespeare's As You Like it has defeated many a fine actress, but the radiant Juliet Rylance conquered the role -- and our hearts -- in Sam Mendes' stirring production for the Bridge Project at BAM earlier this year.