Despite a Broadway career spanning over half a century, Estelle Parsons remains without a Tony despite four nominations. However, her supporting performance in David Lindsay-Abaire‘s new play “Good People” could finally win over the theater community. As a busy-body landlady, she steals every scene she is in from Oscar winner Frances McDormand (“Fargo”).
Parsons is an Oscar winner herself, taking home the Best Supporting Actress award in 1967 for her first featured film role in “Bonnie & Clyde.” While she is perhaps best known as Roseanne Barr’s mother on the long-running sitcom “Roseanne,” Parsons’ first love is the stage. She was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2004. Her most recent rialto appearance was three years ago when she took over for Tony champ Deanna Dunagan in Best Play winner “August: Osage County.”
While reviews have focused on McDormand’s performance, the New York Times referred to fellow costar Becky Ann Baker and Parson’s acting as “deliciously played” while the New York Post proclaims the actresses “tackle their roles with great relish.” Both actresses could feature in the feature race.
“Good People” is likely to land a Best Play bid and that bodes well for the performers as well. Historically, the winners of this race have appeared in productions that have contended for either Best Play or Best Play revival. The most recent exception was Angela Lansbury who won her record-tying fifth Tony for “Blithe Spirit’ which managed just one other bid — for costume design — in 2009.
Parsons lost the 2002 Featured Play Actress race for “Mornings at Seven” to Katie Finneran (“Noises Off”). In 1969, she was bested in the first of her three Best Play Actress bids for “Seven Descents of Myrtle” by Julie Harris (“Forty Carats”). Two years later, she lost her second such nod for “Miss Reardon Drinks a Little” to Maureen Stapleton (“The Gingerbread Lady”) and in 1978 she was defeated for “Miss Margarida’s Way” by Jessica Tandy (“The Gin Game”).