The Tony Awards nominating committee has a difficult job every year, and shows that have already closed are always in danger of being forgotten. So it’s important to highlight some astounding performances from plays and musicals that have already played their final curtain. Here’s a look at four actors who deserve to be remembered with a Tony nomination.
Simon McBurney, “The Encounter” – Lead Actor in a Play
The set was a cold looking soundstage and there were no fancy costumes, but McBurney fully convinced me that I was deep in the Amazon jungle during “The Encounter.” McBurney checks off all the Tony boxes: playing multiple characters complete with varying accents, a highly physical performance, a solo performer who also wrote and directed the play. True the sound design became a wow factor, but the most spellbinding effect in the show was the actor’s ability to transport the audience using only his voice and body. I challenge the nominators to find a performer in a play performing that kind of magic and performing with as many levels at once, as McBurney did. This is the type of unique and daring theatrical endeavor that the Tonys need to reward.
Mary-Louise Parker, “Heisenberg” – Lead Actress in a Play
The “Weeds” star won a Tony Award for “Proof” in 2001, and was again nominated for “Reckless” in 2005. More than a decade later later, Parker deserves to make a return to the Best Actress in a Play category. The bare-bones production allowed Parker (and her co-star Denis Arndt, also Tony worthy) to shine. With audience members seated on stage and no technical wizardry to pull focus, Parker had nowhere to hide with her performance. Ben Brantley (The New York Times) fawned over her surprise filled performance claiming she “is giving her best stage performance since her Tony-winning turn as the hallucination-prone math genius in ‘Proof,’ 16 years ago.”
Brandon Uranowitz, “Falsettos” – Featured Actor in a Musical
Uranowitz was surely the least well known actor in the central quartet of “Falsettos,” which included Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, and Stephanie J. Block. But his portrayal of Mendel was so earnest and charming, that audience members couldn’t help but fall in love. This previous Tony nominee (“An American in Paris”) found a harmonious match of actor and composer, his voice adept to the soaring high notes and percussive melodies of William Finn’s beloved score. His precious bonding with child actor Anthony Rosenthal during the number “Jason’s Therapy” was enough to make you clamor for a Mendel spin-off musical.
Lindsay Mendez, “Significant Other” – Featured Actress in a Play
When I first watched “Significant Other” in its Off-Broadway run at Roundabout, I didn’t think there was any further Gideon Glick and Mendez could take the Act 2 battle royal between friends. But in the Broadway mounting, Mendez proved me wrong as she added new layers and even more heartbreaking vulnerability. We watch Mendez’s Laura shatter before our eyes as her best friend insults her, before summoning the strength of a giant to tell the raving Jordan that “it’s not about you.” Though we follow Glick’s Jordan the entire play with hopes for his success, in this one moment I thought “I’m on her side.” Mendez has been one of the most exciting young actors in New York yet still hasn’t broken through in a huge way. So when it comes to a Tony nomination, I’m once again on her side.
Be sure to make your Tony Awards predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our Tony odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on May 2. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Tony Awards taking place right now in our theater forums.