Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dept. of Life in the Theatre

I'd love to see Christopher Durang win a Tony for Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, but even if he doesn't his friend and Tony-nominated actress Kristine Nielsen will be there for the next go-round.
Ms. Nielsen’s Tony nod may owe to a first-act scene in which she appears resplendent in a beaded gown (cheekily similar to the one she wore in “Ubu”), announcing that she will attend a local costume party as “the Evil Queen from ‘Snow White,’ as played by Maggie Smith on the way to the Oscars.” To watch her deliver a speech that is at once a declaration of burgeoning confidence, a jab at her glamorous sister, and a perfect caricature of Ms. Smith’s performance in the 1978 film “California Suite,” is to know that here is a comic actress who can do anything. And in a tiara and sequins, too.

Ms. Nielsen didn’t necessarily plan an exclusively comic career. Chatting in the orchestra section of the John Golden Theater before a Saturday performance, she described a serious theatrical education, which included an undergraduate degree from Northwestern and a masters from the Yale School of Drama, where she played Sonya in Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” among other classical parts. She made her Broadway debut in a 1985 revival of “The Iceman Cometh,” hardly a knee-slapper.

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