Best Actress in a Play
Michelle Terry, Tribes
Michelle Terry and Nancy Carroll have swapped between these two places so many times since I started this decision-making but ultimately Terry edged by virtue of her performances elsewhere this year. Bringing an intelligently thought-through depth to a paper-thin character in London Assurance and flexing the acting muscles in Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire were both great turns, but it was in Nina Raine’s Tribes that she just blew me away with a richly nuanced and deeply emotional interpretation of her character and revealing herself to be a beautifully natural signer (not as easy as it sounds). The poise with which she tolerated the madness of the dinner table at her boyfriend’s table and the grace with which she defended her choices and explained the frustrations of someone going deaf and all that they lose just broke my heart with its simple elegance and touched me very deeply. Not sure what Terry’s next move is, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
Honourable Mention – Nancy Carroll, After the Dance
As mentioned, this was my most closely contested category this year between these two, but Carroll’s performance in After the Dance really was a thing of wonder. The way in which she sketched Joan’s journey through the complex feelings for husband David was simply heartbreaking and the depth of emotion she evoked with her back to the audience at the end of Act II was just sensational.
Zoë Wanamaker, All My Sons
Helen McCrory, The Late Middle Classes
Miranda Raison, Anne Boleyn
Sophie Thompson, Clybourne Park
Daniela Denby-Ashe, Love Love Love; Lucy Cohu, Broken Glass; Linda Bassett, The Road To Mecca; Kim Cattrall, Private Lives/Antony & Cleopatra
Best Actress in a Musical
Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Quite simply one of the most jaw-dropping experiences on stage for quite some time. Bennett doesn’t so much perform the role of Judy Garland as inhabit her in End of the Rainbow, unafraid to show the depths of her addiction and the tragic effect it had on her stage act, as well as the stellar performances that brought her such renown. Bennett plays both the acting and singing scenes with such conviction that the weaknesses in the play are just overcome by the force of her performance. And what better ending than a practically unanimous and instantaneous standing ovation which was received with such humility that one just wanted to go up there and hug her. Just outstanding, and still playing at the Trafalgar Studios so make a trip if you haven’t planned one already.
Honourable Mention: Emma Williams, Love Story
Never having had the pleasure of seeing Emma Williams perform on stage, I can’t think of a better introduction than the gorgeous Love Story in which she captures hearts as the ballsy no-nonsense heroine Jenny whose untimely end brings forth both tears and well deserved standing ovations. She has such a lovely voice that is so well suited to Howard Goodall’s music that from the moment I left the Duchess theatre I have been eagerly anticipating the cast recording. You can still catch Williams in Love Story now.
Cora Bissett, Midsummer [a play with songs]
Sheridan Smith, Legally Blonde The Musical
Katie Moore, Salad Days
Kirsty Hoiles, Spend! Spend! Spend!
Cassidy Janson, Avenue Q; Rebecca Hutchinson, Once Upon A Time at the Adelphi; Lisa Baird, Just So; Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, Flashdance The Musical