Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stars in the Making (I Hope!)

There’s no way I could limit myself to one “star in the making.” New York theatre is just too full of riches. I did however manage to limit myself to seven. 
Lemp and Kautz
Sarah Lemp and James Kautz are, I think, starting to get the attention they deserve, and they might one day actually be well-known. They’re both in The Amoralists Theatre Company, and each has an extraordinarily varied palate. Lemp’s palate runs from icy blue to deep purple, from cold-hearted to too-caring, from not-too-bright to sharply intelligent. Kautz’s range runs more to warm tones, with his emotions always vivid (yet subtle); his happiness becomes our happiness; his heartbreak becomes our heartbreak. And they both do farce really well. (Their shows include Happy in the Poorhouse, The Pied Piper of the Lower East Side, and Hotel/Motel.)

The next five performers aren’t, I think, getting the attention they deserve, and who knows if they ever will. But they are exquisite actors. 

Becky Byers is a sweet-faced redhead with blue eyes. She could easily be cast as Marian the Librarian or Amelia from She Loves Me--which makes her brilliantly controlled lunacy as the storyteller in Dog Act all the more impressive. In bursts of anger, annoyance, and angst, she spewed out her stories with venom, speed, and perfect clarity. She was chilling yet really, really funny. 

In Universal Robots, Jason Howard morphed, cell by cell, from robot to feeling, sentient creature. The transition was heartbreaking and breathtaking, a true tour de force. 

Lori Parquet’s silences are exquisite, yet evocative. Her audible acting is brilliant too, particularly as Dog Act’s vagabond vaudevillian, but there is something in her silences, in her listening, that reveals the depth of her talent.

As a member of the Asmat tribe in The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller, Daniel Morgan Shelley managed simultaneously to give a subtle, detailed, specific performance and to represent a whole people being changed by outside influences.

The very first time I heard dialogue from one of my plays spoken by an actor, that actor was Nancy Sirianni, which makes me a very lucky playwright. She happened to be the first person to audition; she introduced herself, and she was Nancy. Then she started reading from the play (You Look Just Like Him) and she was Sally, hanging on by a thread, with a history of loss, yet quiet, contained. A thrill ran up my spine. I have since seen her in a number of shows, and she is the real thing, with an astonishing ability to be rather than act.


Aaron Riccio said...

I find myself largely agreeing with your choices, and simply wanting to steal many of them. I'll have to think very hard now as to what stars I'd put up here.

Wendy Caster said...

Hey, great minds do think alike.