Kyle Lawson, April 2014
Critics do not have favorites. Ha! Of course, they do.
I recently set myself the task of choosing the actresses who most profoundly affected me during my years as a critic here. Later, I’ll try my hand at theater companies, directors, actors, technicians and playwrights.
But first the women. Who does not bow when a diva walks among them? Not that these women let mere charisma overtake the truth of the character they were playing. If only Strasberg and Hagen could have seen the layers that these brilliant artists brought to the stage.
And to say they were versatile begs the point. They sang, they danced, they played musical instruments, they blew me out of my seat on so many occasions and for so many reasons.
Considering the performances I saw during the nearly 40 years I sat in local theater seats, there are many who delighted me who are not on this list. There are many more who have come along that would be on the list if I had not retired when I did.
So, it is with humble apologies to those who have been overlooked, I give you the LIST.
For those of you who must have a Top 10, I spent several weeks agonizing over refining my choices. In the end, it came down to these women, whose performances changed my life in ways that continue to impact me to this day.
(In no particular order) Patti Suarez, Suzanne Bouchard, Kathy Fitzgerald, Linda DeArmond, Cathy Dresbach, Katie McFadzen, Robyn Allen, Paty Lombard, Jacqueline Gaston and Debra K. Stevens.
As for the rest, each of these hold a special place in my critic’s pantheon and, taken together, form a veritable history of Valley theater since 1977 (again, in no particular order):
Helen Begam, Margaret McCormack, Lillie Richardson, Carolyn Pain, Mollie Kellogg, Wendy Lehr, Robyn Ferracane, Terey Summers, Sally Jo Bannow, Maria Amorocho Weisbrod, Janet Arnold, Marlene Saens, Judy Rollings, Debby Rosenthal, Suze St John, Barbara J. McGrath, Noel Irick. Susan Sindelar, Molly Jacobs, Patti Hannon, Maren Maclean, Andi Watson, Natalie Charle Ellis, Michelle Gardner, Laura Durant, Kristen Drathman, Angelica Howland, Amanda Monrad, Andrea Morales, Kerry McCue, Courtney Weir, Johanna Carlisle, Barbara Walker McBain, Mary Jo West, Ellen Benton, Lynda Gravatt, Molly Schaffer, Susan Miller Dee, Joy Bingham Strimple, Helen Hayes, April Monte, Jan Sandwich, Joyce Gittoes, Kathi Osborne, Elizabeth Loos, Pamela Fields, Judy Lebeau, Natalie Inglish Nesbitt, Darcy Rould- Welch, Pat Kennedy, Hilary Hirsch, Quetta Carpenter, Sarah Wolter, Lisa Fogel, Athena Hunting, Kandyce Hughes, Michelle Chin, Edee Trejo Cadin, Christie Poulton, Jenny Hintz, Yolanda London, Heidi Ewart, Kate Howell, Diane Nieman Senffner, Stephanie Likes, Melinda Thomas, Lesley Tutnick-Machbitz and Renee Morgan Brooks.