These ac­tors’ tal­ents stand out in their fea­tured parts, mak­ing them wor­thy of recog­ni­tion on awards night

Los Angeles Times - - ARTS & BOOKS - — Pa­trick Pacheco

Micah Stock Ter­rence McNally’s “It’s Only a Play”

Till now: The 26-year-old ac­tor from Day­ton, Ohio, grad­u­ated from the arts con­ser­va­tory at SUNY Pur­chase in New York. In 2013, Stock­won a role in Ter­renceMcNally’s “AwayWe Go,” anoff-Broad­way rompabout the­ater through the mil­len­ni­ums in which Stock time-trav­eled through mul­ti­ple roles. McNally took no­tice and no one else was con­sid­ered for the role of Gus, the starstruck coat checker at an open­ing-night party.

Stand­out scene: In his Broad­way de­but, Stock held his own among a cast that in­cluded Nathan Lane, Matthew Brod­er­ick, Stockard Chan­ning, Megan Mullally, Ru­pert Grint and F. Mur­ray Abra­ham. His com­bi­na­tion of straight-off-the-farm in­no­cence and fledg­ling am­bi­tion reached an a pogee near the end of the play when Gus, at­tempt­ing to buck­upthe com­pany’s flag­ging spir­its, sings— ter­ri­bly—“De­fy­ing Grav­ity” from“Wicked.”

Ex­plain, in a few words: “Micah’s in­nate the­atri­cal­ity is as gen­uine as his charm. He’s a pas­sion­ate ac­tor in a pas­sion­ate role. You can’t lie about that. If it’s not pas­sion, it’s over­act­ing, an­dif it is pas­sion, yourec­og­nize that it’s the real deal. Micah’s the real deal.” — Jack O’ Brien, di­rec­tor of “It’s Only a Play”

An­naleigh Ash­ford “You Can’t Take ItWith You”

Till now: Ash­ford was 9 when she was cast as a poi­sonously am­bi­tious child star in “Ruth­less!” Af­ter earn­ing a the­ater de­gree from Mary­mount Man­hat­tan Col­lege, she worked her way from roles in “Legally Blonde” to “Wicked” to “Hair” and then “Kinky Boots,” for which she was nom­i­nated for a Tony. Also seen as a brassy pros­ti­tute in TV’s “Masters of Sex,” the 29-year-old ac­tor played Essie Sy­camore Carmichael in the 1936Ge­orge S. Kauf­man-MossHart com­edy clas­sic.

Stand­out scene: Ash­ford ce­mented her rep­u­ta­tion for com­edy with a per­for­mance al­most en­tirely en pointe. Her ec­static silli­ness re­ally soars when her Rus­sian teacher, BorisKolenkhov, ar­rives fora­les­son. In­pink tutu and toe shoes and a mix of con­cen­tra­tion and panic, Ash­ford does a spas­modic se­ries of pliés as though 300-volt charges were run­ning through her body.

Ex­plain, in a few­words: “An­naleigh’sway of work­ing is to just throw­ev­ery­thing on stage at the be­gin­ning and then­work very hard to shape and pull it back. There’s noth­ing on that stage that isn’t care­fully thought out. It looks free, but it’s not free at all. It’s hon­est. Her per­for­mance is so funny be­cause she’s soau­then­tic” — Scott El­lis, di­rec­to­rof “You Can’t Take ItWith You”

Ruthie An­nMiles “The King and I”

Till now: Miles left her na­tive Korea when she was in el­e­men­tary school, even­tu­ally set­tling with her fam­ily in Honolulu. She at­tended New York Univer­sity’s Stein­hardt School of the Arts, then joined the na­tional tour of John Doyle’s “Sweeney Todd,” in which she had to play ac­cor­dion, flute and pi­ano as Adolfo Pirelli. Af­ter a run in the of­fBroad­way re­mount­ing of “Av­enue Q,” Miles hit pay dirt as Imel­daMar­cos in “Here Lies Love,” the disco-in­spired mu­si­cal by David Byrne andFat­boy Slim.

Stand­outscene: Miles’ Lady Thi­ang ex­udes re­gal con­fi­dence and un­ques­tioned au­thor­ity as the King’s chief wife and mother to the heir to the throne in the court of Siam. “Some­thing Won­der­ful,” the song that serves as an apolo­gia for the King’s will­ful­ness, takes on a soul­ful am­biva­lence in her hands. As an in­ter­me­di­ary be­tween Anna and the King, she demon­strates that women are of­ten the hinge be­tween hide-bound tra­di­tions and pro­gres­sive change.

Ex­plain, in a few words: “Ruthie is a fe­ro­cious and for­mi­da­ble ac­tress who, in por­tray­ing fig­ures like Imelda Mar­cos, is no stranger to women in power. She is a con­stant source of strength and grav­i­tas on­stage…. She is the kind of ac­tress who should be break­ing bar­ri­ers among Asian Amer­i­can ac­tresses for a gen­er­a­tion to come.” — Bartlett Sher, di­rec­tor of “The King and I”

Syd­ney Lu­cas “Fun Home”

Till now: Lu­cas had been ag­i­tat­ing her mother, Karri, to al­low her to be in show busi­ness since age 4. She­was cut dur­ing the fi­nal call­backs for “Matilda” and ac­cepted the role of Small Ali­son, the youngest of three ages of the main char­ac­ter. Lu­cas be­came the youngest per­son ever to win an Obie Award when the show had its world pre­miere at the Pub­lic The­atre in fall 2013.

Stand­out scene: Lu­cas’ Small Ali­son’s fa­ther’s clos­eted sex­u­al­ity is a mys­tery to the young­ster even as she feels the stir­rings of her own les­bian­ism when her eyes alight on a de­liv­ery woman in a cof­fee shop. In the song “Ring of Keys,” Lu­cas’ Ali­son ex­presses the won­der and in­cip­i­ent joy of dis­cov­er­ing some­onewho is what she yearns to be­come, free of the dresses and bar­rettes forced upon her by her fa­ther.

Ex­plain, in a few words: “Syd­ney won the part from the sec­ond she walked into the au­di­tion room. She was so grounded, so avail­able, and so her­self... I can’t think of another ac­tor, let alone an ac­tor at that age, that could be in that sit­u­a­tion with no nerves, no fear, but also no ego and no schtick.” — Sam Gold, di­rec­tor of “Fun


Joan Marcus The Lon­gacre The­atre

Paul Kolnik Vivian Beau­mont The­atre

Joan Marcus Cir­cle in the Square The­atre

Joan Marcus Bernard B. Ja­cobs The­atre

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