We were lucky to see so many ensemble plays on Broadway this season. Many of the nominees in this category even come from the same play! Although every character is so important to telling the overall story, these 5 nominees added something special to catch the eye of the Tony Committee.
Today's Spotlight: Best Performance by an
Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Meet Pascale Armand
Training: Georgetown University & Howard University (BA), NYU Tisch (MFA in Acting)
Big Break: Making her Broadway debut in The Trip to Bountiful with Cicely Tyson, she has had a successful regional theatre career before coming to Broadway, performing in Shakespeare and contemporary plays at the McCarter Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre and Off Broadway at the Public Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop.
Fun Fact: She is an expert at stilt walking after Tony Award winning director Bartlett Sher asked her to walk on stilts in a production in grad school.
Meet Megan Hilty
Noises Off (Brooke Ashton)
Hometown: Bellevue, Washington
Training: Carnegie Mellon University
Big Break: Before graduating from Carnegie Mellon, Megan had an audition that would change her life. She made her Broadway debut as the Glinda standby in Wicked in 2004 before taking over the role in 2005 and spent 4 and a half years with the production. She has gone on to originate Doralee Rhodes in 9 to 5: The Musical and is known world-wide for her work as Ivy Lynn on NBC's Smash.
Fun Fact: She keeps Santa and Mrs. Claus figurines displayed all year in her living room to remind her of the Christmas spirit. Also, Singing Coach Caroline lives in one of Megan's former NYC apartments!
Meet Jayne Houdyshell
The Humans (Deirdre Blake)
Hometown: Topeka, Kansas
Training: Academy of Dramatic Art at Oakland University
Big Break: Appearing in over 200 plays at some of the finest regional theatres throughout the country (including Yale Repertory Theatre, Steppenwolf, American Conservatory, and McCarter Theatre), she is best known for playing Ann Kron in Lisa Kron's Well, which earned her a Tony Award nomination in 2006. She has appeared on Broadway in Wicked, Bye Bye Birdie, The Importance of Being Earnest, and earned a second Tony Award nomination for her work in the Follies musical revival in 2011.
Fun Fact: Her greatest fear is speaking in public!
"It’s not the same as acting. Public speaking is death-defying and nerve-wracking because I don’t have a proscribed script and a character and a story to tell."-Jayne Houdyshell
Meet Andrea Martin
Noises Off (Mrs. Clackett)
Hometown: Portland, Maine
Training: Emerson College
Big Break: Although she had some success in NYC out of college joining the You're a Good Man Charlie Brown tour, she decided to relocate to Toronto in 1970. She made a splash in the Canadian TV scene, joining the sketch comedy series SCTV and worked with the famous Second City improv comedy troupe. She made her way back to NYC in 1992, making her Broadway debut in My Favorite Year and winning her first Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She has been nominated for the same award a record-holding 5 times for Candide (1997), Oklahoma (2002), Young Frankenstein (2007), and won her 2nd Tony Award for Pippin (2013). She has appeared in numerous TV shows like Sesame Street and Star Trek and films like Anastasia and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Fun Fact: She actually said no to Diane Paulus when she first was asked to play Berthe in Pippin. Traditionally played as a silver-haired grandmother, Andrea ultimately agreed to play the role, only if Diane let her reinvent the role to fit the circus theme. Diane agreed and history was made with Andrea's Tony Award worthy trapeze performance!
Meet Saycon Sengbloh
Eclipsed (Wife #1)
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Training: Tri-Cities School for the Visual and Performing Arts, Agnes Scott College
Big Break: Saycon made her Broadway debut in Aida (2000) and went on to appear in Wicked (2003), The Color Purple (2005), Hair (2009), Fela! (2009), Motown: The Musical (2013), and Holler If Ya Hear Me (2014).
Fun Fact: After her sixth time auditioning for the national tour of Rent, Saycon booked the role of Mimi, traditionally portrayed by a Latina actor. She went on to be the first African-American actress to play Elphaba in Wicked.
What an accomplished group of ladies! Who is your favorite?
Let me know in the comments below!
Check back on Friday to
Meet the 2016 Tony Awards Nominees:
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Tom Morin is a NYC-based acting coach, co-founder of Polish Your Passion, and a professional actor/singer. He holds a B.A. in Theatre & Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross and an M.F.A. in Acting from Ohio University and has been teaching for the past 9 years, advising and coaching students through the college audition process and beyond. He loves coffee, Shakespeare, and YouTube.