With shows like the Dallas Theater Center’s “Arsenic and Old Lace,” The Undermain Theatre’s “Easter,” and Second Thought Theatre’s “Red Light Winter,” the Dallas-Fort Worth theatre scene was alive and vibrant again in 2011. Even with the loss of 2010′s Best Actor Regan Adair, who left DFW for New York City, all the regular stages and venues were filled with top notch performers working their way up the bill. Here are some of the top performers of last year, for whom big things are expected again in 2012.
Liz Mikel is more than just a DFW treasure, she’s blossomed on the national stage as well with roles in “Friday Night Lights” and “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.” In 2011 she took her role as Heterai in “Give It Up!” from the Dallas Theatre Center all the way to off-Broadway to strong reviews in the retitled “Lysistrata Jones.” Along the way she still had time to come home from New York to sing in the Music Hall Variety Series.
Up next for Mikel is a role in the film “Straight A’s” featuring Anna Paquin and Ryan Phillippe. She is even working on her own music CD.
It was quite a year for Steven Walters. He was magic in “Thom Pain (Based On Nothing)” at the start of 2011 in a one-man performance that, in any lesser actor’s hands, would have been tortuous. He also was fantastic in the classics as Prince Hal in “Henry IV” and Ferdinand in “The Tempest” at Dallas Theater Center. Walters even appeared on television with roles in “Chase” and “Friday Night Lights.”
Walters, a Baylor graduate originally from Fort Worth, became a member of the Dallas Theater Center‘s Brierley Resident Acting Company, and somehow still found the time to open his play “Pluck The Day” in New York City.
Walters received the Best Actor award from both the Dallas Observer, and D Magazine for 2011.
Elly Lindsay was simply amazing in “A Trip To Bountiful” at the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas. She had other work, but that single performance as Carrie Watts would have been enough. As the center of that story, Lindsay gave an unforgettable performance as a strong woman struggling to make her spiritual journey. The scenes in which she appeared were the highlights of the entire Horton Foote Festival.
Lindsay was named “Best Actress” by D Magazine for 2011 and was named one of the best actresses by the Dallas/Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum.
Sally Nystuen Vahle
The Dallas Observer’s best actress of 2010, Sally Nystuen Vahle also collected the 2011 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship award, which is given to just 10 actors and actresses across the country. From there, she was excellent as Miss Maudie in the Dallas Theatre Center’s production of “To Kill A Mockingbird” at the Wyly Theatre, and also found time to contribute to the one-night showing of “A Gathering: The Dallas Arts Community Reflects On 30 Years Of AIDS.”
Vahle starts 2012 in DTC’s performance of “Cabaret” at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. That show is scheduled for April 22 through May 22.
Related: Best Of The Dallas Arts District
Shane Strawbridge is getting a well-deserved reputation for memorable performances. He was hilarious in last year’s “The Fantasticks” at the Circle Theatre in Fort Worth, and he was also a scene-stealer as Frankie in “Seven In One Blow or The Brave Little Kid,” with two of the three songs in the show. He also took his psychological thriller “Phobia” to Chicago for its grand opening. Strawbridge recently appeared in “Kismet” at Lyric Stage of Irving and will be the lead in “Sweeney Todd” at Level Ground Arts.
Reid Kerr has been a professional writer for television and radio for more than twenty years. Currently living in Tyler, TX, Reid has written for Examiner for four years, as well as numerous other websites, newspapers, and magazines. His work can be found at Examiner.com.