Tonys Countdown Special: #4

Bonjour! Okay, the 4th best Tony-winning performance of the past decade is…drum roll please…

JUDY KAYE (Nice Work If You Can Get It, 2012)

I would not be exaggerating if I said that this show-stealing performance changed my outlook on the prospects of my theatrical career. I saw the Gershwin comedy Nice Work in January of 2013, and the fact that a stage star like Judy Kaye took on this character role and completely owned the stage was so inspirational to me. You see, I am a character actress, and sometimes I felt a little dismayed that I don’t play ingenues. But Kaye’s take on Duchess Estonia Dulworth changed all that. I was crying during the curtain call. I finally saw that amazing character parts are out there, and they’re often some of the best ones a show can offer. Heck, they can earn you a Tony while the leads are left in the dust. This is exactly what happened here; both Judy Kaye and her character’s love interest (played by Michael McGrath, with whom she had terrific chemistry) walked away with Featured Performance prizes that year. When accepting her well-deserved award, she remarked that “chandeliers have been very good to me.” She’d won her first Tony for The Phantom of the Opera, and in Nice Work If You Can Get It, the Duchess drunkenly swings from one!

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