Though they don’t have the leading roles, each of this year’s Tony nominees for Best Featured Actress in a Musical are an integral part of their shows. A lonely landlady, a gender-switching drag performer, a witty songwriter, a sassy blues belter, and a seemingly sweet ingénue are the diverse candidates in this category.
Though she has appeared in one previous Broadway tuner (1776), Linda Emond is mainly known for her Tony-nominated dramatic roles in Life X 3 and Death of a Salesman. As the sharp-witted, but ultimately practical landlady Fraulein Schneider in the new revival of Cabaret, she proves her considerable musical chops. She’s endearingly comic in “It Couldn’t Please Me More,” her humorous duet with boarder Herr Schultz (Danny Burstein) and heartbreakingly poignant in “What Would You Do?” where she seems to be daring the audience not to judge her when she breaks off her engagement with him.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Without uttering a spoken word, Lena Hall creates a full character in Yitzhak, the Jewish-Estonian husband of Hedwig, the transgendered German punk rocker played by Neil Patrick Harris. Through her eloquent features and gestures, she tells the history of the pair’s unusual romantic and musical partnership. She’s also totally convincing as a man and totally convincing as a drag queen when she emerges for the finale in a glamorous get-up and blasts the roof off the Belasco Theater in “Raise Your Hands.” Her previous Broadway credits include Kinky Boots, Tarzan, Dracula, 42nd Street and Cats.
Beautiful—The Carole King Musical
A veteran of understudy and replacement roles in such shows as Xanadu, All Shook Up, Avenue Q and Rent, Anika Larsen creates her first original featured Broadway role as the caustic Cynthia Weil, songwriter and best friend to Carole King, in Beautiful. From her first number, a snappy parody of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” she creates a witty, energetic presence as Cynthia establishes herself as a top lyricist, partners with the neurotic but lovable Barry Mann professionally and romantically, and supports Carole during her difficult marriage to Garry Goffin.
Though she only has two numbers in After Midnight, the sensuous revue celebrating Duke Ellington’s tenure as bandleader at the legendary Cotton Club, Adriane Lenox makes an unforgettable impression. In “Women Be Wise” and “Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night,” she evokes such sassy songstresses of the 1920s and ’30s as Sippie Wallace, Ethel Waters and Bessie Smith. In the first tune, she advises the female audience members on how to handle their men and in the second, she upbraids a loafing lover for knocking on her door after shacking up with another woman. She gives both hilarious heat and scandalously stresses the double entendres. It should come as no surprise that Lenox steals the show with her relatively brief turn since she previously won a Tony for one shattering scene in Doubt.
A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder
Soprano Lauren Worsham makes an impressive Broadway debut as Phoebe D’Ysquith, the girlish love interest for the charming Monty Navarro in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. She brings a dazzling voice to the seemingly innocent, but worldly wise young widow who contrives to rescue Monty when his numerous murders catch up with him. Her bright, gorgeous tones sparkle like diamonds in such numbers as “I’ve Decided to Marry You,” a trio with Monty and her rival Sibella Hallward.