Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wisey Best Supporting Actor: Ray Tagavilla

The nominees for best supporting actor are:

Michael D. Blum, The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage
Kevin Kenerly, Macbeth, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
John Tufts, Equivocation, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Evan Woltz, The Full Monty, Balagan Theatre
Peter Dylan O'Connor, The Tempest, Seattle Shakespeare Company
Todd Jefferson Moore, Opus, Seattle Rep
Ray Tagavilla, Elephant's Graveyard, Balagan Theatre
Seanjohn Walsh, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Balagan Theatre; general fabulousness, 14/48
Patrick Bentley, The Comedy of Errors, GreenStage

I know. That's a lot of nominees. And the thing is, this is the narrowed down list, after much arm-wrestling between the Weisenheimer and Sweetie ("every time I lose a wrestling match, I have the funny feeling that I won..."). We toyed with splitting the year in half...or nominating by quarter...or by section of the alphabet...

What a problem, right? Great performances in great plays all year long. In the end, the well-deserved award goes to Ray Tagavilla for his riveting performance in Elephant's Graveyard at Balagan Theatre.

We saw Elephant's three times during the run, and one of the three nights I thought Ray was a tiny bit off his stride—and he was still fantastic. The role of the elephants' Trainer is the fulcrum on which the play's gut-wrenching plot pivots and lurches. He and Ballet Girl know Mary the elephant the best; the Trainer has the additional burden of responsibility for Mary and what happens to her. His agony at the events and his role in them, and in what he has to do for Mary at her death, fills the stage even when the lines and action are elsewhere. Tagavilla's performance is precise and tightly controlled—well-edited, if you will, nothing extraneous—so that every nuance of gesture, posture, tear, and grimace is pure, focused emotion, and utterly believable. We've been impressed with everything we've seen from Tagavilla, and his work in Elephant's was outstanding.

I thought Kevin Kenerly pretty much redeemed Macbeth at OSF this year. His performance made the play human. And we think John Tufts' career is one to watch. Michael Blum was nominated for Comedy of Errors but could as easily have been nominated for the role of Ringmaster in Elephant's, with the perfect gravitas to anchor the ensemble cast. Patrick Bentley embodied comedy (in Comedy of Errors) and tragedy (Titus Andronicus) this year for GreenStage. Evan Woltz might have turned in the most sensitive acting performance of the great, brave cast in The Full Monty. Peter Dylan O'Connor was an otherworldly and creepy Caliban in Tempest. Todd Jefferson Moore hit all the right notes in Opus. And we had to include Seanjohn Walsh for an unforgettable trio of performances across the lifespan: a dirty old man in Picasso at Balagan, a totally out of control little kid in A Whole Mess of Badgers at 14/48, and, yes, six-months pregnant in Six Months In, also at 14/48.


Michael said...

Speaking as one of the nominees, I would have been dissappointed if Ray hadn't won this one. His was easily the finest performance of the year.

Sweetie the Official Scorer said...

Thanks Michael! Glad we got it right. :-) Thanks for the great performances. We're looking forward to more!