Best Actor, Reader's Choice: Larry Yando (with William Brown in Writers' Theatre's Nixon's Nixon, to be remounted in August)
Ross Lehman, Larry Yando, and John Mahoney (tie)
Chicago’s lousy with best actors; picking one on the basis of skill alone is plain silly. How do you compare James Vincent Meredith’s fierce dignity in The Crucible, say, with Joel Hatch’s weary bewilderment in The Adding Machine? You don’t. Still, there’s one test of bestness that makes sense to me: the ability to grow and flourish in one’s craft over time. By that measure, three actors stand out: Ross Lehman, Larry Yando, and John Mahoney. Each one’s had a long career onstage, and each took it to a new level of profundity this season. Mahoney found and mined a powerful complexity in Northlight’s otherwise weak comedy, Better Late. Yando turned Scrooge into a tortured figure and As You Like It’s tortured Jaques into a beat philosopher. Comic actor Lehman, meanwhile, seems to be going through a Picasso-like second bloom, combining amazing freedom with absolute mastery. Lehman in The Comedy of Errors: Through 6/29, Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Sun 6/8, 3 and 7 PM, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600, $54-$70. —Tony Adler
Joel Stanley Huff, Organic Theater Company
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