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Best Actress in a Play St. Louis 2009 - Michelle Hand

In Rebecca Gilman's involving play, Dana is a frustrated artist who ends up in a sanitarium and then — when she realizes her health insurance is about to run out — pretends to be colorful slugger Darryl Strawberry in order not to get evicted. In this NonProphet Theater Company venture, Michelle Hand's Dana was so bravura, the temptation might be to say she hit it out of the park. But a sports pun doesn't describe the extent to which Hand, when she's percolating, savors a character. If you watch baseball on TV, you know the wide-eyed smile that ensues after someone catches a foul ball and then gives that ball to the nearest kid. That same smile seems to lurk just under the mask of Hand's various onstage personas. It matters not whether the next play is comedy or drama, contemporary or period, large role or small, Hand always seems to be the nearest kid. There is no such thing as a Michelle Hand role. She's like the dancer in A Chorus Line who proclaims, "I can do that." More often than not, Hand can.

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