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Best Actresses Houston 2001 - Lisa Marie Singerman, Anne Quackenbush, Shelly Calene-Black, Joanne Bonasso, Ann James, Connie Cooper and Elizabeth Byrd

The entire estrogen-laden cast of Stages' production of Anton in Show Business packed such a cohesive punch of acting chemistry that the award goes to the entire group. There was Singerman, who had the unnerving job of acting from a seat in the audience. Bonasso's naive Texas character was all round-eyed amazement at theater life. Quackenbush, the black-on-black-wearing off-off-Broadway theater queen, got down to the dirty side of theatrical trenches. Calene-Black was a platinum-blond TV star who made you cry right before she cut you with all her starlet vanity. James strutted roosterlike as the director of "the Black Rage Ensemble." Cooper did duty as a scary lesbian producer and a male western singer, both completely different and completely believable. And finally Byrd's European male director, who had so much passion that he grabbed his crotch and wailed, "I fuck you with my art and then you cry out," brought the whole show together. Put all together, this team of women got to the deepest diamond of truth hidden in writer Jane Martin's scathingly loving screed about theater today: It's all about community, art and having a great big heart.

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