Best Actor - 2007
Luther Chakurian of Masquerade Theatre
Intense and passionate, Luther Chakurian, a mainstay of Masquerade Theatre for nearly a decade, embodies this multitalented musical company with highly stylized, brooding performances that grab you by the throat and take your breath away. Starring in three of the group's most intriguing recent shows, Jane Eyre, Sweeney Todd and Parade, he emitted dark sexiness as troubled Victorian Rochester, scared the bejesus out of us as avenging demon barber Todd and personified the terrified, yet innocent, accused child molester Leo Franks. Chakurian has a softer side, too. Witness this year's dance-happy Cornelius in Hello, Dolly and his knuckle-dragging, gnat-picking Wickersham Brother in Seussical. Blessed with a most idiosyncratic singing voice, edgy and coarse as if his tonsils have been dipped in sulfuric acid, he soars in the contemporary pop anthems that the current crop of composers is so fond of (like Wildhorn's Jekyll and Hyde). Yet, he also brings a refreshingly different, masculine sound to romantic ballads. Chakurian's superb Sweeney, vengeful, full of wrath, as focused as a heat-seeking ICBM, was Houston's most distinctive portrayal of 2007 — beautifully sung, impeccably acted, wicked as hell.