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Going for 2012 Tony Gold! Handicapping the Race for Best Actress in a Play

Going for 2012 Tony Gold! Handicapping the Race for Best Actress in a Play
Left to Right: Stockard Channing in 'Other Desert Cities,' Tracie Bennett in 'End of the Rainbow' & Nina Arianda in 'Venus in Fur' touts Nicole Ari Parker for a Best Actress nod.

It’s almost Tony time, and let's face it: We’re obsessed! In anticipation of the 2012 Tony nominations, which will be announced on May 1, the editorial staff clocked 12 of the top races. Take a look at our forecast, including frontrunners, hopefuls and a “shout out” to one performer or show we hope the Tony nominators won’t forget. First up is our cheat sheet for the highly contested race for Best Actress in a Play.

Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur
In a performance that has “Tony nominee” stamped on it, Arianda (nominated last year for Born Yesterday) dazzles as both an eager young NYC actress and a European dominatrix, the character she is auditioning to play.

Tracie Bennett, End of the Rainbow
Critical hosannas for Bennett’s no-holds-barred incarnation of Judy Garland at the end of the doomed diva’s life (including a fiery "Come Rain or Come Shine") has catapulted this British actress to the top of the Tony leader board.

Stockard Channing, Other Desert Cities
This Tony winner (and five-time nominee) will be back on the aisle for her priceless delivery of a boatload of zingers as the conservative Palm Springs matriarch in Jon Robin Baitz’s hit comedy.

Tyne Daly, Master Class
Embracing her inner diva, Daly made the role of Maria Callas her own.

Rachel Griffiths, Other Desert Cities
As Stockard Channing's memoir-writing daughter, Griffiths was a mesmerizing neurotic.

Linda Lavin, The Lyons
This queen of comedy wrings every laugh as a mother from hell.

Jennifer Lim, Chinglish
If the play had run, Lim would be a frontrunner for her English/Chinese tour-de-force.

Cynthia Nixon, Wit
Don't count out this Tony winner's fierce star turn as a cancer patient.

Also possible: Angela Bassett (The Mountaintop), Kim Cattrall (Private Lives), Rosemary Harris (The Road to Mecca), Tracie Thoms (Stick Fly).

Nicole Ari Parker, A Streetcar Named Desire
In a "where did she come from?!" performance, this Broadway newcomer puts a strong stamp on the role of Blanche DuBois, nailing every challenging scene and proving herself worthy of Tony recognition in a breakthrough debut.

Click for more Tony forecasts!

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