Rita Lyons, a woman who shops for living room furniture at the bedside of her dying husband, smothers her gay son and casually tells her daughter she thinks her grandson may be “a little bit retarded,” among other things.
Lavin remains best known for her long-running role as the title waitress in TV’s Alice, but she is also a Broadway star of five decades, who regularly returns to the New York stage while running a theater company in her adopted hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina.
Other Honors for This Role:
—Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Play
—Outer Critics Circle Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Play
—Drama League nomination for Distinguished Performance Award
1970: Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play, Last of the Red Hot Lovers
1987: Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, Broadway Bound
1998: Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play, The Diary of Anne Frank
2001: Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife
2010: Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play, Collected Stories
In 2011, Lavin originated the roles of Silda Grauman in off-Broadway’s Other Desert Cities, Hattie Walker in the Kennedy Center production of Follies and Rita Lyons in the off-Broadway world premiere of The Lyons. All three productions made it to Broadway this season, and Lavin and the women who replaced her in the other shows [Judith Light and Jayne Houdyshell] all earned Tony nominations.
“[The Lyons] has the ability to connect with people, and when they connect, they laugh out loud to what they recognize in their own families and in themselves and each other. It’s a very satisfying play to do." —Lavin in an opening night interview with Broadway.com, 4/23/12