Best Of 2006

Best Actress: April Bender

Bender, who’s worked mostly for Hat Trick Theatre, is easily one of the most exciting — and many-sided — actresses on any stage. Just look at the range she’s shown in one season: In Private Eyes, she was Lisa, a deceptively sexy woman whose penchant for brinksmanship made her dangerous to any lothario. In Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, she was Diane, a badly wounded rape victim still trying to understand the role of justice in the universe. And in When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? she was Clarice, a usually demure violinist whose self-restraint gave way to rage when she realized that her husband couldn’t protect her from a vicious drug smuggler. All were complicated characters, and Bender played each one with full respect for their complexity. Call it by its name: pure talent.