Best Stage Performance

Few roles bear the weight of audience expectations more than that of Blanche DuBois, the Southern belle at the center of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. She is as fragile as one of her paper lanterns — yet at the same time, she seems unstoppable for most of the play. Vivian Lee’s performance in the 1951 cinematic adaptation looms large in the public’s imagination, and I don’t envy an actor looking to make Blanche her own. The Nashville Rep took on Streetcar in February, and Karen Sternberg’s portrayal of the leading lady was captivating. She brought cunning, grace and vulnerability to the well-known role, plus an unexpected dose of humor that played just fine. ERICA CICCARONE

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