Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play

Last updated
Drama Desk Award for
Outstanding Actress in a Play
Awarded forOutstanding Actress in a Play
LocationUnited States
Presented by Drama Desk
Currently held by Elaine May for The Waverly Gallery (2019)
Website DramaDeskAwards.com

The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play is an annual award presented by Drama Desk in recognition of achievements in the theatre among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions. The awards were established in 1955, with acting awards being given without making distinctions between roles in plays and musicals, or actors and actresses. The new award categories were later created in the 1975 ceremony.

Contents

† - indicates the performance won the Tony Award
‡ - indicates the performance was also nominated for the Tony Award
§ - indicates the performance was nominated and won Tony Award in the Featured Category

Winners and nominees

1970s

YearActressPlayCharacterTony
1975
Ellen Burstyn Same Time, Next Year Doris
Elizabeth Ashley Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie
Female Ensemble Women Behind Bars Female EnsembleN/A
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl
Rita Moreno The Ritz Googie GomezN/A
Diana Rigg The Misanthrope Celimene
Maggie Smith Private Lives Amanda Prynne
Liv Ullmann A Doll's House Nora Helmer
1976
Rosemary Harris The Royal Family Julie Cavendish
Fran Brill What Every Woman Knows Maggie WylieN/A
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl
Lois Nettleton They Knew What They Wanted AmyN/A
Meryl Streep 27 Wagons Full of Cotton , A Memory of Two Mondays , Secret Service and Trelawny of the 'Wells' Various Characters
1977
Irene Worth The Cherry Orchard Ranevskaya
Trazana Beverley For Colored Girls Lady in RedN/A
Blythe Danner The New York IdeaCynthia Karslake
Cara Duff-MacCormick The Philanderer Julia Craven
Diane Ladd Lu Ann Hampton Laverly Lu Ann Hampton
Sofia LandonPeg o' My HeartPeg
Dorothy McGuire The Night of the Iguana Hannah
1978
Jessica Tandy The Gin Game Fonsia Dorsey
Helen Burns CatsplayMrs. Bela OrbanN/A
Patricia Elliott Tartuffe Dorine
Tammy Grimes Tartuffe Elmire
Carol Mayo Jenkins ZinniaZinnia
Shirley Knight Landscape of the Body Betty
1979
Constance Cummings Wings Emily Stilson
Carole Shelley The Elephant Man Madge Kendal
Kate Reid Bosoms and Neglect HennyN/A
Frances Sternhagen On Golden Pond Ethel Thayer
Susan StevensThe Price of GeniusUnknownN/A

1980s

YearActressPlayCharacterTony
1980
Pat Carroll Gertrude SteinGertrude SteinN/A
Blythe Danner Betrayal Emma
Phyllis Frelich Children of a Lesser God Sarah Norman
Mary Tyler Moore Whose Life Is it Anyway? ClaireN/A
Susan Sarandon A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around TalkingMaude MixN/A
1981
Joan Copeland The American Clock Rose BaumN/A
Eva Le Gallienne To Grandmother's House We GoGrandie
Mary Beth Hurt Crimes of the Heart Meg MaGrathN/A
Amanda Plummer A Taste of Honey Josephine
Elizabeth Taylor The Little Foxes Regina Giddens
1982
Zoe Caldwell Medea Medea
Barbara Bryne Entertaining Mr Sloane KathN/A
Constance Cummings The Chalk Garden Mrs. St. Maugham
Elizabeth Franz Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You Sister Mary Ignatius
Bernadette Peters Sally and Marsha Sally
1983
Jessica Tandy Foxfire Annie Nations
Suzanne Bertish SkirmishesJeanN/A
Colleen Dewhurst Queen and the RebelsArgia
Thuli Dumakude Poppie NongenaPoppie
Christine Estabrook Win/Lose/DrawVarious Characters
Susan Sarandon Extremities Marjorie
1984
Joan Allen And a Nightingale Sang Hellen StottN/A
Rosemary Harris Heartbreak House Hesione Hushabye
Kate Nelligan A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Natsuko Ohama Sound and Beauty WomanN/A
Marilyn Rockefellow Open Admissions Ginny Carlsen
Irene Worth The Golden Age Isabel Hastings Hoyt
1985
Rosemary Harris Pack of Lies Barbara Jackson
Stockard Channing A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Sheila
Roxanne Hart DigbyFayeN/A
Lynn Redgrave Aren't We All? Mrs. W. Tatham
Elizabeth Wilson SalonikaEnid
1986
Lily Tomlin The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Various Characters
Joan Allen The Marriage of Bette and BooBette BrennanN/A
Stockard Channing The House of Blue Leaves Bunny Flingus
Judith Ivey Precious SonsBea
Swoosie Kurtz The House of Blue Leaves Bananas Shaughnessy
Kathryn Pogson Aunt Dan and Lemon Lemon
1987
Linda Lavin Broadway Bound Kate Jerome
Robin Bartlett The Early GirlJeanN/A
Lindsay Duncan Les Liaisons Dangereuses Marquise de Merteuil
Dana Ivey Driving Miss Daisy Daisy WerthanN/A
Amy Madigan The Lucky SpotSue Jack
Dianne Wiest Hunting CockroachesAnka
1988
Stockard Channing Woman in Mind SusanN/A
Kathy Bates Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune FrankieN/A
Amy Irving The Road to Mecca Elsa
Glenda Jackson Macbeth Lady Macbeth
E. Katherine Kerr Laughing Wild WomanN/A
Gordana RashovichShayna MaidelLuisa
1989
Pauline Collins Shirley Valentine Shirley Valentine
Joan Allen The Heidi Chronicles Heidi Holland
Robin Bartlett Reckless RachelN/A
Colleen Dewhurst Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Gloria Foster The Forbidden CityMiss Molly Hoffenburg
Nancy Marchand The Cocktail Hour Ann

1990s

YearActressPlayCharacterTony
1990
Geraldine James The Merchant of Venice Portia
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Twelfth Night Viola N/A
S. Epatha Merkerson The Piano Lesson Berniece
Mary-Louise Parker Prelude to a Kiss Rita Boyle
1991
Mercedes Ruehl Lost in Yonkers Bella Kurnitz
Stockard Channing Six Degrees of Separation Ouisa Kittredge
Angela Goethals The Good Times Are Killing MeEdna ArkinsN/A
Audra Lindley About Time Old Woman
1992
Laura Esterman Marvin's Room BessieN/A
Jane Alexander The Visit Claire Zachanassian
Glenn Close Death and the Maiden Paulina Salas Escobar
Deborah Hedwall Sight Unseen PatriciaN/A
1993
Jane Alexander The Sisters Rosensweig Sara Goode
Juliana Carneiro da Cunha Les AtridesClytemnestraN/A
Christine Lahti Three HotelsBarbara Hoyle
Debra Monk Redwood Curtain Geneva Riordan
Natasha Richardson Anna Christie Anna Christopherson
1994
Myra Carter Three Tall Women AN/A
Kathleen Chalfant Angels in America: Perestroika Various CharactersN/A
Amy Irving Broken Glass Sylvia Gellburg
Diana Rigg Medea Medea
Joan Rivers Sally Marr...and Her EscortsSally Marr
Harriet Walter Three Birds Alighting on a Field BiddyN/A
1995
Cherry Jones The Heiress Catherine Sloper
Mary Alice Having Our Say Bessie Delany
Stockard Channing Hapgood MotherN/A
Linda Lavin Death Defying ActsDorothy / Carol
Helen Mirren A Month in the Country Natalia Petrovna
Mercedes Ruehl The Rose Tattoo Serafina Delle RoseN/A
1996
Zoe Caldwell Master Class Maria Callas
Catherine Byrne Molly Sweeney MollyN/A
Uta Hagen Mrs. KleinMrs. Klein
Lisa Gay Hamilton Valley SongVeronica
Rosemary Harris A Delicate Balance Agnes
Sarah Jessica Parker Sylvia SylviaN/A
1997
Janet McTeer A Doll's House Nora Helmer
Jayne Atkinson The Skriker The SkrikerN/A
Frances Conroy The Rehearsal The Countess
Shirley Knight The Young Man From Atlanta Lily Dale Kidder
Vanessa Redgrave Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra N/A
Lia Williams Skylight Kyra Hollis
1998
Cherry Jones Pride's Crossing MabelN/A
Edie Falco Side Man TerryN/A
Marie Mullen The Beauty Queen of Leenane Maureen Folan
J. Smith-Cameron As Bees In Honey Drown AlexaN/A
Frances Sternhagen Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
1999
Kathleen Chalfant Wit Vivian BearingN/A
Judi Dench Amy's View Esme Allen
Lindsay Duncan Ashes to Ashes RebeccaN/A
Elizabeth Franz Death of a Salesman Linda Loman
Swoosie Kurtz The Mineola Twins Myra / Myrna
Zoë Wanamaker Electra Electra

2000s

YearActressPlayCharacterTony
2000
Eileen Heckart The Waverly GalleryGladys GreenN/A
Sinéad Cusack Our Lady of SligoMai O'HaraN/A
Linda Lavin The Tale of the Allergist's Wife Marjorie
Claudia Shear Dirty Blonde Jo / Mae West
Lynne Thigpen Jar the FloorLolaN/A
Charlayne Woodard In the Blood Hester, La Negrita
2001
Mary-Louise Parker Proof Catherine
Eileen Atkins The Unexpected Man WomanN/A
Janie Dee Comic Potential Jacie Triplethree
Mary Beth FisherBoys Get GirlCaroline
Marian Seldes The Play About the Baby The Woman
Lili Taylor The Dead Eye BoyShirley / Diane
2002
Lindsay Duncan Private Lives Amanda Prynne
Robin Bartlett Everett BeekinSophieN/A
Anna Paquin The Glory of Living Lisa
Sarah Jessica Parker Wonder of the World Cass
Mercedes Ruehl The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Stevie
Meryl Streep The Seagull ArkadinaN/A
2003
Vanessa Redgrave Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Jayne Atkinson Enchanted April Lotty Wilton
Marylouise Burke Kimberly Akimbo KimberlyN/A
Claire Higgins Vincent in Brixton Ursula Loyler
Dael Orlandersmith Yellowman AlmaN/A
Fiona Shaw Medea Medea
2004
Viola Davis Intimate Apparel EstherN/A
Phylicia Rashad A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger
Eileen Atkins The Retreat from Moscow Alice
Shannon Cochran Bug Agnes WhiteN/A
Lizan Mitchell The Trojan Women Hecuba
J. Smith-Cameron Sarah, SarahSarah
2005
Cherry Jones Doubt Sister Aloysius Beauvier
Veanne Cox Last EasterJuneN/A
Judy Kaye Souvenir Florence Foster Jenkins
Laura Linney Sight Unseen Patricia
Frances Sternhagen Echoes of the WarMrs. DoweyN/A
Kathleen Turner Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
2006
Lois Smith The Trip to Bountiful Carrie WattsN/A
Margaret Colin Defiance MargaretN/A
Cherry Jones Faith Healer Grace
Jennifer Jason Leigh Abigail's Party Beverly
Jan Maxwell Entertaining Mr Sloane Kath
Julie White The Little Dog Laughed Diane
2007
Eve Best A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Orlagh Cassidy The Field Maimie FlanaganN/A
Blythe Danner Suddenly, Last Summer Mrs. Venable
Jennifer Mudge Dutchman Lula
Sandra Oh SatellitesNina
Annie Parisse The InternationalistSara
Meryl Streep Mother Courage and Her Children Mother Courage
2008
Deanna Dunagan August: Osage County Violet Weston
Sinéad Cusack Rock 'n' Roll Eleanor / EsmeN/A
Frances McDormand The Country Girl Georgie Elgin
Amy Morton August: Osage County Barbara Weston Fordham
Fiona Shaw Happy Days WinnieN/A
Julie White From Up HereGrace
2009
Janet McTeer Mary Stuart Mary Stuart
Saidah Arrika Ekulona Ruined Mama NadiN/A
Jane Fonda 33 Variations Katherine Brandt
Marcia Gay Harden God of Carnage Veronica
Elizabeth Marvel Fifty WordsJanN/A
Jan Maxwell Scenes from an Execution Galactia

2010s

YearActressPlayCharacterTony
2010
Jan Maxwell The Royal Family Julie Cavendish
Ayesha Antoine My Wonderful Day Winnie BarnstairsN/A
Melissa Errico Candida Candida
Anne Hathaway Twelfth Night Viola
Kristen Johnston So Help Me God!Lily Darnley
Laura Linney Time Stands Still Sarah Goodwin
2011
Frances McDormand Good People Margie Walsh
Nina Arianda Born Yesterday Emma 'Billie' Dawn
Stockard Channing Other Desert Cities Polly Wyeth
Laurie Metcalf The Other Place Juliana SmithtonN/A
Michele Pawk A Small FireEmily Bridges
Lily Rabe The Merchant of Venice Portia
2012
Tracie Bennett End of the Rainbow Judy Garland
Sanaa Lathan By the Way, Meet Vera StarkVera StarkN/A
Linda Lavin The Lyons Rita Lyons
Jennifer Lim Chinglish Xi YanN/A
Kim Martin-Cotten A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Carey Mulligan Through a Glass Darkly Karin
Joely Richardson Side EffectsLindy
2013
Cicely Tyson The Trip to Bountiful Carrie Watts
Maria Dizzia BellevilleAbbyN/A
Amy Morton Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
Julia Murney FallingTamiN/A
Vanessa Redgrave The RevisionistMaria
Miriam SilvermanFinksNatalie
2014
Audra McDonald Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill Billie Holiday
Barbara Andres I Remember Mama MamaN/A
Tyne Daly Mothers and Sons Katharine Gerard
Laurie Metcalf DomesticatedJudy PulverN/A
J. Smith-Cameron Juno and the Paycock Juno Boyle
Harriet Walter Julius Caesar Brutus
2015
Helen Mirren The Audience Queen Elizabeth II
Brooke BloomYou Got OlderMaeN/A
Kathleen Chalfant A Walk in the Woods Irina Botvinnik
Kristin Griffith The Fatal WeaknessOllie Espenshade
Jan Maxwell The City of ConversationHester Ferris
Carey Mulligan Skylight Kyra Holis
Tonya Pinkins Rasheeda SpeakingJaclyn SpauldingN/A
2016
Jessica Lange Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Tyrone
Georgia Engel JohnMertisN/A
Mamie Gummer Ugly Lies the BoneJess
Marin Ireland IronboundDarja
Nicola Walker A View from the Bridge Beatrice Carbone
2017
Laura Linney The Little Foxes Regina Giddens
Cate Blanchett The Present Anna Petrovna
Laurie Metcalf A Doll's House, Part 2 Nora
Amy Ryan Love, Love, LoveSandraN/A
Harriet Walter The Tempest Prospero
2018
Glenda Jackson Three Tall Women A
Carrie Coon Mary JaneMary JaneN/A
Denise Gough People, Places and Things Emma
Laurie Metcalf Three Tall Women B§
Billie Piper Yerma HerN/A
2019
Elaine May The Waverly Gallery Gladys
Midori FrancisUsual GirlsKyeoungN/A
Zainab Jah Boesman and Lena LenaN/A
Laurie Metcalf Hillary and Clinton Hillary Clinton
Heidi Schreck What the Constitution Means to Me Heidi

2020s

YearActressPlayCharacterTony
2020
Rose Byrne Medea Medea N/A
Liza Colón-Zayas Halfway Bitches Go Straight to HeavenSarge
Emily DavisIs This A Room Reality Winner
April MatthisToni Stone Toni Stone
Ruth Negga Hamlet Hamlet

See also

Related Research Articles

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