Most Valuable Players

A guide to Austin stage actors

They're what you think about when you think about Austin theatre: the actors. Oh, sure, the scene is more than just them; every theatre scene is. It's the playwrights providing the words, the directors supplying the insight, the designers creating the setting, the technicians stitching it all together. But because they're the ones under the lights, they're the ones speaking the words, and because they're the vessels through which the feeling and spirit that underscores any theatrical experience are expressed, they are what we remember. Actors are the face of the theatre.

Of course, in Austin, even when the face is familiar, you may not be able to place the name. Despite the liveliness of the theatre scene and hundreds of performers who appear regularly on its stages -- many of whom have made noteworthy artistic contributions to the city for years -- Austin hasn't many actors who are well-known. And it should have. There are thespians here whose artistry and craft is of the finest quality, whose work has moved thousands, whose commitment to Austin and talent they share with it is part -- I'd argue an integral part -- of what makes this an exceptional place to live.

That's why a few of the Chronicle arts writers -- Robi Polgar, Wayne Alan Brenner, Barry Pineo, and myself -- have penned this guide to local actors. So how do you create a guide to a community with hundreds of individual actors? Well, we're starting with 40 artists we felt have distinguished themselves through the amount of acting they've done locally, the consistent quality of that acting, the recognition they've garnered for it, and the singular qualities they bring to this theatre community. These aren't by any means the only worthy actors in Austin -- and we apologize to all the fine performers who aren't included here, we count many friends among them -- but the 40 actors profiled here are among the most prominent in the scene, artists whose work you're likely to see whenever you venture into the theatre -- and see again and again. In fact, more than half of the actors in these pages are in shows that are running this week or will be opening soon, a fact that we hope will inspire you to rush out and see for yourself why these theatre artists are among Austin's most valuable players.

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