The Austin Chronicle

Most Valuable Players

A Guide to Austin Stage Actors

September 28, 2001, Arts

Karen Kuykendall

On the scene since: "childhood"

MVP for: Zachary Scott Theatre Center

Recent roles: Bella/Eleanor, Big Love, Rude Mechanicals, 2001; ensemble, The World Goes Round, Zach, 2001; narrator (Andy Warhol), The Rocky Horror Show, Zach, 2000, 1999; Diana Vreeland, Full Gallop, Zach, 1999; various, Angels in America, Parts I & II, Zach, 1998.

Honors: Best Diva, Chronicle "Best of Austin" 1999; Critics Table award & Payne nomination, Full Gallop; Critics Table nomination, Angels in America, Part II; Critics Table award & Payne nomination, Angels in America, Part I; Payne award & Critics Table nomination, Cabaret.

In the plug for Big Love on the Rude Mechs' Web site, Kuykendall is described as Austin's reigning theatre diva. Indeed, Kuykendall has held court on the local cabaret circuit for quite a spell, most successfully, and done equally well in plays, often playing erudite, sharp-witted society dames (who can really work that audience, baby) -- the kind you'd sidle up to at a fancy event only to find yourself on the losing end of one of her cool, cool looks (see her vividly brittle Diana Vreeland in Full Gallop). Kuykendall isn't cold, though, no way: Over the years, this charming actress has portrayed a variety of characters as caring and generous as the woman herself. Her mama Bella in Big Love is warm and wise, her Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret heartbreakingly sympathetic, and her beloved performances with Standish Meachum of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters offered intimate opportunities to see the emotional range of the divine Ms. K.

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