Most Valuable Players

A Guide to Austin Stage Actors

Helen Merino in <i>Hamlet</i>
Helen Merino in Hamlet

Helen Merino

On the scene since: 1998

MVP for: Zachary Scott Theatre Center

Recent Roles: Hamlet, Hamlet, Austin Shakespeare Festival, 2001; Joby, Anton in Show Business, State Theater Co., 2001; Thea, Going Public, Austin TheaterWorks, 2001; various, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Project InterAct, 2000; Lenny, Crimes of the Heart, 2000; various, Pride's Crossing, Zach, 2000.

Honors: Critics Table & Payne nominations, Anton in Show Business; Payne nominations, Midsummer, Crimes of the Heart, Pride's Crossing; Critics Table & Payne awards, My Children! My Africa!

Arguably the least self-conscious, most natural actor in Austin. With her performance in Zach's Last Night of Ballyhoo, Merino took local theatergoers by surprise, her unaffected manner, her total comfort onstage, and her beaming smile leading them to ask, "Who's she?" Her character was named Sunny, aptly enough, and Merino's follow-up work has been equally luminous, most notably the idealistic South African student in My Children! My Africa!. So spontaneous and true that she can be said, as the Bard put it, "to hold a mirror up to nature."

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