Here's a first for the 29th annual naming of the Post-Gazette Performer of the Year -- a trio.
The Post-Gazette has honored a performer in a Pittsburgh production (or productions) each theater season since 1984, never naming the same actor twice, and once honoring two at a time (Simon Bradbury and Derdriu Ring in 2010).
This year, faced with the impossible task of picking from among Leo Marks, a visitor to Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre via Los Angeles, and local actresses Mary Rawson and Tami Dixon, we chose not to choose. Here's why, in no particular order:
• It was a very good year for Leo Marks, who commanded the stage during the Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre's Chekhov Festival, stealing scenes as a love-struck suitor in "The Three Sisters" and a zealous doctor in "Ivanov," then sending waves of wide-eyed laughter through the Stephen Foster Memorial as a man railing against his own nature in "The Bear," part of the Funny Chekhov program. Mr. Marks continued his streak this month, playing opposite his talented wife, Nike Doukas, another strong PICT player, in "The School for Lies."
• Tami Dixon was a triple threat in 2012, as the artistic director of Bricolage, where she starred in a riveting production of "Dutchman" and championed post-show discussions about the play's racial themes. She also culminated a project of more than two years as playwright and performer for "South Side Stories," a solo show that she developed from a grant proposal and brought to the Hamburg stage at City Theatre. All that, and she was part of the collaboration that produced the high-concept, multilayered "STRATA" experience.
• Violet Watson of "August: Osage County" can be the role of a lifetime in the right hands, and in the practiced grasp of Mary Rawson, the embittered pill-popping matriarch was hands down the top individual performance of 2012. Ms. Rawson, wife of Post-Gazette senior theater critic Christopher Rawson, has been a stalwart of local theater, a teacher of up-and-coming performers and was Cousin Mary Owl on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." In the "August" production by The Rep, Point Park University's professional company, she was in top form as a stricken mother and abandoned wife, dulling pain and feeding her bitterness with drugs and booze.
Mr. Rawson has an emeritus position at the Post-Gazette and was not involved in any way in the preparation for, nor the selection of, this honor.
Sharon Eberson: email@example.com or 412-263-1960. First Published January 2, 2013 5:00 AM