BEST ACTRESS Minneapolis 2005 - Sonja Parks
The mark of a great actress is her ability to inhabit her role convincingly in any part or production, and Parks possesses this ephemeral quality. The last year has seen her in two Children's Theatre shows: the Somali/African American collision Snapshot Silhouette and the eco-warning Splash Hatch on the E Going Down. She played characters younger than herself in both productions, but Parks manages to combine youthfulness with bite--she never plays a character as a type, and she brings a sparkling authenticity to the tumult of adolescence. In the same span of time, she played a mother in Pillsbury House's Bel Canto and took on the role of Roxanne in Ten Thousand Things' Cyrano, two of the more well-received shows in the Twin Cities in 2004. She was a standout in both, though her performance as single mom Bessie in Bel Canto was especially memorable. In a show that gave her every opportunity to overemote, Parks gave a powerfully bittersweet performance opposite co-star Will Sturdivant, evoking the national hangover of the '70s while imparting a sense of a life gone in directions unforeseen. Whether onstage for children (as in the stripped-down Ten Thousand Things) or in more conventional productions, Parks combines craft with evident depth of heart.