Best Actress (2011)

Shari Watts in Grey Gardens: The Musical

Shari Watts had big, dirty shoes to fill — and fill them she did. Her turn as Big Edie Beale in Tempe Live! Theater's Grey Gardens: The Musical last April was a stunner. The ability to truly enjoy this camp musical depends on one's knowledge of (and affection for) both of the women it portrays as well as the documentary on which it's based, and mostly on how well its leading ladies impersonate the famous recluses at the center of its story. Fortunately for the former Tempe Little Theatre (which scored a major coup by snagging this Arizona première), the show featured worthy impersonations of both Big Edie and Little Edie, the true stars of this show. But it's Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis' aunt, Edith Bouvier, who's harder to capture in any production of this peculiar tuner. Still, Watts nailed it. Her flawless take on owl-eyed, bedridden Big Edie is still with us, half a year later.


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