When iTheatre Collaborative postponed its production of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark last year, it was because casting of the title role wasn't going well. Vera Stark is, like so many actresses who start out hungry and wind up legendary, alone on her own stage. Unlike a lot of leading-lady parts, she's also tough to play. She works alongside other actors only because she needs someone to talk to, but none — in her estimation, and in ours — are her equals. Vera is a fictional character, drawn from life by playwright Lynn Nottage. Nicole Belit, the woman who played her in the iTheatre production, was very real. Eyes pooling with tears, nostrils flaring, and with posture that suggests she'd swallowed a yardstick, Belit was dazzling. Her second act performance provided wider range and the opportunity to play drunkenness, anger, and an aged actress's scenery-chewing. But it's the Vera of Act One who stayed with us: wildly romantic, full of energy and singleness of purpose as she aspired to a grander existence.