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Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play

Drama Desk Award
for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Awarded for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Location 23x15px United States
Presented by Drama Desk
Currently held by
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Official website

The Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play is an annual award presented by Drama Desk in recognition of achievements in the theatre among Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway productions. The awards were established in 1955, with acting awards being given without making distinctions between roles in plays and musicals, or actors and actresses. The new award categories were later created in the 1975 ceremony.

† - indicates the performance won the Tony Award
‡ - indicates the performance was also nominated for the Tony Award

Winners and nominees


Year Actress Play Character
Ellen Burstyn Same Time, Next Year Doris †
Elizabeth Ashley Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie ‡
Female Ensemble Women Behind Bars Female Ensemble
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl ‡
Rita Moreno The Ritz Googie Gomez
Diana Rigg The Misanthrope Celimene ‡
Maggie Smith Private Lives Amanda Prynne ‡
Liv Ullmann A Doll's House Nora Helmer ‡
Rosemary Harris The Royal Family Julie Cavendish ‡
Fran Brill What Every Woman Knows Maggie Wylie
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl ‡
Lois Nettleton They Knew What They Wanted Amy
Meryl Streep 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, A Memory of Two Mondays, Secret Service and Trelawny of the 'Wells' Various Characters
Irene Worth The Cherry Orchard Ranevskaya ‡
Trazana Beverley For Colored Girls Lady in Red
Blythe Danner The New York Idea Cynthia Karslake
Cara Duff-MacCormick The Philanderer Julia Craven
Diane Ladd Lu Ann Hampton Laverly Lu Ann Hampton
Sofia Landon Peg o' My Heart Peg
Dorothy McGuire The Night of the Iguana Hannah
Jessica Tandy The Gin Game Fonsia Dorsey †
Helen Burns Catsplay Mrs. Bela Orban
Patricia Elliott Tartuffe Dorine
Tammy Grimes Tartuffe Elmire
Carol Mayo Jenkins Zinnia Zinnia
Shirley Knight Landscape of the Body Betty
Constance Cummings Wings Emily Stilson †
Carole Shelley The Elephant Man Madge Kendal
Kate Reid Bosoms and Neglect Henny
Frances Sternhagen On Golden Pond Ethel Thayer ‡
Susan Stevens The Price of Genius Unknown


Year Actress Play Character
Pat Carroll Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein
Blythe Danner Betrayal Emma ‡
Phyllis Frelich Children of a Lesser God Sarah Norman †
Mary Tyler Moore Whose Life is it Anyway? Claire
Susan Sarandon A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking Maude Mix
Joan Copeland The American Clock Rose Baum
Eva Le Gallienne To Grandmother's House We Go Grandie ‡
Mary Beth Hurt Crimes of the Heart Meg MaGrath
Amanda Plummer A Taste of Honey Josephine ‡
Elizabeth Taylor The Little Foxes Regina Giddens ‡
Zoe Caldwell Medea Medea
Barbara Bryne Entertaining Mr Sloane Kath
Constance Cummings The Chalk Garden Mrs. St. Maugham
Elizabeth Franz Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You Sister Mary Ignatius
Bernadette Peters Sally and Marsha Sally
Jessica Tandy Foxfire Annie Nations †
Suzanne Bertish Skirmishes Jean
Colleen Dewhurst Queen and the Rebels Argia
Thuli Dumakude Poppie Nongena Poppie
Christine Estabrook Win/Lose/Draw Various Characters
Susan Sarandon Extremities Marjorie
Joan Allen And a Nightingale Sang Hellen Stott
Rosemary Harris Heartbreak House Hesione Hushabye ‡
Kate Nelligan A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan ‡
Natsuko Ohama Sound and Beauty Woman
Marilyn Rockefellow Open Admissions Ginny Carlsen
Irene Worth The Golden Age Isabel Hastings Hoyt
Rosemary Harris Pack of Lies Barbara Jackson ‡
Stockard Channing A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Sheila †
Roxanne Hart Digby Faye
Lynn Redgrave Aren't We All? Mrs. W. Tatham
Elizabeth Wilson Salonika Enid
Lily Tomlin The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Various Characters †
Joan Allen The Marriage of Bette and Boo Bette Brennan
Stockard Channing The House of Blue Leaves Bunny Flingus
Judith Ivey Precious Sons Bea
Swoosie Kurtz The House of Blue Leaves Bananas Shaughnessy
Kathryn Pogson Aunt Dan and Lemon Lemon
Linda Lavin Broadway Bound Kate Jerome †
Robin Bartlett The Early Girl Jean
Lindsay Duncan Les Liaisons Dangereuses Marquise de Merteuil ‡
Dana Ivey Driving Miss Daisy Daisy Werthan
Amy Madigan The Lucky Spot Sue Jack
Dianne Wiest Hunting Cockroaches Anka
Stockard Channing Woman in Mind Susan
Kathy Bates Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune Frankie
Amy Irving The Road to Mecca Elsa
Glenda Jackson Macbeth Lady Macbeth
E. Katherine Kerr Laughing Wild Woman
Gordana Rashovich Shayna Maidel Luisa
Pauline Collins Shirley Valentine Shirley Valentine †
Joan Allen The Heidi Chronicles Heidi Holland ‡
Robin Bartlett Reckless Rachel
Colleen Dewhurst Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Gloria Foster The Forbidden City Miss Molly Hoffenburg
Nancy Marchand The Cocktail Hour Ann


Year Actress Play Character
Geraldine James The Merchant of Venice Portia
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Twelfth Night Viola
S. Epatha Merkerson The Piano Lesson Berniece
Mary-Louise Parker Prelude to a Kiss Rita Boyle ‡
Mercedes Ruehl Lost in Yonkers Bella Kurnitz †
Stockard Channing Six Degrees of Separation Ouisa Kittredge ‡
Angela Goethals The Good Times Are Killing Me Edna Arkins
Audra Lindley About Time Old Woman
Laura Esterman Marvin's Room Bessie
Jane Alexander The Visit Claire Zachanassian ‡
Glenn Close Death and the Maiden Paulina Salas Escobar †
Deborah Hedwall Sight Unseen Patricia
Jane Alexander The Sisters Rosensweig Sara Goode ‡
Juliana Carneiro da Cunha Les Atrides Clytemnestra
Christine Lahti Three Hotels Barbara Hoyle
Debra Monk Redwood Curtain Geneva Riordan
Natasha Richardson Anna Christie Anna Christopherson ‡
Myra Carter Three Tall Women A
Kathleen Chalfant Angels in America: Perestroika Various Characters
Amy Irving Broken Glass Sylvia Gellburg
Diana Rigg Medea Medea
Joan Rivers Sally Marr...and Her Escorts Sally Marr ‡
Harriet Walter Three Birds Alighting on a Field Biddy
Cherry Jones The Heiress Catherine Sloper †
Mary Alice Having Our Say Bessie Delany
Stockard Channing Hapgood Mother
Linda Lavin Death Defying Acts Dorothy / Carol
Helen Mirren A Month in the Country Natalia Petrovna ‡
Mercedes Ruehl The Rose Tattoo Serafina Delle Rose
Zoe Caldwell Master Class Maria Callas
Catherine Byrne Molly Sweeney Molly
Uta Hagen Mrs. Klein Mrs. Klein
Lisa Gay Hamilton Valley Song Veronica
Rosemary Harris A Delicate Balance Agnes ‡
Sarah Jessica Parker Sylvia Sylvia
Janet McTeer A Doll's House Nora Helmer †
Jayne Atkinson The Skriker The Skriker
Frances Conroy The Rehearsal The Countess
Shirley Knight The Young Man From Atlanta Lily Dale Kidder ‡
Vanessa Redgrave Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra
Lia Williams Skylight Kyra Hollis ‡
Cherry Jones Pride's Crossing Mabel
Edie Falco Side Man Terry
Marie Mullen The Beauty Queen of Leenane Maureen Folan †
J. Smith-Cameron As Bees In Honey Drown Alexa
Frances Sternhagen Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Kathleen Chalfant Wit Vivian Bearing
Judi Dench Amy's View Esme Allen †
Lindsay Duncan Ashes to Ashes Rebecca
Elizabeth Franz Death of a Salesman Linda Loman
Swoosie Kurtz The Mineola Twins Myra / Myrna
Zoë Wanamaker Electra Electra


Year Actress Play Character
Eileen Heckart The Waverly Gallery Gladys Green
Sinéad Cusack Our Lady of Sligo Mai O'Hara
Linda Lavin The Tale of the Allergist's Wife Marjorie
Claudia Shear Dirty Blonde Jo / Mae West
Lynne Thigpen Jar the Floor Lola
Charlayne Woodard In the Blood Hester, La Negrita
Mary-Louise Parker Proof Catherine †
Eileen Atkins The Unexpected Man Woman
Janie Dee Comic Potential Jacie Triplethree
Mary Beth Fisher Boys Get Girl Caroline
Marian Seldes The Play About the Baby The Woman
Lili Taylor The Dead Eye Boy Shirley / Diane
Lindsay Duncan Private Lives Amanda Prynne †
Robin Bartlett Everett Beekin Sophie
Anna Paquin The Glory of Living Lisa
Sarah Jessica Parker Wonder of the World Cass
Mercedes Ruehl The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Stevie ‡
Meryl Streep The Seagull Arkadina
Vanessa Redgrave Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone †
Jayne Atkinson Enchanted April Lotty Wilton ‡
Marylouise Burke Kimberly Akimbo Kimberly
Claire Higgins Vincent in Brixton Ursula Loyler ‡
Dael Orlandersmith Yellowman Alma
Fiona Shaw Medea Medea
Viola Davis Intimate Apparel Esther
Phylicia Rashad A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger †
Eileen Atkins The Retreat from Moscow Alice ‡
Shannon Cochran Bug Agnes White
Lizan Mitchell The Trojan Women Hecuba
J. Smith-Cameron Sarah, Sarah Sarah
Cherry Jones Doubt Sister Aloysius Beauvier †
Veanne Cox Last Easter June
Judy Kaye Souvenir Florence Foster Jenkins
Laura Linney Sight Unseen Patricia ‡
Frances Sternhagen Echoes of the War Mrs. Dowey
Kathleen Turner Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha ‡
Lois Smith The Trip to Bountiful Carrie Watts
Margaret Colin Defiance Margaret
Cherry Jones Faith Healer Grace
Jennifer Jason Leigh Abigail's Party Beverly
Jan Maxwell Entertaining Mr Sloane Kath
Julie White The Little Dog Laughed Diane †
Eve Best A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan ‡
Orlagh Cassidy The Field Maimie Flanagan
Blythe Danner Suddenly, Last Summer Mrs. Venable
Jennifer Mudge Dutchman Lula
Sandra Oh Satellites Nina
Annie Parisse The Internationalist Sara
Meryl Streep Mother Courage and Her Children Mother Courage
Deanna Dunagan August: Osage County Violet Weston †
Sinéad Cusack Rock 'n' Roll Eleanor / Esme
Frances McDormand The Country Girl Georgie Elgin
Amy Morton August: Osage County Barbara Weston Fordham ‡
Fiona Shaw Happy Days Winnie
Julie White From Up Here Grace
Janet McTeer Mary Stuart Mary Stuart
Saidah Arrika Ekulona Ruined Mama Nadi
Jane Fonda 33 Variations Katherine Brandt ‡
Marcia Gay Harden God of Carnage Veronica †
Elizabeth Marvel Fifty Words Jan
Jan Maxwell Scenes from an Execution Galactia


Year Actress Play Character
Jan Maxwell The Royal Family Julie Cavendish ‡
Ayesha Antoine My Wonderful Day Winnie Barnstairs
Melissa Errico Candida Candida
Anne Hathaway Twelfth Night Viola
Kristen Johnston So Help Me God! Lily Darnley
Laura Linney Time Stands Still Sarah Goodwin ‡
Frances McDormand Good People Margie Walsh †
Nina Arianda Born Yesterday Emma 'Billie' Dawn ‡
Stockard Channing Other Desert Cities Polly Wyeth
Laurie Metcalf The Other Place Juliana Smithton
Michele Pawk A Small Fire Emily Bridges
Lily Rabe The Merchant of Venice Portia
Tracie Bennett End of the Rainbow Judy Garland
Sanaa Lathan By the Way, Meet Vera Stark Vera Stark
Linda Lavin The Lyons Rita Lyons ‡
Jennifer Lim Chinglish Xi Yan
Kim Martin-Cotten A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Carey Mulligan Through a Glass Darkly Karin
Joely Richardson Side Effects Lindy
Cicely Tyson The Trip to Bountiful Carrie Watts †
Maria Dizzia Belleville Abby
Amy Morton Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha ‡
Julia Murney Falling Tami
Vanessa Redgrave The Revisionist Maria
Miriam Silverman Finks Natalie
Audra McDonald Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill Billie Holiday
Barbara Andres I Remember Mama Mama
Tyne Daly Mothers and Sons Katharine Gerard ‡
Laurie Metcalf Domesticated Judy Pulver
J. Smith-Cameron Juno and the Paycock Juno Boyle
Harriet Walter Julius Caesar Brutus
Helen Mirren The Audience Queen Elizabeth II
Brooke Bloom You Got Older Mae
Kathleen Chalfant A Walk in the Woods Irina Botvinnik
Kristin Griffith The Fatal Weakness Ollie Espenshade
Jan Maxwell The City of Conversation Hester Ferris
Carey Mulligan Skylight Kyra Holis
Tonya Pinkins Rasheeda Speaking Jaclyn Spaulding

See also


External links