Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play

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Drama Desk Award for
Outstanding Actress in a Play
Awarded for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Location United States
Presented by Drama Desk
Currently held by Jessica Lange for Long Day's Journey into Night (2016)
Official website DramaDesk.org

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[edit]


Year Actress Play Character Tony
Ellen Burstyn Same Time, Next Year Doris
Elizabeth Ashley Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Maggie
Female Ensemble Women Behind Bars Female Ensemble N/A
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl
Rita Moreno The Ritz Googie Gomez N/A
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 N/A
Tovah Feldshuh Yentl Yentl
Lois Nettleton They Knew What They Wanted Amy N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
Frances Sternhagen On Golden Pond Ethel Thayer
Susan Stevens The Price of Genius Unknown N/A


Year Actress Play Character Tony
Pat Carroll Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein N/A
Blythe Danner Betrayal Emma
Phyllis Frelich Children of a Lesser God Sarah Norman
Mary Tyler Moore Whose Life is it Anyway? Claire N/A
Susan Sarandon A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking Maude Mix N/A
Joan Copeland The American Clock Rose Baum N/A
Eva Le Gallienne To Grandmother's House We Go Grandie
Mary Beth Hurt Crimes of the Heart Meg MaGrath N/A
Amanda Plummer A Taste of Honey Josephine
Elizabeth Taylor The Little Foxes Regina Giddens
Zoe Caldwell Medea Medea
Barbara Bryne Entertaining Mr Sloane Kath N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
Rosemary Harris Heartbreak House Hesione Hushabye
Kate Nelligan A Moon for the Misbegotten Josie Hogan
Natsuko Ohama Sound and Beauty Woman N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
Lindsay Duncan Les Liaisons Dangereuses Marquise de Merteuil
Dana Ivey Driving Miss Daisy Daisy Werthan N/A
Amy Madigan The Lucky Spot Sue Jack
Dianne Wiest Hunting Cockroaches Anka
Stockard Channing Woman in Mind Susan N/A
Kathy Bates Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune Frankie N/A
Amy Irving The Road to Mecca Elsa
Glenda Jackson Macbeth Lady Macbeth
E. Katherine Kerr Laughing Wild Woman N/A
Gordana Rashovich Shayna Maidel Luisa
Pauline Collins Shirley Valentine Shirley Valentine
Joan Allen The Heidi Chronicles Heidi Holland
Robin Bartlett Reckless Rachel N/A
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 Tony
Geraldine James The Merchant of Venice Portia
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio Twelfth Night Viola N/A
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 N/A
Audra Lindley About Time Old Woman
Laura Esterman Marvin's Room Bessie N/A
Jane Alexander The Visit Claire Zachanassian
Glenn Close Death and the Maiden Paulina Salas Escobar
Deborah Hedwall Sight Unseen Patricia N/A
Jane Alexander The Sisters Rosensweig Sara Goode
Juliana Carneiro da Cunha Les Atrides Clytemnestra N/A
Christine Lahti Three Hotels Barbara Hoyle
Debra Monk Redwood Curtain Geneva Riordan
Natasha Richardson Anna Christie Anna Christopherson
Myra Carter Three Tall Women A N/A
Kathleen Chalfant Angels in America: Perestroika Various Characters N/A
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 N/A
Cherry Jones The Heiress Catherine Sloper
Mary Alice Having Our Say Bessie Delany
Stockard Channing Hapgood Mother N/A
Linda Lavin Death Defying Acts Dorothy / Carol
Helen Mirren A Month in the Country Natalia Petrovna
Mercedes Ruehl The Rose Tattoo Serafina Delle Rose N/A
Zoe Caldwell Master Class Maria Callas
Catherine Byrne Molly Sweeney Molly N/A
Uta Hagen Mrs. Klein Mrs. Klein
Lisa Gay Hamilton Valley Song Veronica
Rosemary Harris A Delicate Balance Agnes
Sarah Jessica Parker Sylvia Sylvia N/A
Janet McTeer A Doll's House Nora Helmer
Jayne Atkinson The Skriker The Skriker N/A
Frances Conroy The Rehearsal The Countess
Shirley Knight The Young Man From Atlanta Lily Dale Kidder
Vanessa Redgrave Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra N/A
Lia Williams Skylight Kyra Hollis
Cherry Jones Pride's Crossing Mabel N/A
Edie Falco Side Man Terry N/A
Marie Mullen The Beauty Queen of Leenane Maureen Folan
J. Smith-Cameron As Bees In Honey Drown Alexa N/A
Frances Sternhagen Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Kathleen Chalfant Wit Vivian Bearing N/A
Judi Dench Amy's View Esme Allen
Lindsay Duncan Ashes to Ashes Rebecca N/A
Elizabeth Franz Death of a Salesman Linda Loman
Swoosie Kurtz The Mineola Twins Myra / Myrna
Zoë Wanamaker Electra Electra


Year Actress Play Character Tony
Eileen Heckart The Waverly Gallery Gladys Green N/A
Sinéad Cusack Our Lady of Sligo Mai O'Hara N/A
Linda Lavin The Tale of the Allergist's Wife Marjorie
Claudia Shear Dirty Blonde Jo / Mae West
Lynne Thigpen Jar the Floor Lola N/A
Charlayne Woodard In the Blood Hester, La Negrita
Mary-Louise Parker Proof Catherine
Eileen Atkins The Unexpected Man Woman N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
Vanessa Redgrave Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Cavan Tyrone
Jayne Atkinson Enchanted April Lotty Wilton
Marylouise Burke Kimberly Akimbo Kimberly N/A
Claire Higgins Vincent in Brixton Ursula Loyler
Dael Orlandersmith Yellowman Alma N/A
Fiona Shaw Medea Medea
Viola Davis Intimate Apparel Esther N/A
Phylicia Rashad A Raisin in the Sun Lena Younger
Eileen Atkins The Retreat from Moscow Alice
Shannon Cochran Bug Agnes White N/A
Lizan Mitchell The Trojan Women Hecuba
J. Smith-Cameron Sarah, Sarah Sarah
Cherry Jones Doubt Sister Aloysius Beauvier
Veanne Cox Last Easter June N/A
Judy Kaye Souvenir Florence Foster Jenkins
Laura Linney Sight Unseen Patricia
Frances Sternhagen Echoes of the War Mrs. Dowey N/A
Kathleen Turner Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
Lois Smith The Trip to Bountiful Carrie Watts N/A
Margaret Colin Defiance Margaret N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
Frances McDormand The Country Girl Georgie Elgin
Amy Morton August: Osage County Barbara Weston Fordham
Fiona Shaw Happy Days Winnie N/A
Julie White From Up Here Grace
Janet McTeer Mary Stuart Mary Stuart
Saidah Arrika Ekulona Ruined Mama Nadi N/A
Jane Fonda 33 Variations Katherine Brandt
Marcia Gay Harden God of Carnage Veronica
Elizabeth Marvel Fifty Words Jan N/A
Jan Maxwell Scenes from an Execution Galactia


Year Actress Play Character Tony
Jan Maxwell The Royal Family Julie Cavendish
Ayesha Antoine My Wonderful Day Winnie Barnstairs N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
Linda Lavin The Lyons Rita Lyons
Jennifer Lim Chinglish Xi Yan N/A
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 N/A
Amy Morton Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Martha
Julia Murney Falling Tami N/A
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 N/A
Tyne Daly Mothers and Sons Katharine Gerard
Laurie Metcalf Domesticated Judy Pulver N/A
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 N/A
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 N/A
Jessica Lange Long Day's Journey into Night Mary Tyrone
Georgia Engel John Mertis N/A
Mamie Gummer Ugly Lies the Bone Jess
Marin Ireland Ironbound Darja
Nicola Walker A View from the Bridge Beatrice Carbone

See also[edit]


External links[edit]