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Best Actor 

James Carpenter

Besides creating fully believable and affecting characters, which in itself is no mean feat, James Carpenter can make you look at plays and speeches you might have seen a dozen times anew as if it were the first time. It's been a gift for East Bay audiences to see him play both young Hal and old Henry in Cal Shakes' Henry IV productions two decades apart. This spring saw him as dim-witted Donny in Berkeley Rep's The Lieutenant of Inishmore, trying to paint a cat so that his psychotic son doesn't find out his pet is dead, and last year he gave terrific turns as the ailing professor in Cal Shakes' Uncle Vanya, scheming Ricardetto in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, and crotchety Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at ACT. His single scene as the dying king in Cal Shakes' 2007 Richard III was easily the best thing in that production, and his portrayal of Capulet's grief over his daughter's death lent tremendous depth to last month's Romeo and Juliet on that same stage. Sure, the play's the thing, but to make the play all about one minor character's tragedy for one fleeting moment is a real art.

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