Onstage: 2012 Oscars Nominees in Theater

Joan Marcus/Courtesy

With all the Oscars hype (after all, they are coming up this Sunday), I thought I might jump on the bandwagon from a theater-goer’s perspective. So this post is dedicated to some of the 2012 lead and supporting actor nominees that have done memorable work on the stage as well. There’s a surprising number of them — which is hardly surprising as Broadway ticket sales now rely on a celebrity in the cast more than ever. Just look at how Daniel Radcliffe in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” has been succeeded by Darren Criss of “Glee,” and now Nick Jonas of, well, the Jonas Brothers. But I digress.

Viola Davis is nominated for lead actress in “The Help,” but she’s always been known for powerhouse, tear-jerker performances, (see the film “Doubt” for her ability to induce tears in less than 10 minutes). Although Davis has yet to win an Oscar, she already has two Tony Awards under her belt. Both were performances in plays written by August Wilson, one of the most influential African American playwrights. The first was “King Hedley II” in 2001 and the second was for “Fences” co-starring Denzel Washington in 2010, the now-classic play about an African American family that’s entered many a high school English curriculum.

Essentially, Viola Davis is already a boss, but it’s taking the film world a while to realize it. And when she finally gets her shot at an Oscar-hopeful leading role, it’s for “The Help,” a rather troubled film that tries to balance good intentions for civil rights with a saccharine, nostalgic (frankly, implicitly racist) view of the ’60s South. But go figure, Hollywood, eh?

Next up is Glenn Close, who’s nominated for the gender-bending “Albert Nobbs.” Close has long been associated with numerous theater productions. One look at her Wiki record and you’ll find a long list of work in both theater and film that’s pretty mind-boggling. She’s a triple-winner of the Tony award for Best Actress. A huge highlight is her work as the tragically grotesque Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard,” the classic, larger-than-life theater adaptation of the 1950 film on the abandoned and forgotten silent film era.