Best Actor

Missy Koonce, Pride and Joy

So committed to the gag that his drama often chokes, playwright Paul Rudnick works best in sharp, nervy bursts. What a surprise, then, that the most tender moments were the highlights of this spring's Pride and Joy, a trio of Rudnick one-acts directed by the tireless Jeff Church to raise money for AIDS Walk. In one of those one-acts, Koonce killed as a Long Island mother who dished on how her son became a woman and then — here's the gag — a lesbian. Her wicked smile and pacing whetted one-liners that were already sharp, and the crowd's long jags of laughter swelled a one-act monologue into something epic. But she also reached out, and she understood, presenting that mother's uncertainty about once-shocking sexual mores with as much heart as satire. Koonce, Church and Rudnick struck the most hopeful notes in a show coursing with positivity, urging that even homophobic Americans might yet come around.

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