Published: September 21, 2011
To appreciate why Bruce Nelson is the best actor in Maryland right now, it’s helpful to compare his performance in David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries at Rep Stage in 2007 with Robert Dorfman’s performance in the same role at Center Stage in 2009. When Nelson poked rubber-limbed fun at the Santa Claus operation at a Macy’s department store, every zinger struck home, for one could always see the little kid inside the character who was still in love with Christmas and was offended by what Macy’s was doing to it. By contrast, Dorfman was all smugness and no innocence, inordinately pleased with his own cleverness and little interested in Christmas itself. Of course, Center Stage will always prefer someone like Dorfman, because he’s a “New York actor,” while Nelson is merely a “Baltimore actor.” But Maryland audiences prefer Nelson, who has delivered terrific turns in The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? at Rep Stage and All My Sons and I Am My Own Wife at Everyman Theatre. As well they should.