WINNER: Robert Sean Leonard, The Invention of Love
Since becoming a film star in "Dead Poets Society," Leonard has, paradoxically, never flagged in his devotion to the New York stage, starring in Broadway mountings of The Iceman Cometh, The Speed of Darkness, Candida, You Never Can Tell, and Philadelphia, Here I Come!. The latter three were at the Roundabout Theatre Company, with Candida getting him a Tony nom for best featured actor in a play. One of his best known performances was in another Stoppard piece, Arcadia, also produced by Lincoln Center Theater.
Charles Brown, King Hedley II
This is Brown's second turn in a Broadway August Wilson production, after Fences. His most enduring professional association, however, is with the Negro Ensemble Company, where he appeared in many plays, including A Soldier's Play, Nevis Mountain Dew and Home. The last won him a best actor in a play Tony nom back in 1980.
Larry Bryggman, Proof
Bryggman has been paying Broadway dues for years, appearing in such shows as Prelude to a Kiss (with Proof co-star Mary-Louise Parker), Richard III, The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, Ulysses in Nighttown and The Lincoln Mask; his turn in Picnic got him a Tony nomination in 1994. His Off-Broadway work—much of it at Manhattan Theatre Club, where Proof began—has been even more extensive.
Michael Hayden, Judgment at Nuremberg
Hayden has been a steady presence on and Off-Broadway and on major regional stages since making headlines with his performance as Billy Bigelow in the Nicholas Hytner revival of Carousel. His portrayal of Oscar Rolfe in the short-lived Judgment was his most highly praised work since the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Ben Shenkman, Proof
Shenkman is the new guy on the block in this category, with Proof being his first major Broadway credit. He has worked much Off-Broadway, however, in such productions as Peter Hedges' Baby Anger (Playwrights Horizons); Vanessa Redgrave's production of Antony and Cleopatra (Public Theater); and Venus (Public Theater).
—By Robert Simonson