Polly Bergen, Follies
It's testament to Bergen's talent that she's mentioned in this category at all—she only sings one song. But "I'm Still Here" blew away even the toughest critics of the Roundabout revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies. Bergen's signature tune back on "The Polly Bergen Show" was "The Party's Over," originally from 2001's Tony-nominated musical revival Bells Are Ringing. Now a frequent cabaret performer, she won an Emmy for "The Helen Morgan Story" and two Emmy nominations for "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance."
Kathleen Freeman, The Full Monty
It's never too late to make your first Broadway splash. Freeman's the proof with her raunchy rehearsal pianist Jeanette, who helps the boys of The Full Monty hone their strip act. A show biz veteran, just like her character—and also a one number charmer, with her "Jeanette's Showbiz Number"— Freeman has directed, composed and performed for the Circle and Players Ring Theatres in Los Angeles and has appeared in over 100 films including classic slapstick comedies with Jerry Lewis, "Singin' in the Rain," "The Fly," "The Nutty Professor II" and both "Blues Brothers" movies.
Cady Huffman, The Producers
If you've got it, flaunt it—that's Huffman's motto as Ulla in The Producers and so she does in the beefed-up role of Bialystock and Bloom's sexy Swedish secretary. She was last nominated for Tony for another sexy stage part, that of Will Rogers' Favorite in The Will Rogers Follies. This is just one more hot dance turn for Huffman, whose credits include La Cage aux Folles, Big Deal, Steel Pier, Dame Edna: The Royal Tour and the title role in Blake Edwards' farcical play with music, Big Rosemary.
Kate Levering, 42nd Street
Ye Gods! Talk about a hoofer going out there a youngster and coming back a star! From the small featured dance role of Zaneeta Shinn in The Music Man, Levering arrives at her first Tony nomination for her wonder tapping as Peggy Sawyer, the kid 42nd Street makes a Broadway name. Previously, she already danced her way across New York stages in Annie Get Your Gun, The Life, A Christmas Carol and Exactly Like You. In the fall, she will leave 42nd Street for the much more dour Thou Shalt Not, where she will play Therese Raquin in the Harry Connick, Jr.-Susan Stroman musical based on Emile Zola's novel.
Mary Testa, 42nd Street
She's Broadway's wacky, loud-mouthed broad. A Tony nominee and Obie winner as Madame Dilly in On the Town, Testa has endowed many a memorable comic character with a huge pair of lungs: Hero's domineering momma Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; a homeless woman searching for change in A New Brain; even the dark and quiet Marie Christine got a Testa-orizing with her turn as bawdy Chicago saloon proprietress Magdalena. Analysis: This category may be closer than it appears. While The Producers buzz is incredibly strong, it's not necessarily Huffman's year. Broadway always gets a little nostalgic around Tony time and may smile on this chance to honor Bergen or even Freeman for their lifetime careers.
— By Christine Ehren