"In the audience, you would hear laughs, of course, but you would also hear gasps, and people weeping and people moan and stop breathing, then you would hear them relax and breathe again," she explained. "I never realized there were so many audible signs from an audience other than laughter."
The actress, known to many for her television turn as Miranda on the New York-set HBO series "Sex and the City," grew up on the New York boards. Her double duty on Broadway's Hurlyburly and The Real Thing (appearing simultaneously in both shows) is legendary theatrical trivia. She earned her first Tony Award nomination for Indiscretions.
She now is up for an award in the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play category opposite The Constant Wife stars Kate Burton and Lynn Redgrave, Souvenir's Judy Kaye and Well's Lisa Kron. (All four dramas are no longer running on Broadway.) Her co-star Tyne Daly is also nominated in the Featured Actress category.
"I loved it immediately and it was so simple and spare on the page," Nixon explained of her role as a mother who recently endured the loss of a child. "I think one of the most difficult things was trying to find the right balance between it seeming like I had really lost a child and my life really had been destroyed, and being a person who was striving so hard to go on with her life and not be broken by it." The crux, according to Nixon, was "to give it the proper weight, without giving it too much weight—constantly trying to adjust that recipe."
The end of the show proved easier than the onset. "I feel like my character Becca came to some kind of peace at the end of the play, so I feel like you didn't need to," unwind from her character's melancholy, she said. "The play did it for you, it released you every night." "In terms of preparing for it, in rehearsal we had read a lot of books written by people who had lost children. And then at a certain point, I just thought, you know, I don't need to keep stepping on that gas. I'll put it inside me and I'll just go and visit it when the time is right, but I don't need to go into overdrive on it."
Other credits for the stage stalwart — who will next appear Off-Broadway in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie — include Broadway's The Women, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Angels in America, The Heidi Chronicles and The Philadelphia Story.