Most stage actors can only dream about the kind of year Regina Marie Williams had.
Her luminous voice and charismatic acting powered two big hits: “Sister Act,” Alan Menken’s disco-nun musical at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and “Nina Simone: Four Women,” Christina Ham’s new play about the singer and civil rights icon that premiered to sellout crowds at Park Square Theatre. Both will return for encore productions in 2017, as Williams assumes the habit of Sister Mary Clarence and inhabits Simone’s righteous dudgeon and bluesy poetry once again.
Williams showed her range and her knack for getting into the soul of her characters in other shows as well. She won plaudits for her poignant portrayal of a grieving mother in turn-of-the-century America in “Scapegoat,” another new play by Ham, at Pillsbury House Theatre. And she nailed the comic timing in “Barbecue,” Robert O’Hara’s acidic comedy about the power of poisonous stereotypes at Mixed Blood.
She closed out the year as big-hearted Mother in “A Christmas Carol,” the Guthrie’s long-running holiday tradition. Oh, she also found time to co-host the Ivey Awards, which brought the Twin Cities theater community together for an evening of festive fun.