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Best Actress Orange County 2008 - Linda Gehringer

She earned this laurel last year for her body of work over the past 10 years. But this year, Gehringer added to her already-sparkling résumé with her multilayered turn in South Coast Repertory's Doubt as an über-controlling nun in John Patrick Shanley's riveting play about secrets and lies at a Catholic school in 1964. Even more impressive is that, physically, Gehringer's slender frame and classic beauty didn't fit the image of a taciturn, ultra-conservative nun who would seem more comfortable wielding a ruler than quoting from First Corinthians. Although she nailed the rigid, black-and-white aspects of her character's personality, what made her performance resonate were the unexpected subtleties she found in the role, such as grace, dignity and a powerful (if disturbing) passion to find some sense of order in a seemingly chaotic universe.

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