2019 Helen Hayes Award Winner: Outstanding Actress in a Musical
"Signature's production celebrates the complexities of love with a production filled with a career-defining performance by leading lady Natascia Diaz and the type of mature, sleek, and sexy direction rarely seen in Washington. Diaz is no stranger to DC theatergoers. This reviewer first saw her a decade ago as the titular character in Signature's Kiss of the Spider Woman and never forgot that performance. With Fosca, Diaz is giving the type of career defining performance that cannot be missed. With a portrayal that is well-nuanced, beautifully sung, and quite direct, Diaz's Fosca captivates and challenges the audience. Just when we've reached our frustration with her character's actions, she finds a way to pull us back, challenge our assumptions..."
"Diaz's obsessively watchable and gorgeously sung Fosca... a Signature regular, (she) has in Fosca the choicest opportunity she’s ever gotten to show off her talents. She’s an actress of effortless intensity: that serves the requirements of Fosca well. A profound belief must be conveyed in a character who seems to have both an iron will and a bottomless capacity for humiliation. It is a performance of such admirable conviction that this actress wills herself to be of diminished allure. And her delivery of Fosca’s dreamy anthem, “Loving You,” lifts the evening into the clouds."
"Ms. Diaz simply shines in this production, summoning a delicate Fosca of great emotional intensity and measured madness. Thin and slight, dressed in all black with a pallid, dour, and pitiful tear-stained visage, she inspires great pathos and a bevy of squirms across the audience, especially in her most cringe-inducing moments of embarrassing desperation for Giorgio’s affection. Ms. Diaz’s Fosca is no crazed ghoul—the easy approach—but rather a fragile, sick woman who bucks conventional gender expectations of her time while drawing on a perversely deep well of dignity, strength, and perspicuity. She imbues each of Fosca’s songs with a devastating ache, borne of unrelenting melancholy and seclusion, but avoids the cloying stridency that might otherwise alienate an audience, offering up a fresh take on an iconic role unforgettably created in a Tony-winning performance by Donna Murphy."
"Actress Natascia Diaz’s bold performance breathes transformative life into Fosca—one of musical theater’s most remarkable creations—in Signature Theatre’s resplendent revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Passion. Sondheim’s bizarre love triangle set in 19th-century Italy has puzzled and polarized audiences since its 1994 Broadway debut because of its difficult-to-accept plot, epistolary form and chamber opera nature. Above all, it’s the character of Fosca that has the potential to put people off. Her piercing screams, erratic trajectory, relentless misery, and single-minded bent to consume what she desires can make her seem a monster. But not so in the loving care of Diaz, under the direction of Matthew Gardiner. Diaz’s deeply felt, sympathetic performance lulls the audience as much as she does Giorgio (Claybourne Elder). A Signature favorite playing against type, Diaz dominates Passion with a mesmerizing performance. Her achievement has been to interpret Fosca’s obsessive derangement into a heartbreaking pieta that compels compassion. Made up like a cadaver, costumed in funereal dress, she exudes wretchedness. Fosca’s declarations of love could be repulsive in another’s delivery, but Diaz highlights her kindness and agony with a disarming and urgent forthrightness. This Passion, with its brilliantly effective staging, superb vocal performances and Diaz’s tremendous portrayal, reaches in, assuages any misgivings, and connects with viewers while leaving the mysteries of love—or passion, in its various forms—intact."
"...it's Diaz's Fosca that carries the true weight of the production. While Fosca is derided by most of the other male characters as ugly and unappealing, Diaz as Fosca is so captivating that it's impossible to look away from her whenever she's onstage. Diaz plays the sickly Fosca with such a weakness of body and a force of spirit that it's a revelation to watch. The control she has within her body and voice is masterful. She brings out Fosca's dry sense of humor to breathe brief moments of relief into her demanding performance."