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Drama Queens

Between writers' strike-induced abysmal TV offerings and post-holiday theater releases that would keep even the most dedicated cinephile homebound ("27...

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Sarah Paulson, "Secret Weapon"

Photo By Mark Davis/Getty Images

Between writers' strike-induced abysmal TV offerings and post-holiday theater releases that would keep even the most dedicated cinephile homebound ("27 Dresses," anyone?), cabin fever looks to prove particularly trying this winter. Luckily, a slew of talented actresses who work both stage and screen are set to heat up theaters across town. From regal pro Lynn Redgrave to fast-talking newcomer Mamie Gummer, these ladies are ready to put on a show. Herewith, a rundown of this season's women to watch.

SARAH PAULSON
Secret Weapon
Paulson is no household name, but the 33-year-old has kept her cinema-worthy cheekbones and pout busy in stage, screen and film since graduating from Manhattan's High School for Performing Arts. She had her Broadway debut in "The Sisters Rosensweig" and most recently graced New York's floorboards in 2005's revival of "The Glass Menagerie." No slouch on the tube, she has stayed in the green with supporting roles in HBO's "Deadwood" and as Matthew Perry's Bible-thumping ex in the now defunct "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." This month, look for her in the Roundabout's production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Crimes of the Heart," directed by Kathleen Turner. Paulson plays Meg McGrath, a failed actress-singer who gathers with her two equally lonely sisters at their grandfather's Southern estate.

"Crimes of the Heart" runs now to April 13 at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th Street.

MARY-LOUISE PARKER The Real Deal

Parker needs little introduction to theatergoers (or TV-watchers, thanks to her role as a pot-dealing suburban mom in the hit series "Weeds"). Ever since her first Broadway role in 1990's "Prelude to a Kiss," the porcelain-skinned actress has captured audiences with her unlikely mix of comedic timing and razor wit. She originated Catherine in "Proof" before Gwyneth Paltrow took a stab at it on screen, made Whoopi Goldberg fall head over heels in the film "Boys on the Side" and tempered her sarcasm as a Mormon wife for the HBO version of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America." It's been nearly four years, though, since Parker, 43, has tread the Great White Way (in 2004's "Reckless"). Next month marks her return in the Playwrights Horizons' production of Sarah Ruhl's "Dead Man's Cell Phone." As the title suggests, Parker's museum worker Jean answers a deceased man's mobile and soon finds herself entangled in his dizzying past life.
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"Dead Man's Cell Phone" begins previews Feb. 8 at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater, 416 West 42nd Street.

LILY RABE
Promising Ingenue
At 25, Rabe is already well on her way toward establishing herself as one of her generation's leading stage actresses. The daughter of David Rabe and Jill Clayburgh, she got her start opposite Mom in the Gloucester Stage Company's "Speaking Well of the Dead." And though she has racked up the odd film role here or there — a waitress in "No Reservations"; a bit part in "Mona Lisa Smile" — the Northwestern grad has kept her sights keenly focused on those velvet curtains. Rabe impressed Broadway audiences in 2005's "Steel Magnolias" and lent her preternatural poise to the Roundabout's "Heartbreak House" in 2006. She joins the company again for its production of "Crimes of the Heart," in which she stars alongside Paulson as the youngest of three sisters, Babe, who took care of her abusive husband with a shotgun.

"Crimes of the Heart" runs now to April 13 at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 West 46th Street.

MAMIE GUMMER

Genetically Gifted
With her uncanny resemblance to her mother, it's no surprise Gummer's most recent film role was as the younger version of Meryl Streep in last summer's "Evening." But the actress, 24, has been earning her own keep — and street cred — with a slew of off-Broadway parts that showcase her sharp wit. She made her stage debut in the Roundabout's "Mr. Marmalade," for which she won a 2006 Theatre World Award, and played Kate Burton's acid-tongued offspring in "The Water's Edge." This month, Gummer stars as Bess, one of four New Yorkers looking for love in the world premiere of Brooke Berman's satire, "Hunting and Gathering," at Primary Stages. And come this spring, she'll don period costume for a Broadway revival of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," opposite Laura Linney.

"Hunting and Gathering" runs now to March 1 at Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street.

LYNN REDGRAVE
Grande Dame
Lucky for America, the Redgrave thespian dynasty spends a lot of time on these shores. Lynn Redgrave — daughter of Michael, sister of Vanessa and Corin and aunt of Natasha and Joely Richardson — resides in Connecticut, but Broadway is her home away from home. The 64-year-old made her debut in 1967 and has racked up three Tony Awards (along with two Oscars, two Emmys and a Grammy) and was most recently nominated for her performance in 2005's "The Constant Wife." Redgrave also has brought her London productions to Manhattan: 1993's "Shakespeare for My Father" (which she also wrote) began in the British capital, as did her latest work, "Grace," which is in previews at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The actress stars as the play's namesake character, a famous scientist and atheist who is pushed to the brink when her lawyer son decides to become a Christian minister.
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"Grace" runs now to March 8 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street.
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