“I think one-person shows can be very dicey,” says Judith Light, which may come as a surprise, considering the two-time Tony winner has just returned to the New York stage in Neil LaBute’s new one-woman show, All The Ways to Say I Love You. So what convinced her to step into the role?
In the solo play, which began performances September 6 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Light plays a high school teacher looking back at pivotal moments in her life. It’s billed as a story about love, hard choices and the cost of fulfilling an all-consuming desire. The world premiere will officially open September 28, directed by Tony nominee Leigh Silverman.
“[This play] is a story about what it means to have lied in your life and how to live with that—how to live with the deceit,” explains Light. “We all know what it’s like to tell little lies…and how our minds never let us let go of that. ... It’s very human.” The actress isn’t able to reveal much more about the play or her character. “It’s quite mysterious. I don’t mean to sound ambiguous," she says.
Light says she immediately loved the script. “I thought it was wonderful,” she says. “I know Neil—we had worked together when he directed me for TV—he just sent it to me and said, ‘Tell me what you think of this.’”
“I told him I thought it was amazing, but I didn’t think he was offering it to me,” she continues. “I just thought he wanted my opinion. … I think he’s an incredibly smart, brilliant writer, and I loved working with him.”
When MCC’s artistic directors called her a couple of months later to offer her the role, she was initially unsure about taking on a solo play. “It needs a great concept and a great director,” she told them. Then Silverman came on board to direct and it was the final push Light needed. She had wanted to work with the acclaimed director for several years, and knew the show would be in good hands.
But it didn’t stop the star from feeling nervous. “Are you kidding?” she asks. “It’s 25 pages of a single-spaced monologue. I said to Neil, ‘I don’t know that I can do this.’”
“But sometimes you have to throw your cap over the wall,” she continues. “There’s a story about John. F. Kennedy and his mother saying to him, ‘Don’t come home without your cap.’ He wanted to get over the other side of the wall, and he knew that if he threw his cap, he’d have to climb over.”
In between filming for the hit Amazon series Transparent—for which she garnered a Golden Globe nomination—and other film and TV projects, Light says she is continues to feel compelled to return to the stage. “I love the connection of a live audience,” she explains. “I love the ability to do something over and over again, which gives me a chance to really go in-depth…. I love the fact that it’s in the now, and it will never be this way ever again.”
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