Surely Julie Harris has been the Belle of the regions recently. The five-time Tony Award winner has returned to The Belle of Amherst and is taking the one-woman bioplay around the U.S., with Los Angeles her next stop. There she opens the 2100 Square Feet Solo Festival, Feb. 23.
A theatrical legend, Harris made her Broadway debut in 1945 but first came to viewers’ attention as Frankie Addams in The Member of the Wedding in 1950. Tony Awards followed for Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera, The Lark, Forty Carats and The Last of Mrs. Lincoln. After film roles in "I Am a Camera," "Member of the Wedding" and "East of Eden," Harris went on to a seven-year stint on "Knot's Landing."
William Luce penned this recounting of the life of 19th century recluse poet Dickinson. Luce may be America's best-known writer of biographical dramas. His have included Barrymore, Lillian, Lucifer's Child, The Last Flapper, Bravo, Caruso!, Chanel and Nijinsky.
Original director of the Broadway production, Charles Nelson Reilly, again directs. Once known solely as a comic performer, Reilly started out in musicals, earning a Tony Award for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and a Tony nomination for Hello, Dolly!. Since, he has moved to television ("The X-Files" among many others) and to directing, bringing The Belle of Amherst, Paul Robeson with James Earl Jones, Break a Leg and The Nerd to the Broadway stage.
Harris is just the latest in the Belle of Amhersters to headline the Solo Festival. Reilly did it in 1999 with his own autobiographical show, Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly and Luce opened the first Festival in 1998. (Lily Tomlin gave a snippet of The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe in 2000). Tickets to the Julie Harris gala opening are $25. 2100 Square Feet is located at San Vicente Boulevard. For reservations, call (323) 936-6818. The Solo Festival runs from Feb. 23-March 18. 2100 Square Feet is on the web at http://www.2100squarefeet.com.
The Solo festival continues through March 18. Among the performers are Emmy nominee Chambers Stevens, Randy St. Martin, Michelle Krusiec, Karen Goodman, Lucia Marano, Robin Brenner and Marcia Jones.
Stevens ("Geo Scout," "Funnybone") does David Schein's Out Comes Butch, a piece whose premise is that sometimes in order to really be a man, a man needs to be a woman (March 2, 9 and 16). St. Martin brings his Color Me Black, a representation of African-American life in America today, back to L.A for the Solo fest, where it will follow Butch.
Feb. 24, March 3, 10 and 17, Kruseic and Goodman are on the double bill. Kruseic ("Titus," "Popular") performs her the coming-of-age tale of a mother and daughter in Made in Taiwan, while NEA Choreography Fellow Goodman shows how dance affects everyone day-to-day in Close Dancing.
The final trio, Marano, Brenner and Jones, perform Feb. 25, March 4, 11 and 18. Marano ("100 Centre Street") brings to life Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti in Artists and Revolutionaries, while Brenner tackles the lighter side of art with Off the Wall: Picasso's "Dora Maar" Talks Back! Rodin's "The Kiss" Takes a Breather!. Jones actually is an artist, transforming music into paintings in front of the audience.
Tickets to each evening are $15 at the door. 2100 Square Feet is located at San Vicente Boulevard. 2100 Square Feet is on the web at http://www.2100squarefeet.com.
— By Christine Ehren