The intellectual world of esoteric literature professor Vivian Bearing is a far cry from that "Little House on the Prairie" — where most people remember Karen Grassle living the pioneer life as Ma. The women's rights activist and former Broadway player takes on the plum role of Bearing in the Arizona Theatre Company's production, opening Jan. 19 in Tucson. The show runs there at the Temple of Music and Art through Feb. 3 before transferring to the company's second venue at the Herberger Theater Center Feb. 8-25.
Grassle's theatre credits include Broadway's Butterflies Are Free, The Gingham Dog, Sweet Sue, Imogene in the Public Theatre's Cymbeline and several years with the Actors Theatre of Louisville. She is best known, however, for her TV stint as Caroline "Ma" Ingalls on the popular "Little House," which ran eight seasons.
Samantha K. Wyer directs. Joining Grassle in the cast are Robert Guajardo (Dr. Harvey Kelekian), Lizzy Davis (Nurse Susie Monahan), Jason Kuykendall (Dr. Jason Posner), Jean Burch (Professor E.M. Ashford), Jennifer Fisk Wilken, Ravi Gahunia and Tale Allen.
The 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit tells of a strict, but brillant college poetry professor brought low - to humility and humanity - by her bout with ovarian cancer. Edson, a kindergarten teacher in Atlanta, GA, made her playwriting debut with Wit.
The Wit design team features Peter Beudert (sets), Sam Fleming (costumes), Traci Odishaw (lighting) and Adam Wernick (sound). Elizabeth Lohr is the stage manager. Tickets in Tucscon are $35-$22. The Alice Holwsclaw Theatre in the Temple of Music and Art is located at 330 South Scott Street. For reservations, call (520) 622-2823.
— By Christine Ehren