The Theatre West revival of Spoon River Anthology, starring Lee Meriwether, will play an extra performance July 14 in benefit of the Actors' Fund. Directed by Betty Garrett and Joyce Van Patten, the musical based on Edgar Lee Master's most famous poems plays through Aug. 4.
Charles Aidman, co-founder of Theatre West, adapted Spoon River Anthology from Master's poetry which serves as the autobiographical epitaphs for the 244 residents of a rural Illinois town. Dialogue and monologue is interspersed with musical numbers by Emmy nominee Naomi Caryl, including "He's Gone Away," "I Am, I Am," "The Water Is Wide" and "Times Are Gettin' Hard."
At first a beauty queen (she served as a Miss San Francisco, Miss California and Miss America), Meriwether went on to a career in TV and theatre. Although she is remembered for her roles on "Barnaby Jones" and "Mission: Impossible," she has often appeared on stage including the first Theatre West Spoon River, Aesop in Central Park with Richard Dreyfuss, Ladies of Hanover Towers with Carroll O'Connor, Follies, A Little Night Music and The King and I with George Chakiris.
Also in the cast are Bridget Hanley ("Here Comes the Bride," "Harper Valley, P.T.A."), Drew Katzman, Jane George, Abbott Alexander and Andy Taylor.
A veteran of 1940's and '50's musical movies, director Garrett most recently performed on Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre's starry Follies. Director Van Patten, sister of TV's Dick Van Patten, is a stage vet whose credits include creating roles in new work by Neil Simon, A.R. Gurney, Jon Robin Baitz and Elaine May. Tickets are $25 for the benefit performance. For reservations, call the Actors' Fund at (323) 933-9266, ext. 54. Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Boulevard. Theatre West is on the web at http://www.theatrewest.org.
— By Christine Ehren