Back in November 1996, Drama Desk and Obie Award-winning actress Ruby Dee came to downtown Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) with a solo adaptation of her 1987 published anthology, "My One Good Nerve." The show, a mix of anecdotes, poetry and short stories, now arrives at NYC's Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse, with an expanded title: "My One Good Nerve: A Visit With Ruby Dee." The show opens Feb. 5 and runs to March 8.
Charles Nelson Reilly, who recently staged The Gin Game with Charles Durning and Julie Harris on Broadway, directs Nerve.
According to ACT spokesperson Noreen O'Brien, Dee's segments include a woman reflecting on the death of her mother, and a whimsical "Ruby Goose" sequence, wherein Dee inverts nursery rhymes to give them a relevant comic edge. "As she got older, Ruby Dee used to feel uncomfortable about being pegged as an elder spokesman. But now she wants to convey her experiences and insights. She also wants to show off her humor, which a lot of people who consider her a `serious actress' don't expect.
Dee was the original Ruth in A Raisin in the Sun, Lutiebelle in husband Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious, Lena in Fugard's Boesman And Lena, and Mary Tyrone in an Ace Award-winning television production of Long Day's Journey Into Night. Augmenting her numerous film and televison credits, Dee has also written children's books, one of which received the 1989 Literary Guild Award.
On stage, Dee wrote and performed Zora Is My Name and the musical, Take It From The Top, as well as the revue Two Hah Hahs And A Homeboy, which starred her hubby and their son, Guy. ACT artistic director Peggy Shannon directs One Good Nerve. Former associate producing director of L.A. Theatre Works, Shannon worked at Seattle Rep, San Jose Rep, the Matrix Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She met Ruby Dee through a mutual friend, and discussions of a project for ACT led to Nerve.
For tickets ($15.50-$29) and information on My One Good Nerve, which begins previews Nov. 8, call (206) 292-7676.
-- By David Lefkowitz