Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cagney and Lacey in London?

Sort of….Tyne Daly, who played Detective Mary Beth Lacy and Sharon Gless who played Sergeant Christine Cagney in the television series Cagney and Lacy will both be appearing on stage in the West End in January, though different plays and different theatres.

Tyne Daly has an extensive background in theatre in the U.S. and won a Tony in 1990 for her role as Rose in Gypsy. In London, she will be playing Maria Callas in Master Class. Previews begin January 21 at the Vaudeville Theatre.

Closing a week earlier (January 14) at the Aldwych, is A Round Heeled Woman with Sharon Gless as Jane Juska, a woman in her 60s looking for love and seemingly doing nothing but living for her daily glass of wine. She decides to change her life by placing a personals ad in the New York Review of Books – that’s right, The New York Review of Books - stating in part: “I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like” She received 63 replies.

Juska wrote a memoir of the experience (A Round Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance) and Gless purchased the rights to the book ten years ago. Jane Prowse wrote the stage adaptation and has directed this production (as she did the original production in San Francisco in 2010 and a subsequent one in Florida).

Gless is quite good, though I thought the production itself a bit uneven in the first act (the second act was better), though there was nothing to dissuade me from recommending it.

I saw it at a rather sparsely attended matinee on New Year’s Eve, probably not the best time to perform a play like this. However the audience, which was uniformly post-50, warmed to Gless and the play. Many stood up at the curtain call.

Give Gless credit. She believed in the project and has pushed to see it done. Give her credit also for playing the role – it is undoubtedly an uncomfortable one for an actor to play in a house with a live audience, some of whom are less than 20 feet away when at the opening, Juska (Gless) is having phone sex and stroking herself between her thighs.

Of course it is not just titillating sex, this is the story of a woman coming to grips with many issues in her life: herself, her age, her father, her ex-husband, her son and her friends.

I am glad I saw it and would see it again. I am not sure what, if any, future there is for the production once it closes but it does deserve a future life.

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