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Posts tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Newcomer Andrew Burnap’s Astonishing Debut in “Troilus & Cressida”

Troilus and Cressida 1Andrew Burnap 1“Troilus and Cressida” is considered one of  Shakespeare’s Problem Plays. It’s hardly ever done. It’s wildly uneven, and it’s always nigh to impossible to tell the Greeks from the Trojans. It’s clear that there’s a war on, but who’s who and which is which is always mightily confusing.

Director Dan Sullivan has perhaps rectified all that with his testosterone fueled-production in Central Park this summer. He’s cast one of the strongest male casts I’ve ever seen containing some of the best young Shakespearean actors around today. Main among them is newcomer Andrew Burnap in the usually forgettable title role. But Burnap burns up the stage as he holds his own against as formidable a male cast as I’ve ever seen in Shakespeare in the Park, New York’s annual, pastoral summer ritual. Founded by the late Joe Papp to be free to all New Yorkers, the Park never disappoints, though most times the productions certainly do. But not this time.Shakespeara in the Park 1

I’m happy to say that “Troilus and Cressida” is one of the best Shakespeare’s I’ve ever seen in the Park.

But back to Andrew Burnap. A recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama, he’s stepped right out of school and right into stardom, following in the footsteps of former Yale-ees Meryl Streep and Lupita Nyong’o who just soared immediately upon graduation. His beautiful, brave, heart-broken, angry, and eventually murderous Troilus is everything a dream role for a young actor should be. And blond, blue-eyed, dashing Burnap is living the dream. In a part, I’ve never really even noticed before, he makes it seem a greater role than it’s ever been.

Troilus and Cressida are sort of Romeo and Juliet gone wrong.  The Trojan War  breaks them apart early and nearly kills them.

I saw Helen Mirren as a young girl, maybe even a teenager, make her debut at the Royal Shakespeare Company back in the ’60s as Cressida.Helen Mirren Young Her debut, her first scene, she got rolled out of a Persian carpet completely nude. And thus began her great career. She was utterly heart-breaking in the scene where she emerges ravaged from the rival army’s camp where she has been raped repeatedly. She was shattered, bruised, barely able to speak, unforgettable. The actress here, Ismenia Mendes, just can’t cut it. You barely can tell she’s been gang-raped, and you don’t care much either.

But you do care about Andrew Burnap/Troilus’s reaction to his love being so defiled. He goes madly to war against his enemies, main among them the superb young Shakespearean actor Zach Appelman, as Diomedes, another part no one ever remembers. Appelman, you may remember, was the diamond brilliant Hamlet in Hartford, just this past winter for Darko Tresnjak.

Troilus and Cressida 3In the first act, Diomedes has very little to do, except to flex his muscles and show his six-pack lifting barbells and strutting shirtless (as do many others of this studly, sweating, stunning cast) in the 100 degree heat New York is now experiencing. But in Act 2, he gets to come into his own, as he battles Burnap. Appelman is a Yale graduate, too, btw.  As pictured above and below, you can see how intense their final confrontation is.Troilus and Cressida 4

I also must mention the tremendously strong ensemble feel that this T & C production had and I wasn’t surprised when I checked my program later that there were 10 (!) count’em TEN graduates of the equally superb NYU Grad Acting program! Which boasts its’ own  terrific, classically trained actors, main among them Corey Stoll. Stoll was so memorable as Ernest Heminngway in Woody Allen’s ” Midnight in Paris.” Here the completely bald Stoll is oiliness personified as the only man in a suit in this play, the slippery, Ulysseus, whom Stoll plays as   a corrupt ad exec, who arranges Cressida’s gang rape and many other nefarious things.Corey Stoll 1

I also had the privilege of seeing Understudy Keilyn Durrell Jones go on as the muscle-bound Achilles. He was just so loopily love-struck by his male amour Patroclus (Tom Pecinka), he licks his face like a huge puppy dog.Keilyn The Millionaire Jones

Yes, this is also the gay-est play Shakespeare ever wrote and director Sullivan does not hesitate to show the mighty Achilles, gathering his beloved up in his hugely muscled arms and whisking the giggling Patroclus off to their love-tent.

A male cast this awesome, and striking, who speak the Bard’s lines as magnificently as they make love AND war, makes one re-consider “Troilus and Cressida” as a much better play than it ever seemed before.

#Troilus and Cressida # Shakespeare # Trojan War #Andrew Burnap #Zach Appelman #Shakespeare in the Park #Corey Stoll #Achilles #Helen Mirren # Royal Shakespeare Company #Helen Mirren nude #Ulysses #Dan Sullivan # Problem Play # Central Park #Hamlet # Hartford Stage Company # Darko Tresnjak # Keilyn The Billionaire Jones#Achilles

 

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“Tempest” in DC Delights, Ariel Soars & Dave Quay Clowns Up a Storm

Tempest 1Taking Amtrak down to Washington DC from New York(and back) is really a delightful way to spend a holiday day away from Mad Manhattan. Even though I was on the Northeast Regional NOT the super-fast Acela, the trip seemed to fly and it was a canny, apt prediction of the delightful flights of fancy Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” I was to witness when I got there.

At Washington’s Harmon Theater, right in the heart of their Chinatown, the Shakespeare Theater Company is now presenting a very creditable, and sometimes absolutely delightful production of Shakespeare’s late comedy “The Tempest.” Often thought of as Shakespeare’s retirement play, it revolves, of course, around the famous character of Prospero, an aging magician and former and now deposed Duke of Milan, who has been exiled to this tropical, semi -Caribbean isle, where he has taught himself all of the black arts of mystery and enchantment and magic.

Talented young director Ethan McSweeney does bring the magic to his production of “The Tempest,” especially in Act Two when he has interpolated the role of “The Voice” for the beautiful, talented Broadway vet Nancy Anderson to sing as larger than life (and almost this stage) iridescent puppets of the goddesses of Juno, Ceres, etc. who seem to dwarf and devour the island. Designed and coached by James Ortiz, this triumvirate parade of monumental myths is proceeded in Act II by Sofia Jean Gomez’ Ariel descending from the heights all in black as an ominous Lady Gaga/Spiderwoman figure with huge black, drapery wings.

In fact, this is the only production of “The Tempest” I have ever seen where Ariel, Prospero’s imprisoned sprite, dominates the story. As performed by Ms. Gomez, this Ariel is CONSTANTLY in flight, literally and figuratively, under the astounding flight direction of Stu Cox, and the flying effects of ZFX, Inc. Sometimes butch as can be, sometimes as light as air, Ms. Gomez’ memorable fairy nymph flies into our hearts and memories.

Part punk-rocker, part gymnast, and part Tinkerbell and all girl, Gomez has an especially strong moment at the end, when her master Prospero frees her and the golden rope she has been suspended from falls to the ground with a thud, as her white, silk robe transforms from something athletic and imprisoning into something feminine, stately and beautiful, and she turns on her former master and doesn’t even look back or say good-bye. Not even a glance backward, she is no one’s slave now. And brava to Ms. Gomez, I say.

In fact, it is the supporting players  and the dazzling Special Effects and Jenny Giering’s ethereal just-right music, that seize this “Tempest” and makes it as magical as magic can be.

Main among the delights is the great young actor Dave Quay’s hilarious turn as the drunken butler Stephano, a role I have never remembered from any previous “Tempest.” In fact, the play barely has a pulse until he arrives stumbling and bumbling and bellowing to great comic effect to wake up the audience towards the end of Act One.

Quay doesn’t miss a beat or a laugh, and he put me in mind of the great Oliver Hardy of the early screen duo of Laurel and Hardy, though he is not stout in the least. He was comically paired with Liam Craig as Trinculo, the also ship-wrecked and also drunk Jester, who was bedecked in jingle-bells so you always knew when they were coming, or leaving, or moving, or anything.(Costumes designed by Jennifer Moeller). It had a very Christmas-y effect.

Less unfortunate is the casting of the central figure of Prospero, the Welsh actor and Stratford Festival regular Geraint Wyn Davies, who was simply too young and too robust for the part of the aging, about-to-retire wizard. I had seen and admired greatly Davies’ performance as the bastard in “King Lear” supporting Christopher Plummer’s great Lear at Lincoln Center a few seasons back.

And this Tempest put me in mind of the problems always associated with casting King Lear, the other great End-of-Life character in Shakespeare. If you have someone who is the right age for Lear, he invariably may be too old or too frail to do it.

There needs to be at least SOME of that frailty in Prospero. In Wyn Davies’, extremely healthy, hearty and hale performance, there was no hint of “The End.” And there should’ve been.

But around him is this great frame of a set by Lee Savage, a great ship-wreck scene that starts the play with a vertiable tempest at sea, and the best use I have ever seen of a chorus of spirits, and I’m going to mention them all! Ross Destiche, Freddie Bennett, Asia Kate Dillon, Ben Henderson, Dan Jones, Matthew Pauli, Stephanie Schmalzle, Kendren Spencer, Jessica Thorne, and Katherine Renee Turner, under the  spirited direction of choreographer Matthew Gardiner. These are the noble, able-bodied and adept souls animating those gigantic puppets under the direction of Puppetry Captain Dan Jones.

 

Darko Tresnjak’s Excellent, Whip-Smart “Hamlet” in Hartford

Hamlet 2

I can’t stop raving about Darko Tresnjak’s rip-roaring, whip-smart production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” now at the Hartford Stage. Following up on his Tony-award-winning Broadway triumph for Best Musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”, where he himself won a Tony for Best Director, and Clint Eastwood announcing his win just said in that distinctive, rumbling voice of his “Darko”, Tresnjak immediately became iconic.

He is also the artistic director of the Hartford Stage Company, a venerable regional theater that he has notably injected new life into, coupled with the renewal of downtown Hartford, it is definitely a trip worth the making. But you’ve got to do it quick because this most excellent “Hamlet” is only running til this coming Sunday, Nov.16.

It’s selling out and you can see why. I wish New Yorkers could see just how vital and vivid this “Hamlet” is.

Tresnjak has decided to do this Shakespeare straight, no-frills in an accurately Elizabethan production, eye-poppingly costumed by Fabio Toblini with a stunningly simple but provocative set by Darko Tresnjak himself!

The Hartford’s thrust stage is in the form of an illuminated cross, strikingly and eerily lit from below by lighting designer Matthew Richards. The actors are literally walking on footlights.

One of the great banes of regional theater has always been its’ inability to attract the best of the best actors available to appear out-of-town, but this is not the case at all with this stunning “Hamlet.” It could be on Broadway. Or certainly in Central Park. Everyone everywhere deserves to see this excellent “Hamlet.” The citizens of Hartford are very lucky indeed.

Of course, “Hamlet” is only as a great as the Hamlet himself and Zach Appelman, whose career I have been following since the Yale School of Drama, is its’ unforgettable hero.

Still in his 20s’, he’s the youngest Hamlet I’ve ever seen, but that works like gang-busters, because the gloomy Dane’s rash and violent impetuosity is much more suited to a brash, hot-headed youth.

Appelman enters and holds the stage, as only someone with buckets of charisma could, with his hands clasped, as if in prayer. Whilst the gaudy, bawdy court around him is celebrating, he is lost in grief.

Appelman has a lazer-like focus on the text and speaks it beautifully, making the role absolutely his. His has a tremendous, elastic athleticism, making his climatic sword and dagger fight with Laertes ( the wonderful Anthony Roach) something remarkable and frightening at the same time. How many actors can wield a sword and Shakespeare’s verse with equal, spine-tingling skill? He nearly chokes his mother (Kate Forbes) to death in the famous closet scene as he also kills Polonius(a super Edward James Hyland).

Appelman also gets laughs out of Hamlet. Spunky and jaunty as well as clinically depressed by his uncle’s murder of his father, he is particularly witty as his takes the piss out of old Polonius. Veteran Edward James Hyland is also one of the best, funniest old court geezers I have ever seen, too.

Appelman switches from the sublime to the ridiculous with the ease of an Olivier. Have we ever seen a FUNNY Hamlet? The superb Appelman is not playing it for laughs, but finding the sly humor in the young, melancholy prince. You see that MAYBE he might have had a chance at happiness had all these tragic events not happened to him. And every laugh that Appelman and Hyland get are earned laughter springing from their apt characterizations.

Tresnjak really his knows his Shakespeare and it’s a joy to behold that he has a cast that is up to his challenges. Brittany Vicars is an appropriately ethereal, fragile Ophelia and Floyd King and Curtis Billings are a riot as the comical grave-diggers. In fact, Tresnjak has left in parts of their scene that are usually cut, which I was delighted to hear for the first time anywhere. Usually there is just ONE grave-digger, but in this longer scene, we actually hear their comical discussion of Ophelia’s suicide. If there was ever any question of what the river did to her and what she did to the river, the grave-diggers settle it once and for all.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Tresnjak’s use of five students from the nearby Hartford-based colleges.Who knew that Harford was so culturally rich? I have to mention Conor M. Hammill, who excels as not only Francisco and Voltemand, but also a memorable Fortinbras,the Polish prince who ends the play. Who ever remembers Fortinbras? Well, you will this time. And Adam Montgomery is also very, very good as the flighty courtier Osric and a terrific player Queen. They both are currently still in school and what an education they are getting working with and holding their own against some of the best actors currently on this planet.

I can’t recommend this production of “Hamlet” highly enough! The trip is worth the trip.

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Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!!!

Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!!!

I’ve never felt like I’ve ever REALLY seen Shakespeare’s Cleopatra performed right, that is until tonight when the young and beautiful actress Tiffany Baker just blew the roof off of the tiny Main Stage of the Workshop Theater on 312 West 36th Street.

I’m mentioning the name and address of the theater. It’s between 8th & 9th Avenue on the 4th floor. It’s a little tricky to find, but I found it. And I’m mentioning all this info first because, unfortunately, you are going to just have to drop all your plans for this weekend and RUN to see it quick, because there are only three performances left. Sat at 2pm and 7:30 and again on Sunday at 2pm.

Tickets are at http://www.guerillashakespeare.org And the name of the play is “And to the Republic”

Time is running out to miss the birth of a star, and that star is Tiffany Baker. And Tiffany Baker IS Cleopatra!

I can’t say enough wonderful things about Tiffany Baker’s performance. Firstly, that NO ONE I’ve ever seen essay this difficult part, this legendary woman of infinite variety has done it justice. Until now.

And Tiffany Baker is playing her in this kind of cobbled together mash-up of “Coriolanus”, “Julius Ceasar” and “Anthony and Cleopatra” which the neo-phyte Guerrilla Shakespeare Project is calling “And to the Republic:The Roman Plays of Shakespeare Reconstructed.”

I’m not really sure what all this reconstructing was adding up to, except it puts Cleopatra front and center of all these plays(it’s only 90 mins.) and gives the scintillating young Ms. Baker the role of the career. Or her first outstanding role, in what I hope will be an equally outstanding career. She so good as Cleopatra you’ll never be able to get her out of your head, nor will you want to.

She deserves to be Cleopatra in a full-on production of Shakespeare’s “Anthony and Cleopatra.” And Shaw’s “Shakespeare and Cleopatra.” Why not?

I got the feeling after seeing Tiffany Baker’s ASTOUNDING turn as the Queen of the Nile that she could play ANYthing.

I’ve always felt Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s greatest roles for women. He just didn’t do it very much, and featured the male parts much more than he did the women. Because in those days, women weren’t allowed to be actresses, and so astonishingly the role of Cleopatra, one of the most difficult ones in the Shakespearean Canon, was originally played by a boy!

After you see Tiffany Baker, you’ll think not only could no one else play Cleopatra, but that no one else SHOULD. She’s THAT good!

Director Geordie Broadwater made the magical choice of giving Cleopatra the “Friends, Romans and Countrymen” speech here.(Also Caesar is an off-stage character. His assassination is never seen, nor is he.) That’s the famous speech that is usually intoned by Mark Anthony. But it is an electrifying moment that I’ll never forget when Ms. Baker takes the podium and profoundly DOES it.

Caesar was after all her lover. Or one of them.

She is at turns, sultry, seductive, intelligent, powerful, passionate, defiant, fierce, funny, all the adjectives that you think Cleopatra should be. With a whiskey voice that suggests Tullalah Bankhead crossed with Jacqueline Kennedy, she is royalty personified.

And this is a modern dress production. And costumer designer Lea Reeves has gone to town and given Ms. Baker the sharpest and chic-est tailored outfits to wear, as well as a red satin sheet. She looks equally ravishing in red as in black.

In the most minimal of minimalist settings(by Brooklyn Praxis), the struggling young company is well, struggling to do something new with Shakespeare, and what they’ve done this time is to afford Tiffany Baker an incredible star vehicle and I’m so glad they did!

I got to share a few stolen moments with the actress herself, who told me she was born in Detroit, but then at six moved to Jacksonville, Florida, so there is a touch of the Southern Belle in her. I see many Tennessee Williams plays ahead.

And having just graduated from NYU’s prestigious Grad Acting program with the rising star Dave Quay in her class, I really feel Tiffany Baker is in a class by herself. She totally credits her training at NYU for giving her the power, majesty and control to speak all of Cleopatra’s lines so perfectly and so memorably.

In someone so young, it is an astounding combination of artistry and technical prowess.

I can’t wait to see the next thing she’ll do! And don’t worry dear readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theater, I’ll keep you posted!

All’s Well That Ends Well ~ Shakespeare’s worst?

All’s well doesn’t really end very well, or begin very well, or middle very well either. On a night when all New York homosexuals were celebrating the historic Gay Marriage victory on Gay Pride weekend, I’m stuck seeing this disappointing. frustrating muddle of a impossible play. Not happy.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is a famous line and a great title but the buck stops there. I, an inveterate Bardolator, have never seen this play staged. Ever. And as I questioned other playgoers on that lovely summer night in Central Park where it was being performed in the equally lovely Delacorte theater, no one had seen it either. Yuck. No wonder this play is never done.

This premise is just unbelievable. And Daniel Sullivan, one of the great stage directors, we have in our midst, does not know WHAT to do with this mess of a play. So he creates an even bigger mess.

There’s a wordless, but beautiful ball scene in the very beginning of the evening, and the waltz that most of the supernumeraries do, is stunning. Elegant, peaceful, and a lie, since nothing in the succeeding production leaves up to this charming moment.

And Annie Parisse’s is no help. Said by all in the play to be a woman who is beyond admirable and by what in today’s terms would be phrased “charismatic”, she exhibits none of these qualities. And her emotional range stays the same as any forgettable TV actress, which evidently she was on “Law and Order.” “All’s Well That Ends Well” was such a boring disaster, it made me long for “Law and Order.”

And that’s not right the desired reaction, I presume.

But it shows, that,yes, even Shakespeare could write a bad play.

Even “Double Falsehood which was recently deemed part of the Canon (Shakespeare’s official ouevre), had moments, speeches of great intensity and poetry, that for sure felt Shakespearean. “All’s Well That Ends Well” has none.

It proved that, yes, Shakespeare, too, could be a Hollywood hack, were he alive today. He would  re-writes. He would re-cycle. He would do TV movies.

“All’s Well that End’s Well” recycles “Pericles” another one of Shakespeare’s worst. They call them “Problem Plays”, and it also re-uses much of “Winter’s Tale”(another problem) and “Much Ado About Nothing”, which is saved by the introduction of Beatrice and Benedict.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is a Shakespearean garbage heap.

And the mediocre Annie Parrisse as a Shakespearean leading lady. No thank you very much.

Memories of Jill Clayburgh, R.I.P.

I met Jill Clayburgh and her beautiful, talented daughter Lily Rabe at a Drama Desk Luncheon at Sardi’s a number of years ago. Actually, it was the year of “Doubt” because Cherry Jones was on the panel. I think it was about something like “What the Drama Desk  Award Meant to Me as an Actor” because there was nothing but actors on the panel. Frances Sternhagen, John Lithgow, Cherry and others.

And Jill and Lily and I were sat next to each at this event which was quite lengthy I remember and the lunch came first.

Jill was talking about our mutual friend Amy Robinson, who went to Sarah Lawrence, as did Jill. They were both in Florida doing something together regardingwhat ended in  the Bush/Gore mess down there. Was this before the election even? Were they trying to register voters? Oh, they were campaigning for Gore. That was it.

 I was surprised, and Jill was saying about Amy “She’s STILL producing her movies. But you know, movies today are not like the movies they used to do (in the ’70s)” Which is putting it mildly.

Most recently Amy was one of the producers of Meryl Streep’s latest triumph “Julie and Julia,” but I knew Amy as an actress at LaMama, just having graduated from Sarah Lawrence. Amy was in the wild experimental troupe Grupo Bilingue with me in the VERY early ’70s, and had been Petlurah, Cossack in an Israeli play called “Toy Story” at La Mama, where I was the assistant stage manager! This was very early days!

Susan Haskins, now the producer/co-hostess of PBS TheaterTalk with Michael Riedel, was also a classmate of Amy’s from Sarah Lawrence, and both Susan and Amy were IN THE CAST of my first play “The Babs’n’Judy Show” at the WPA theater, directed by another Sarah Lawrence alum, Bob Plunket. It was a smash hit at the time and really launched my career as a playwright.

Amy played a talk show host(!) named Carmelita Pope, and Susan had a few lines as a “TV director”(!?!) Talk about prophetic!

Anyway alllll these Sarah Lawrence connections gave Jill and I plenty to talk about over that lonnnnng lunch.

Jill was taught at Sarah Lawrence by the same teachers that had taught Amy, Susan, Bob and also now documentary filmmaker Nancy Heiken who just had an international success this year with “Kimjongilia.” These were the great academic/experimental theater directors the late Will Leach and Jon Braswell.

I remember that Jill admitted that yes, she had participated in the Sarah Lawrence song nights, which was an evening of current pop standards sung by the undergraduate young ladies of SLU. Jill didn’t remember what song she sang. I think Carly Simon was a classmate. But NOT Yoko Ono.

Jill’s big film break, of course, had been getting the part of Carole Lombard, in “Gable and Lombard” which had launched her cinematically. She got particular praise for that portrayal, she thought, always being modesty itself, because people didn’t have a very strong view of Lombard, as they did about Clark Gable. James Brolin, believe it or not, played Gable!

She then went on to become the poster girl for the Women’s Movement in film after film that broke stereotypes of women’s leading roles in movies, probably forever, “An Unmarried Woman” being main among them. It shouldn’t’ve surprised me that Jill was registering voters in Florida. She’ll always be remembered as a seminal, political figure because of her great screen portrayls in the ’70s, which earned her two Oscar nominations.

She also told me that she got in to Show Business because her mother had been a secretary to David Merrick, the controversial Broadway producer, and so, she had virtually grown up on the Great White Way. And she and her mother both liked the universally despised Merrick. Her mother always took her to Sardi’s as a little girl. So she always associated Sardi’s, the legendary Broadway watering hole, with the happiest memories of her childhood. She knew the Sardi’s menu upside down and backwards, and knew all the nooks and crannies of it. We were having the Drama Desk luncheon on the third floor. I didn’t even know that they HAD a third floor! But Jill did. And she had been there many times.

Lily, her beautiful blonde daughter, was sitting between us at Sardi’s and had heard all these stories before. And I told Lily that she was going to get nominated for a Drama Desk Award for the play she was making her debut in that year. And she did!

Jill and I were soul-mates from that time on, and pen pals via email. She told me she NEVER answered the phone(!) but emails she always responded to. And as her work in this past decade kept shifting her back and forth between both coasts, emails were something she actively enjoyed doing. Since she never answered the phone!

She told me that when she was young, stalkers, etc. were a problem, but “not anymore” and she laughed, although she still never answered the phone.

Lily Rabe is as photogenic and as beautiful in her own way as her famous movie star mother, and of course, the great chronicler of Viet Nam, playwright David Rabe, was Lily’s father and Jill’s husband of many, many years.

Lily was playing Portia to Al Pacino’s Shylock in Shakespeare in the Park in NYC this summer, and she was terrific in it, as was the production as was Pacino. This was quite a serious dramatic breakthrough for Lily, who has consistently worked in New York theater over the past decade. She also, by the way, went to Sarah Lawrence.

I waited for her after the show to say “Hi” and congratulate her on this stunning success in Shakespeare, no less. But the security outside the stage door in the Park was kind of tight that night and I was saying “Hello” to two other friends in the show, Heather Lind, who just graduated from NYU and Hamish Linklater.

So when I didn’t see Lily emerge, I thought “Well, I’ll catch up with tales of her and her mom and dad later.” But that wasn’t to be…

The last time I saw Jill Clayburgh in person was after a performance of “The Clean House” at Lincoln Center. We had a long walk down Broadway in the moonlight. It was the year Penelope Cruz got nominated for Best Actress for the Spanish language “Volver” and we were discussing that. She was a member of the Academy, of course, because she’d been nominated so many times.

That silvery moonlit NY night was the last time I saw Jill Clayburgh alive, though we continued to communicate by email, and in recent years she was mostly in LA. I was shocked to hear that she battled leukemia for so many years. She never mentioned it. Never complained.

She was the epitome of “A Class Act.”

R.I.P. Jill. A great actress, a great lady, a great spirit, a great loss.

PS: I never had the great good fortune to have Jill as a guest on my program, but you can see her in a very nice clip that’s in Main Frame at www.youtube.com/theatertalk

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