Lady With All The Answers, February 17 at Glenridge Performing Arts Center

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Lady With All The Answers, February 17 at Glenridge Performing Arts Center

 

[Sarasota, FL: February 2, 2016]  For decades, millions of Americans began their day reading three simple words, “Dear Ann Landers.” Eppie Lederer, better known as advice columnist Ann Landers, answered countless letters from lovelorn teens, confused couples and a multitude of others in need of advice. For one night only, The Lady With All The Answers, a one-woman show featuring Rebecca McGraw as the famed “Ann Landers,” is on the stage at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center (7333 Scotland Way, Sarasota), 8 pm, Wednesday, February 17, 2016. Tickets, $22.50 each, can be purchased online at www.GPACTix.com, or by calling the GPAC Box Office at 941-552-5325.

 

Playwright, screenwriter and producer David Rambo created this one-woman, off-Broadway tour de force providing a compelling portrait of the bubbly, frank and slightly eccentric writer that became a fixture of our culture. Folksy, funny, straightforward, and validating, Lady With All The Answers features a veritable treasure trove of her favorite letters, as well as hilarious behind-the-scenes showbiz stories and tales of personal triumph. This show is all about the no-nonsense woman whose daily dialogue with America helped shape the social landscape for the last half century.

The production features seasoned actress Rebecca McGraw as writer Ann Landers. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, McGraw performed in many musicals in New York before pursuing an MFA in Acting from Illinois State University. She also performed with the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. McGraw taught acting for several years at Graceland University in Iowa and Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga.

 

Since retiring from teaching, McGraw has resumed her acting career full-time and has appeared regionally with such companies as Cortland Repertory Theatre (“Damn Yankees,” “All Shook Up,” “Les Miserablés”), Prather Entertainment (“The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” “The Drowsy Chaperone”), Blue Gate Musicals (“Half-Stitched”) and “The Springer Opera House,” State Theatre of Georgia (“The Full Monty,” “Dinner with Friends,” “Enchanted April”).

The touring production of The Lady With All The Answers is produced by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan.

 

David Rambo on The Lady With All The Answers

An Ann Landers column had heart, humor and a little sex. That’s what I wanted my play about her to be.

 

Ann Landers at her peak had over 70 million readers. She informed and chronicled the rapidly changing society in the second half of the 20th century. Although I read her growing up (her column was always the hot part of The Pottstown Mercury), it was when the news broke of her divorce in 1975 that I realized how connected I felt to her. I was dealing with the shock of my parents’ divorce at the time. Mom and Dad? And now, Ann Landers? Was nothing sacred?

 

When I read in 2002 that Ann Landers had died, I couldn’t help thinking what a good subject she would be for a one-actor play. She was a theatrical character, self-invented, and entertaining. So I started researching. I found a lot of touching incidents and funny stuff, but it was reading about her 1967 trip to Vietnam that made me want to write the play. She tirelessly visited the field hospitals for ten days, speaking with every patient, and getting a name and phone number of a loved one she could call for them when she got back home. She made over 2,500 calls – but never publicized her generosity. The story would become one of the emotional highlights of the play.

 

It took a year for me to connect with Ann Landers’s daughter Margo Howard. She peppered me with rapid-fire questions, “Why Mother? How do you see the play? You won’t make it a musical, will you? Are you going to include the feud (with twin sister Dear Abby)? Are you gay, straight? Democrat, Republican? What else have you written?” Barely keeping pace, I answered every question honestly. Against the advice of her lawyer and friends, Margo took a chance on me, and I wrote the play.

 

When The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego produced the premiere, they suggested Tom Moore as director. He was incisive and wise as we shaped draft after draft, and astutely cast Broadway star Randy Graff. Margo attended the opening, and couldn’t fight tears as the curtain fell.

 

A Chicago production at Northlight Theatre, directed by BJ Jones with Judith Ivey as Ann Landers, transferred off-Broadway to the Cherry Lane Theatre. Judy was deservedly nominated for Lortel and Drama Desk Awards, the play received a Lortel nomination.

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