Saturday, February 28, 2009

Belle Elle - Ellen Crawford and "The Belle of Amherst"

I missed this posting yesterday, as I spent all day in Seattle on business, but....

I loved "The Belle of Amherst" Thursday night. I knew I would (as I said on Thursday afternoon). After all, it is the story of one of my very favorite poets (Emily Dickinson) performed by one of my very favorite actors (Ellen Crawford) at one of my very favorite theaters (Interplayers). But knowing you will enjoy something ahead of time and actually going through the process of enjoying it are two very different things.

I loved the script. It was nearly musical, as it intertwined Dickinson's poetry with her story. And I so loved Ellen's performance. She brought the script alive. She was stark and sentimental and funny and real. Interplayers has an intimate stage, so the audience and actors are immediately present to each other. I felt transported to the 1800s, when Emily Dickinson lived. Ellen gave me the chance to see things through Emily's eyes. She was so transformed to her character that I almost didn't recognize her, even though I knew intellectually that it was Ellen on stage. Her complete immersion into the role is a tribute to the poet and a gift to the rest of us. I plan to see the play at least two more times.

An exciting sidenote: Ellen had to cancel all the weekday performances for this coming week because she has been called back to L.A. to film the finale of "ER." She was one of the original nurses on the show - Nurse Lydia Wright - you would recognize her if you ever watched "ER" - and actually said the first words uttered on the first show, way back in 1994.

Another sidenote: I've mentioned before that I'm a member of an Idaho filmmaking group called KNIFVES. Well, we are trying to organize a field trip to the show once Ellen gets back in Spokane from L.A. this coming Saturday. I'm hoping to talk the theater into adding a Sunday matinee on either March 8 or March 15, so stay tuned. (BTW, KNIFVES made me board secretary a couple weeks ago. Everyone wants a lawyer on their board!)

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