Michael Learned and Granville Van Dusen find unexpected love in "Southern Comforts"


Four-time Emmy award-winning actress Michael Learned and veteran actor Granville Van Dusen find unexpected love in Kathleen Clark's perceptively witty and poignant play, Southern Comforts, directed by Jules Aaron. The four-week run ends April 10 at International City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. 

Called a "delightful, even sneakily sexy, romance" by The New York Times, Southern Comforts follows the development of a December-December relationship between a feisty widow and a crusty widower who find love late in life. Recovering from the loss of their respective spouses, the saucy Southern belle who is used to getting her own way and the retired, set-in-his-ways Yankee find in each other what they least expected: a second chance at love.

Playwright Kathleen Clark noted in an interview, "When it comes to love, sometimes the hardest part is not finding someone, but learning how to live with that person once you do."

In that vein, Southern Comforts examines the intimate working of relationships, exploring the challenges that confront every couple, young and old alike. Are they getting together for the right reasons? Do they have enough in common to make a relationship last? And what about sex? The twists and turns of love know no age, but Gus (Van Dusen) and Amanda (Learned) find a way into each other's hearts...and into ours.

Southern Comforts is based on the experiences of Clark's mother and grandmother, both of whom moved from Tennessee to New Jersey where they found the men of their dreams. A finalist for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, it premiered at New York's Primary Stages in 2006 and was produced at the Coconut Grove Playhouse with HAl Holbrook and Dixie Carter.

Four-time Emmy award-winning Michael Learned is best known for her role as Olivia Walton on the CBS family drama series The Waltons. Learned also starred as Nurse Mary Benjamin in the hospital drama Nurse that ran for two seasons on CBS, and in Arthur Miller's television adaptation of All My Sons. Other television appearances include Gunsmoke, Police Story, St. Elsewhere, Murder She Wrote, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, All My Children, One Life to Live, Scrubs, and Cold Case. She recently concluded a guest appearance on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital portraying terminally ill cancer patient Shirley Smith. Feature films include For the Love of Mary, Life During Wartime, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and Power directed by Sidney Lumet. Her long list of stage credits includes Broadway and Off Broadway: All Over, The Best Man, The Sisters Rosensweig, The Time of the Cuckoo, Loves of Anatol and The Three Sisters; National Tours: Three Tall Women by Edward Albee, On Golden Pond (with Tom Bosley), and Love Letters; and Regional Theater: Woman in Mind, Hapgood, The Merchant of Venice, A Delicate Balance and Private Lives, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (A.C.T.); Elizabeth the Queen (Folger Shakespeare Festival); Ride Down Mt. Morgan (Williamstown); Looking for Normal (Geffen Playhouse); Mary Stuart, The Importance of Being Earnest, Picnic (Ahmanson); Antony and Cleopatra, Dancing at Lughansa (San Diego's Old Globe); Steel Magnolias (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts) among many others. She performed the title role in Driving Miss Daisy in Sarnia, Canada this summer, a part she has played several times in theaters throughout the U.S. including at La Mirada here in Southern California. In addition to her Emmys, she is the recipient of the People's Choice Award and four Golden Globe nominations.

A forty-year veteran of stage, screen, and television, Granville Van Dusen has starred in over 200 TV shows and has narrated close to a thousand TV and radio commercials, as well as voicing the role of Race Bannon in the cartoon classic Jonny Quest. He began his career at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where he spent five seasons and was honored to work with Sir Tyrone Guthrie himself. More recent theater credits include Managing Maxine at the Asolo Theater in Sarasota; A Delicate Balance with Susan Clark and Bonnie Franklin at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura; and Darwin in Malibu at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, for which he received an Ovation nomination. He starred with Len Cariou in the Manitoba Theatre Company's production of The Dresser; in Golf with Alan Shepard with Jack Klugman and Charles Durning; and in Lewis Black's One Slight Hitch with Michael Learned. He played Scar in The Lion King at the Pantages. At the Matrix Theatre, he performed in Waiting for Godot, The Homecoming, Dangerous Corner, Habeas Corpus and in Honour with Susan Sullivan. He appeared in San Diego at The Old Globe Theatre in Private Lives. His critically acclaimed one-man show The Memoirs of Abraham Lincoln continues to tour nationwide, and he has won Drama-Logue Awards for Otherwise Engaged and for Undiscovered Country at the Mark Taper Forum.

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Amber Cassell From a very early age, Amber Romina Cassell always knew that she did not want to be a writer. While attending film school at the University of Southern California, however, she volunteered as a critic for the school newspaper in order to see all the plays and screenings around town and the rest, as they say, is history. A devoted lover of musical theater, Amber has had the immense pleasure of covering some of Los Angeles' most prominent theatrical events and has conducted in-depth interviews with some of Broadway's greatest talents and strives everyday to help promote and encourage the LA theater scene.

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