Lee Meriwether and Theatre Island Bring THE WOMEN OF SPOON RIVER to FringeNYC, 8/10-17
Lee Meriwether and Theatre Island Productions present THE WOMEN OF SPOON RIVER: THEIR VOICES FROM THE HILL as part of the 16th annual New York International Fringe Festival – FringeNYC.
Performances will take place in the SoHo Playhouse (FringeNYC Venue #16), 15 Vandam Street, New York, NY 10013 on Friday, August 10 at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, August 11 at 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, August 12 at 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday, August 14 at 9:00 p.m.; and Friday, August 17 at 5:15 p.m. Tickets are $15-$18 and will be available at www.FringeNYC.org beginning July 20.
MISS AMERICA, CATWOMAN, BARNABY JONES... and now Lee Meriwether returns to the stage to conjure twenty-six women from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology and bring them back to life in this one-hour, one-woman tour de force.
Published in 1915, Spoon River Anthology is a collection of epitaph poems describing the lives of the inhabitants of the fictionAl Small town of Spoon River, and includes two hundred and twelve separate characters providing accounts of their lives, losses and deaths. In 1962, Charles Aidman adapted Spoon River Anthology for the stage. This production premiered in Los Angeles and starred Betty Garrett, Joyce Van Patten, and Naomi Caryl in the three female roles. Understudying Garrett, Van Patten and Caryl was Lee Meriwether. The show then had a successful run on Broadway and has since been produced thousands of times around the world. In 2002, Theatre West revived the show for its 40th anniversary, directed by Garrett and Van Patten.
This time, however, Lee Meriwether - the one-time understudy - now appeared in the role originated by Ms. Garrett. Having an affinity for the show and the women of Spoon River, Lee often felt that Masters had given short shrift to the female residents of his fictional town. Of the over two hundred characters in the collection, only a handful were women. Seeing an opportunity to give these women their due as well as to provide a challenge for herself as an actress, Lee set about adapting Masters' work, extracting nearly all of the female characters. Later, together with writer/actor/director Jim Hesselman, Lee discovered that by performing them in a particular order she could create not only personal accounts of the women as individuals, but also depict an overall picture of the life of women in general - both in terms of a particular period and place, but also in universal and eternal terms.
The Women of Spoon River: Their Voices from the Hill premiered in May of 2010 at Indiana University Southeast, starring Meriwether and directed by Hesselman, with scenic and lighting design by Rebekkah J. Meixner-Hanks and original music by Kenneth Atkins. The show then enjoyed a run of several weeks at Theatre West in 2011.
Lee Meriwether was, successively: Miss San Francisco, Miss California and Miss America. Although most know Lee as "Betty" in the highly successful CBS series, Barnaby Jones - for which she was nominated for both the Golden Globe and the Emmy - or as "Catwoman" in the 1966 Batman movie with Adam West, Lee has had starring or recurring roles in no less than nine series, ranging from the first women's editor with Dave Garroway on the original Today Show on NBC to her three-year run as Lily on The Munsters Today for Universal.
Some of Lee's successful series include: Time Tunnel, The New Andy Griffith Show, Mission: Impossible, The F.B.I., 12 O'Clock High, and Dr. Kildare. Lee studied acting with the famed teacher Lee Strasburg, as well as dancing, singing, and fencing with some of the top coaches in New York. Lee's beginnings in the entertainment industry include her first TV role – The Philco Television Playhouse with Mary Astor, her first motion picture lead – The 4-D Man with Robert Lansing, and her first professional stage appearance – Hatful of Rain with WilLiam Smithers and Lou Antonio.
In addition to portraying "Catwoman," her noteworthy film roles include Andy Griffith's pregnant wife in Angel in My Pocket, and Rock Hudson's southern wife in The Undefeated. Lee "swam" with Namu, The Killer Whale and played the "man" killed by Kim Novak in The Legend of Lylah Clare.
Live theatre, however, continues to be Lee's first love. Attesting to that fact is her long association with Theatre West, a professional actors' workshop in Hollywood. Recent national stage credits include: the female version of The Odd Couple, Last Summer at Blue Fish Cove for which she received the Drama Logue Award for Best Actress as well as the San Francisco Critics Award, The Business of Murder with Van Johnson, Sondheim's Follies with seven former Miss Americas, a national tour with Anthony Zerbe and Roy Dotrice of Country Matters (Sex and Shakespeare!) and most recently productions of the musicals Hello Dolly, Mame, The King and I with George Chakiris, I Do, I Do, A Little Night Music with her husband, Marshall Borden, and the 20th Anniversary tour of Dan Goggin's Nunsense with Kaye Ballard, Mimi Hines, Georgia Engel and Darlene Love.