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Interview: Loretta Swit of MIDDLETOWN at Actors' Playhouse

In addition to her prolific work as an actress, Swit is a long-time animal activist and has won numerous awards for her work to champion the rights of animals.

Interview: Loretta Swit of MIDDLETOWN at Actors' Playhouse

If you had to describe Loretta Swit in just three words, they would be: gracious, interesting, and dynamic.

You already know that Swit as the multi-talented performer who won two Primetime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the smash series M*A*S*H, the People's Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Performer, and TV Land Award for Best Impact. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has won numerous other awards for acting and her work as an activist for animals.

She enthralled audiences in made for television movies such as Cagney & Lacey, Games Mother Never Taught You, A Killer Among Friends, and It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman!, and numerous television shows. While Hollywood has been a big part of her successful career, Swit has also done a lot of theatre including Same Time, Next Year and The Mystery of Edwin Drood on Broadway, regional theatre and tours of productions such as Mame, The Vagina Monologues, Amorous Crossing, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, and Shirley Valentine.

Florida theatre lovers can see Swit star as Dotty in Dan Clancy's critically acclaimed play Middletown, which also stars Didi Conn, Donny Most, and Adrian Zmed. The play charters the roller coaster of life and the life-long friendships formed by Dotty and Peg and their husbands Don and Tom. "They're relatable characters," notes Swit. "They're likable. You become part of them. [There are] different kinds of humor for each one. They're very human, very believable human people, characters. It's delicious. You're a part of this when you watch this. I love that." She enthuses that it's "everything you want in a play. It's a warm, wonderful play about marriage, children, relationships."

Middletown is staged simply without a set design or props. The performers read directly from the pages as if they're reading from their own diaries and letters. Swit emphasizes the importance of the actors' breaking the wall occasionally during the play. "The audience, in my opinion, is always your most important partner," she says. "They communicate what they want from you. That's what makes live theatre so exciting. Everyone is participating."

For Swit, acting was the only thing she ever wanted to do. She was blessed with great talent, but talent isn't enough in the competitive business of acting. "I had a drive," she says, and she remained determined and optimistic. "People are always looking for fresh talent," she says. She notes that they go to fringe theatre to scout promising performers. She recalls that the "incredible casting people" at Gunsmoke "took chances on new talent," including New York stage actors who didn't have film experience. In her opinion, the beginning of a career "is an exciting time." She encourages people who are seriously considering acting as a profession to go for it full steam ahead. "Don't even think about it. You just do it. You enjoy the journey."

In addition to her prolific work as an actress, Swit is a long-time animal activist and has won numerous awards for her work to champion the rights of animals. She is the founder of SwitHeart Animal Alliance, an organization dedicated to end animal suffering. SwitHeart works with various nonprofit organizations and programs to protect domestic, wild, native, and farm animals. She put her remarkable artistic talent to help promote the organization in the book, SwitHeart: The Watercolour Artistry & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit. The book, which is going into its second printing, includes 65 full-color paintings and drawings and 22 photographs. Proceeds from the book will be donated to animal charities. Swit is also the author of A Needlepoint Scrapbook.

Don't miss Middletown, which will be shown from November 17 through December 12 (with a possible extension) at the Actors' Playhouse, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, Florida. Tickets range from $40.00 to $90.00. Show times are Wednesday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m. For tickets, call (305) 444-9293 or visit www.actorsplayhouse.org. Also visit www.switheart.org and follow Swit on Instagram @lorettaswit and on Twitter @Loretta_Swit.


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