Lynn Regrave in "Nightingale". Photo by Craig Schwartz
Some people are just born to act. Recently, I had the privilege of seeing two wonderful actresses open in separate Los Angeles theater productions. New York’s got nothing on us!
On my very first professional acting job, I got to work with Lynn Redgrave. Talk about not being worthy….
That must have been some show; one of the best, most revered actresses of our time and little old Karen Salkin. It’s more bizarre than six degrees!
Lynn recently opened her one-woman show, “Nightingale” at the Mark Taper Forum. I had actually started a small role in a film that week, but hadn’t shot my scenes yet. Unfortunately, after sitting in my dressing room for two days without working, I got called to the set unexpectedly the day of the play opening.
I decided to continue with my plans to attend the show, even though it meant giving up the movie role. (And ironically, Lynn’s the one who taught me that “work breeds work.” Oh well.) And even though I second-guess every decision I’ve ever made, except four (LA, Mr. X, and my two dogs), I’m happy I stuck with this one. Watching Lynn Redgrave at work is akin to attending a master class.
That being said, I still got nervous for her, as we all do for people we know well. But I was instantly put at ease the moment she came on stage. To say she’s brilliant is an understatement. I was so mesmerized by her performance that I forgot that she had written the show, too. How can one person be so talented??? And likeable and popular, too. But enough about me. (Only kidding.)
“Nightingale” is a fictitious account of the life of Ms. Redgrave’s maternal grandmother. My mind usually goes to sleep at one-person shows, but this time, I actually was seeing the whole tableau she was portraying, as though in a period-piece movie. In each scene, she made such subtle changes to her character of Mildred Asher that we had the experience of watching someone’s whole life in just ninety minutes, yet left with the feeling that we knew her intimately.
I believe the entire audience was blown away by Lynn Redgrave’s tour de force performance. There was an immediate, and lengthy, standing ovation at the end. Many were choked-up, at the least, even a jealous bitch such as myself.
One personal note: Lynn is probably the most famous actor I’ve ever worked with, and I must say, the nicest. I believe she rolled her eyes only 2 or 3 times in the whole week of working together in almost every scene, as opposed to now that I know her in real life, where she rolls them about as much as everyone else, if not more so, being British and classy and all.
Now, if only some of her magic could have rubbed off on me, you wouldn’t be reading this because I’d be a grand dame of theater, too. But alas, for all of us, there is only one Lynn Redgrave. My advice is that you hie yourself to the Taper and bask in her glory, while you Angelenos have the chance. And bring your hankies. Or your boyfriend’s shirt sleeve, which I’m not saying if I did or not, but it’s always good in a pinch.
“Nightingale” running through November 19
Mark Taper Forum 135 N. Grand Ave.