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Up close and personal

The intimate new ArtsLab Theatre is the venue for the Civic’s Grace and Glorie

By Michael Summers

michael_summers@fortwaynereader.com

Fort Wayne Reader

2014-03-25


At first glance, the set-up to Grace and Glorie seems like a classic clash of cultures.

In this corner you have Grace (Linda Moore), a 90-year old woman from the Blue Ridge Mountains, stricken with cancer and determined not to receive help.

In the other corner, you have Gloria (Joyce Lazier), a young, hard-charging Harvard MBA, transplanted from New York to rural Virginia.

So you’ve got a huge generation gap, plus city and country life styles and assumptions, plus a woman used to taking charge versus a woman who is not going to do a darn thing she’s told, even if it’s for her own good…

It’s a set of conflicts around which the best comedies are made, and that’s how the two-woman cast of Grace and Glorie want you to think of the play, as a comedy. “When people hear some of these words… cancer, dying… they think ‘oh God, that sounds depressing’,” says Joyce Lazier, who plays Gloria. “But Grace and Glorie is mostly a comedy. It’s hard to play, because it’s realistic, and the humor comes out of some serious stuff, but we play it as a comedy that has drama as its backdrop.”

After a tragedy in her own life, Grace and her husband move from New York to rural Virginia. While her husband takes easily to the new scene, Gloria is less enthusiastic At loose ends, she volunteers at hospice after she’s told that that’s what all the “well-to-do” women do. “The hospice needs volunteers with professional experience to help settle (the patients’) affairs and estates,” says Lazier. “Gloria signs on because she has this business background.”

That’s where she meets Grace, who soon checks herself out of the hospice to go back home. It’s Grace that gives the play its title — she calls Gloria “Glorie” after one of her favorite old hymns. Linda Moore, who plays Grace, says her character has a strong stubborn, independent streak. “She doesn’t want to take her morphine; she’s afraid it’ll make her fall asleep and die,” says Moore. “But at the same time, she’s this 90-year-old woman, sick, living all by herself. That’s why Gloria goes to find her, to make her take her medicine.”

Grace and Glorie is a two person show; there’s barely a time when at least one of the characters isn’t on stage. Moore, who is returning to the Fort Wayne Civic stage after more than 30 years away (she and her husband moved to Maryland decades ago and returned to Indiana in 2009), says it isn’t getting into the character that’s the tough part — “I love Grace! She’s funny and complicated… so much fun to play” — it’s all the lines. “I just about spend all my waking hours going over my lines,” she laughs. “We have about 85 pages of script to memorize.”

It’s also the first Civic Theater production to take place in the new ArtsLab Black Box Theatre at the Auer Center. “This is a pretty intimate play, and the smaller space is ideal for this kind of story,” says Lazier. “You can have more natural movements in that small environment. It looks less stagey.”

Phillip Colglazier, the Fort Wayne Civic’s Executive Director and the director of Grace and Glorie, echoes Lazier’s sentiments. “This kind of ‘small’ story, with the two-person cast, just lends itself to that venue,” he says. “It’s a unit set, which allows us to perform it in this kind of space.”

For years, Colglazier had had Grace and Glorie in the back of his mind as a production for the Fort Wayne Civic; the new space seemed perfect for the show. It’s not a particularly well-known play, though a Broadway run when it was first produced in the 90s got great reviews (Hallmark adapted a treacley version of the play for a TV movie several years ago; Colglazier expressly told the two actresses not to watch it). Neither Lazier nor Moore were familiar with Grace and Glorie, though Lazier says another actor friend was impressed. “They said ‘Wow! You are serious’,” she laughs. “It’s daunting to learn all those lines, but the characters are great to spend time with.”

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The Fort Wayne Civic Theater presents Grace and Glorie
The Auer Center ArtsLab Black Box Theatre
300 East Main Street (across the street from the Arts United Center)

Friday, March 28 at 8 pm
Saturday, March 29 at 8 pm
Sunday, March 30 at 2 pm
Friday, April 4 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 5 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 6 at 2 pm
Friday, April 11 at 8 pm
Saturday, April 12 at 8 pm
Sunday, April 13 at 2 pm

Tickets:

$26 Adults; $17 Age 23 and under; $22 Sunday Senior Matinees
Prices Include ArtsTix Box Office Fee

For Tickets Call - (260) 424-5220
Online at fwcivic.org
Or at the ArtsTix Community Box Office
303 E. Main Street

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