Tony Award-winning actor Judith Ivey has portrayed some juicy characters. There was the highly opinionated Texan, B.J. Potee, on the TV show, "Designing Women," the recalcitrant romantic heroine, Noel Varner, in "The Long Hot Summer," and a year ago, Amanda Wingfield, the emotionally myopic mother of Tenessee Williams's "A Glass Menagerie." (The New York Times called Ivey "tough, compelling and first-rate" in this role.) Playing complicated women has been her stock in trade, it seems. In Ivey's hands, they come to life as dimensional people with whom we can empathize and connect, even when they're not altogether likeable.
Now Judith Ivey takes on the challenge of playing a very likeable and very amusing character, Shirley Valentine, in Long Wharf Theatre's production of the play by the same name. An English housewife, Shirley Valentine is the central character of Willy Russell's 1986 hit comedy. She muses about how the joy and vibrancy in her life have gone missing. Then, out of the blue, a trip to Greece is offered to her and Shirley signs on. It becomes the catalyst for the adventure, hope, laughs and ultimately, love she's wanted.
When "Shirley Valentine" opened on Broadway in 1989, Mel Gussow wrote in the New York Times, "This is a one-woman show that earns its stage time." With Judith Ivey in the role, that sentiment will undoubtedly double. Long Wharf Theatre's "Shirley Valentine" runs from December 2 - January 2. Tickets are $45-$65. For more information, tickets and performance times, visit the Theatre's website .
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