San Diego REPertory Theatre Transcends Party Lines with ‘Walter Cronkite is Dead.’

San Diego REPertory Theatre Transcends Party Lines with ‘Walter Cronkite is Dead.’
July, 2011 Client News

For the second production of their 36th season, San Diego REPertory Theatre (San Diego REP) presents “Walter Cronkite is Dead.,” the West Coast premiere of an intimate comedy that adds a dose of wisdom and reflection to the vitriolic political rhetoric of red state versus blue state. Yes, Walter Cronkite is dead, but his wisdom and compassion lives on in this insightful comedy about what might be possible if people with opposing political views stop shouting and start listening. Written by Joe Calarco and directed by Shana Wride, “Walter Cronkite is Dead.” will be performed in the Lyceum Space. Previews begin Sat., Sept. 17. Opening night is Fri., Sept. 23 and the production runs through Sun., Oct. 16, 2011.

The Story

A fierce winter storm has grounded airplanes up and down the East Coast. Two women, who appear to have nothing in common, are stuck in a waiting area at Reagan International Airport. Patty, a chatty southern blue-collared conservative, is almost physically unable to tolerate silence. Margaret is a reserved, educated liberal from Washington who is not interested in sharing her table, or her thoughts, with the Walmart-clad Patty. Forced together for a long night in an airport terminal, the two strangers share a bottle of wine and begin to talk …and listen. Their conversation is funny, difficult, deeply revealing and astonishingly frank. Patty and Margaret share details of themselves and their lives that lead them to a place of kinship neither of them could have imagined.

Ellen Crawford (Margaret) has previously appeared at San Diego REP in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” with husband Mike Genovese, and in “Top Girls.” Crawford’s other San Diego appearances include “The Hostage” at the Old Globe and “Lulu” at La Jolla Playhouse. At the 2010 Utah Shakespeare Festival, Crawford was Miss Havisham in the world premiere of the musical “Great Expectations” and Mrs. Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice.”

Off Broadway, Crawford played opposite Daniel J. Travanti in “A Touch of The Poet” and the Mother in “The Misunderstanding” at the Flea Theatre. Crawford originated the role of Sister Lee on Broadway in “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” She has appeared at other regional theatres such as the Ahmanson Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Berkeley Repertory, Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, PlayMakers Repertory, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Missouri Repertory, Interplayers Theatre, and Maine’s Public Theatre.

On television Crawford is probably best known as Nurse Lydia Wright on “ER” and has also recurred on “Desperate Housewives,” “Boston Legal,” and “7th Heaven”. Her films include “The Man From Earth,” “Soldier,” “Cries Of Silence,” “The War Of The Roses,” and “Remember,” for which her role as patient with Alzheimer’s Disease garnered her a Best Actress nomination at the California Independent Film Festival. Crawford’s upcoming films are “Model Minority” and “Petunia”.

Melinda Gilb (Patty) returns to San Diego REPertory Theatre for her fifth production in “Walter Cronkite is Dead.” Prior performances include “Miss Witherspoon,” “Working,” “Always Patsy Cline,” and “Six Women with Brain Death.” Other regional work includes “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” as the original Mama Who and “Suds” at the Old Globe; “Hello Dolly,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Annie” at Starlight Theatre; “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “The Smell of the Kill” at North Coast Repertory Theatre; “The Receptionist” with Cygnet Theatre; and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at Welk Resort Theatre.

Off Broadway, Gilb was a member of the original casts of “Back to Bacharach and David” and “Suds,” the latter she co-wrote. On Broadway, Glib was an original cast member of “Singin’ in the Rain.” She was also on the first national tour of Joseph Papp’s “The Pirate of Penzance,” and has performed the popular revue “The Melinda and Steve Show” in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego. Gilb’s television credits include features on BBC-1’s “The Full Wax” and “Ruby Takes a Trip,” as well as a guest appearance on “Becker” (CBS).

“Walter Cronkite is Dead.” marks Shana Wride’s directorial debut with San Diego REPertory Theatre although she has been on stage at the REP as an actor in “Suds,” “Six Women with Brain Death,” “Working,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Women Who Steal.” Recent directorial credits include “Or” (Moxie Theatre), “Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins” (Diversionary Theatre) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (Compass Theatre). As an actor, she recently received the 2010 San Diego Critics Circle Award for her work in “Private Lives” (Cygnet Theatre). Other acting credits include: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Twelfth Night,” “Merry Wives of Windsor” (Shakespeare Festival Los Angeles), “Indoor, Outdoor” (Colony Theatre), “Macbeth,” “Fen,” and Measure for Measure” (Open Fist Theatre), “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” “Henry IV parts 1&2” (Idaho Shakespeare Festival), “New,” “Shadowy Waters,” “No Time Like the Present”  (Sledgehammer Theatre), “Heidi Chronicles,” “Lips Together, Teeth Apart”  (The Gaslamp Quarter Theatre). While living in Los Angeles, she co-hosted the nationally syndicated radio show, “Women Aloud” with actor/comedienne Mo Gaffney.

“Walter Cronkite is Dead.” runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 16, 2011. Opening Night is Fri., Sept. 23, 2011. San Diego REP will host Surround Events to enhance the performance experience for guests. These discussions, performances and interactive events related to the themes of “Walter Cronkite is Dead.” will be held in the Lyceum Lobby before selected performances. Surround Events are free and open to the public. A complete list of events will be posted at www.sdrep.org.