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    Art. Life & Show-Biz

    Trio con brio

    Three veteran actresses tell of their highlights and hardships on and off the stage in the entertaining reminiscences of "Art, Life & Show-Biz."


    The three women who star in "Art, Life & Show-Biz" have all had long careers on the stage and their stories get told in this chatty and charming play.

    Directed by: Ain Gordon.
    Cast: Helen Gallagher, Lola Pashalinski and Valda Setterfield.
    P.S. 122
    150 First Ave. at 9th St.
    Previews start: Jan. 3, 2003
    Jan. 9-26, 2003

    There's Helen Gallagher, winner of two Tony awards for performances in the musicals "No, No Nanette" and "Pal Joey" and three Daytime Emmy awards for her long-running role on the soap "Ryan's Hope"; Lola Pashalinski, one of the founding members of Charles Ludlam's legendary Ridiculous Theatrical Company, who has won three Obie awards over the years and was recently seen on Broadway in "Fortune's Fool"; and Valda Setterfield, a dancer and actress who performed for many years with Merce Cunningham and worked with the likes of Woody Allen, Mikhail Barishnikov and Robert Wilson. Acting as emcee and narrator to an extent, Ain Gordon conducts the storytelling these three women do in an inventive and engaging way.

    They each start out talking about their younger days, how they got started in performing and the meaningful personal circumstances surrounding that. Gallagher talks about her tumultuous family life during the Great Depression, Pashalinski describes coming out at around the time she started acting, and Setterfield talks about being the student of a demanding teacher. The women sit in three chairs and behind them on a screen we see photographs illustrating the points they make. Gordon, off to one side of the stage, draws all their stories together and emphasizes that they all have a deeper meaning.

    Theater enthusiasts will certainly enjoy the tales told by these eloquent women, notably Pashalinski's story of starring in Ludlam's "Bluebeard," Gallagher's relation of her time working with Agnes DeMille, and Setterfield's endearing story of her role in a revue staged in Italy where she and the other dancers were supposed to stand at the edge of the stage and act sexy. Setterfield was at a loss as to what to do. She was wearing a long hairpiece at the time and the only thing she could think of to do was to slowly twirl her hair around her finger and smile. She turned out to be the hit of the show as men grabbed her by the ankles and called her "little doll" in Italian.

    The women talk about the hard times too. Setterfield was in a harrowing accident where a car she was in was hit by a train. Pashalinski faced a period when acting jobs weren't coming in and she took work in a cubic zirconia factory. And Gallagher worked in commercials until she got fed up with the way Madison Avenue treated actors. The women all bounced back and had future successes, thus making their stories all the richer.

    You feel as if you really get to know these women as you hear their stories, and even if you had no idea who they were as you made your way into the theater you may find yourself wanting to hear more from them as the evening goes on. This show celebrates these three lives lived on the stage in a greatly entertaining fashion and if you're passionate about theater history you'll find it to be quite a treat.

    JANUARY 15, 2003

    Reader comments on Art. Life & Show-Biz:

  • Her wedding day to Frank Wise   from Amy Grosky, Feb 18, 2009

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