Play delves into advice columnist’s private life
Amelia Barrett stars as Ann Landers in “The Lady with All the Answers” at College of DuPage. | Courtesy of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble
‘The Lady with All the Answers’
McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn
(630) 942-4000; www.atthemac.org
For more than 45 years, advice columnist Eppie Lederer, writing as Ann Landers, dispensed wit and wisdom about love, marriage, sex and other vital issues through her syndicated newspaper column, often soliciting advice from experts in various fields.
Lederer, as Landers, gained a reputation for being someone who knew all the answers.
“Landers often said that she was not an expert, but she always referred to experts,” said Artistic Director Connie Canaday Howard, who is directing the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s (BTE) one-woman show, “The Lady with All the Answers,” at McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. “This show is about her own life and how she doesn’t have all the answers.”
The BTE production of “The Lady with All the Answers” will be staged between Sept. 7 - 23.
Written by David Rambo, “The Lady with All the Answers” is drawn from the life and letters of Ann Landers, with the cooperation of Landers’ daughter, Margo Howard. Landers died in 2002 at the age of 83.
The play is set on a June night in 1975 in Landers’ Chicago apartment, and she’s dealing with a personal dilemma as she struggles to meet her column deadline. In the column she is preparing, which is a letter to her public, she reveals how her relationships, both personally and professionally, are changing. Throughout the show, Landers talks about her life and intersperses these stories with readings of some of her favorite letters, some of which she will include in an upcoming book. Amelia Barrett, BTE’s associate artistic director, stars in this one-woman show.
“The play is fictitious, but it is based on fact,” Canaday Howard said. “We see her before a particular column is due. She is also working on a book. This night in 1975 was a major turning point in her life.”
To research the role of Ann Landers, Canaday Howard and Barrett watched old videotapes.
“Separately, Amelia and I watched videos of Eppie, particularly interviews, listening to her talk,” Canaday Howard said. “Amelia is definitely not attempting to be an impressionist. Ann Landers had a distinctive dialect and Amelia is working to perfect that. The costuming and hair design will add to the persona.”
Canaday Howard believes that Landers’ personality is the play’s main appeal.
“Ann Landers was so personable and human,” she said. “She is a high-profile person when we meet her in the play, but she was very humble. It is what brings her humanity to life.”
And although Buffalo Theatre Ensemble rarely presents one-person plays, the last one being “Nocturne” in 2006, Canaday Howard thinks “The Lady with All the Answers” is a great way to begin BTE’s 26th season.
“The issue with one-person plays is always if the piece is compelling enough for a night of theater,” Canaday Howard said. “This one is.”