Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Outtakes #4: Eve Arden

While we may think first and foremost of her sixty-plus movies, and starring role in Our Miss Brooks, Eve Arden had a lifelong love for live theater, and continued to perform onstage as often as possible, even after achieving her Hollywood fame. In 1970, fresh from her two-year run in TV's The Mothers-in-Law, Eve accepted an offer to star in the national touring company of Leonard Gershe's Broadway hit Butterflies Are Free. Eve played Mrs. Baker, overprotective mother of a young man who's been blind from birth, and is falling in love with his new neighbor, aspiring actress Jill. The New York production opened in 1969, starring Eileen Heckart and Keir Dullea, and would run for more than 1100 performances. Heckart reprised her role in the 1972 film, winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

Interviewed during the Chicago run, Eve said, "It's a very good, interesting, fun play ... It's a comedy, but very touching. I can't remember doing a play so satisfying to an audience." In Los Angeles, the company settled in for a healthy run at the renowned Huntington Hartford Theatre. Ready to long for the good old days? According to this vintage playbill, top ticket prices, for orchestra seats on Friday and Saturday nights, cost $7.50. A nosebleed seat in the upper balcony at a Wednesday matinee could be yours for only $2.00. Of Eve's performance, newspaper critic Joseph H. Firman wrote, "Arden shows herself once again to be the among the best of America's comediennes, but adds serious acting that reveals skill and depth."

It's a shame that Eve's performance in Butterflies Are Free exists only in playgoers' memories. But close your eyes and listen -- can't you just hear that voice responding to Jill, the wannabee actress, with, "Might I have seen you in anything, besides your underwear?"

1 comment:

  1. I recall her wonderful performance. After 50 years, her performance still burns in my memories along with her Costar, Goldie Hawn.