The 2014 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program - In The News

Local actor joins the ranks of theater’s crème de la crème

By Tom Alvarez, Examiner.com, August 5, 2014 - Click here for the full article / with images

It is isn’t just anybody that can say that they are one of only 60 actors in the exclusive club that is the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program, but well-known Indianapolis actor Constance Macy can.

July 13 through 20, Macy gathered with nine other actors representing some of the nation’s top regional theaters at Ten Chimneys, the home of Broadway actors Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, located in Genesee Depot, Wis. The late actors loved to mentor young actors and were dedicated to the next generations.

The Fellowship Program, which began in 2009, is sponsored by the Ten Chimneys Foundation. Seeking to continue the Lunt’s tradition of mentorship, the organization preserves and operates the Lunt’s estate as a place where artists can “retreat, rejuvenate and collaborate.” While there, the actors work with a world-renowned master teacher. This year it was Tony and Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce, who is best known for his role as Dr. Niles Crane on the long running NBC hit sitcom “Frasier.”

Macy, who holds a B.A. in theater from IU, is an Equity actor. She has appeared regularly at the Indiana Repertory since 1997, most recently in last season’s “The Game’s Afoot” and “Who Am I This Time.” She also performed with the Phoenix Theatre, ShadowApe Theatre Company, Cardinal Stage Companay in Bloomington, Ind. and others.

IRT artistic director Janet Allen, who nominated Macy for the Fellowship, had this to say about her colleague: "Constance's participation in the Fellows program is a real testament to her talent and her commitment to making art in her hometown—we've all been the happy beneficiaries of that decision, but it's particularly gratifying when national recognition of that commitment comes an artist's way. It gave her the chance to interact deeply with a group of like-minded artists from around the country, in the gorgeous setting of the Lunt Fontanne retreat, and hang out with David Hyde Pierce for a week—that's the kind of gift that doesn't come along too often in any artist's life. Kudos to Connie who came back and jumped right back into work without skipping a beat—among the reasons she is so deserving of this honor."

Recently Examiner.com sat down with Macy at a downtown Indianapolis coffee shop to chat about her recent adventure and its implications for her.

Are you still pinching yourself?

I was pinching myself the whole time I was there. It was just lovely to spend your days working on scenes studies with great actors and at night they took us around to all these great cocktail parties. They are a foundation and they are in the business of raising money to preserve that place and so they would take us to these fancy parties and we would mingle with the folks and we were sort of touted as the best of the best in the country and so it was kind of a rude awakening to come back and have to wait in line at Kroger like everybody else.

What was it like to hang out at Tall Chimneys?

Pretty great. We didn’t stay there, of course. It’s all been restored to exactly the way the Lunts left it. We stayed at this nice hotel but we were never at the hotel because we were always at the estate.

Are all their personal effects still there?

Yes, like in the guest room where Noel Coward used to stay there is this little silver picture frame. It’s like a little locket that opens and sits on the table. It has a picture of the three of them. They were the best of friends and there it is sitting near his bed. And in the Lunt’s bedroom there were like fancy hairbrushes, you know, their things, their stuff.

So what was David Hyde Pierce like?

He was authentic, genuine, no pretense. He was funny in a really dry, quiet way. Someone who always has something funny to say but if you don’t happen to be standing next to him you’ll miss it because he is kind of quiet that way. Genuine and kind and just like anybody we would be friends with.

How was he as a teacher?

He really was great. Very smart. He would come around as we were working on stuff on our own and really get into the moment by moment minutia of it. He’s very specific and very smart.

Tell me about your scene work.

It was a little daunting at first because DHP sent a letter to us and it said, “I want you to choose scenes and monologues and songs you want from plays that either the Lunts performed in or their guests performed in or their guests wrote.” He sent the guest list of all the famous people who stayed there. So the list of plays to choose from was immense and I was really overwhelmed by it. A lot of people went with Noel Coward (one of the Lunt’s closest friends) stuff. I picked “The Visit” by Friedrich Durrenmatt. It was the last play the Lunts did on Broadway. It’s like this bizarro version of “Our Town.” I did it at IU like back in 1987. I also picked the “Lion in Winter” because Rosemary Harris, who won a Tony Award for the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine for it, was a guest at Ten Chimneys and Katherine Hepburn, who was in the film version, was also a guest there. The role of Eleanor is one of those parts which I feel is still in my future. For the scenes I recruited actors at the retreat to do them with me. Everybody just read from scripts. We spent a lot of time reading through things. We did readings in front of guests, which they loved, but I think they would have loved anything we did.

Was everybody supportive?

I was a little intimidated myself going in but that was kind of broken the first night. The first night we all got together and they served us a catered dinner in the Lunts’ dining room, the only time we ate in the house. We bonded quickly.

Did you feel the Lunts’ spirits around you at Ten Chimneys?

Yes. On the days that we had a little time after lunch on our own, I would just wander around the place and pretend I was her (laughs). I totally romanticized about that and I do believe that they are there.

The Fellowship Program experience is supposed to be transformative. Was it?

I do think it was transformative. The one thing it did do for me is that I’m confident that I’m a good actor here in Indiana. One of the goals I set for myself this year was to prove myself on a national level and I did that. I did an audition in New York and I got the job. And I did this fellowship and I was there with people from the Steppenwolf Theatre, the Yale Rep, The Old Globe, the Guthrie, great theaters, you know, and David Hyde Pierce. And I was one of these actors. And they were my peers and my contemporaries. It was also great to be nominated. You have to be in the business for 20 years, so everybody there was about my age (47). So that was pretty cool because we were all actors who had established ourselves in our communities. Coming together initially, everybody felt like they were going to be exposed and feel like somebody who shouldn’t be there. But of course, we were all of us equals.

How would you describe Ten Chimneys’ overall impact on you?

It was very affirming. It’s nice to have affirmation in this business. Particularly when you’ve been in the business for so long. The great thing about being at the Lunts’ house which is so rich with theater lore and the fabulousness of them is recognizing that our business is special. It can become a job like any other job but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s not a job like any other job. It is very special and very glamorous and that’s why we do it. We certainly don’t do it for money. It is very hard and you have to be an actor like the Lunts were. Looking at the pictures of them you notice that they never had any work done. They were not vain. They were the kind of actors who emphasized there flaws with prosthetics. They represented themselves at every age and they were actors until the day they died and that’s inspiring.

What’s next for you?

I’ve jumped into comedy piece that we are putting together a ShadowApe show for the Fringe. It’s a ShadowApe show with Rob and Jen Johansen and it’s called “Jen/Con” and is about fantasy gaming. Gen Con overlaps with Fringe which is pretty great.

Doing anything next season at the IRT?

I’m doing “Good People” at the Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York. It’s a co-production with the IRT that opens here on Jan. 7.

Ultimately, how do you feel about the choices you’ve made as an actor?

I used to wonder, “What if I had gone to New York? Would I have had a better career than I have now?” Particularly in my 30s when I went through sort of a slump. I was too old to be an ingénue and too young to be anything else. I couldn’t get cast. So I went through a bit of blight and wondered if I’d made different choices would it have been different. Since then I’ve kind of decided that being an actor in L.A. or New York is the same as being an actor anywhere else. It’s just harder to live in those larger cities. I work as much as friends my age who live in New York and who are still doing this. So I am glad I chose to live here. I love it here. I have a son, Michael who is ten My husband Rob Koharchik is a set designer and teacher at Butler University. I have a house with a yard. My parents are here, my siblings, and my niece and nephew.

It sounds like you have the best of all possible worlds?

I think I do.

You also don’t ever have to worry again about whether you are a good actor, right?

No, because I am a Lunt/Fontaine fellow (laughs). I feel pretty good about myself, I have to say.

It’s a pretty big deal?

It’s a pretty big deal. Yes. I think the thing I took away was affirmation. I made the right choice in my life. And sticking it out through those bleak years to work at Macy’s Department store was worth it (laughs).

Did you receive any affirmation from DHP himself?

Actually he did. He told me I was an amazing actor when we said our goodbyes.

David Hyde Pierce teaches master class at Ten Chimneys

By Stephanie Graham and Shaun Farrell, Today's TMJ4, July 22, 2014

David Hyde Pierce was in Wisconsin last week to teach a master acting class at Ten Chimneys. The class is part of the 'Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program. We spent some time talking to Hyde Pierce about the class, and what it was like to work on a hit TV show.

Hyde Pierce: "What we're doing, we're exploring the heritage of Ten Chimneys, theatrically. We're looking at the work that the Lunts did, we're looking at the work that their guests here at Ten Chimneys did, because they had a ridiculous guest list of Noel Coward and Katherine Hepburn and Helen Hayes, and Lawrence Olivier. So we're almost embracing whatever happened, or got rehearsed, or thought about in these walls--that's what we're looking at. So we spent the first part of the week just going through Chekhov and Shakespeare, and some of the great lesser known plays the Lunts did."

Hyde Pierce: "We've been having 2 sessions each day, starting Monday. Probably our best session though was Sunday night, which was our first night here, when we got to have dinner in the dining room at the Lunt's table on the Lunts china, using the Lunt's silverware, getting to know each other and having the privilege of being in this incredible place."

Hyde Pierce: "I hope that the actors leave here recharged, and inspired. These are actors who've all had a minimum of 20 years in the business, have devoted their lives to the regional theaters they represent. They're the real deal. So they're at a point in life they can sort of look around and say, 'Where am I? Where have I come, and where am I going?' And I think that's the perfect opportunity, I'm in the same place by the way.. to be reminded of why we do this in the first place, because I think the Lunts never loss track of that--that pure love of imagination and acting."

Hyde Pierce: "What was it like working on 'Frasier'? Well that's an easy question to answer! It was great, it actually is an easy question to answer. We had a blast, 11 years that we were sorry to see end, which is nice to not get to a job and be grateful that it's ending. I'm still in touch with everybody, I saw a bunch of the gang when I was out in la this winter, and yeah.. if I happen on it when it's on TV I always smile, because it reminds me of some very good times."

David Hyde Pierce brings acting chops to Wisconsin

By Erik Bilstad, Newsradio 620 WTMJ, July 18, 2014

Click here to listen to the interview. 

The actor who played one of the most popular sitcom characters of all time is in Wisconsin this week. 

David Hyde Pierce is best known for his role, 'Niles Crane,' on the 90's sitcom Frasier.

"(The show) will always bring a smile to my face," Pierce told me this week.  "It was a great time in my life."

Pierce is the Master Teacher of this year's Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program at Ten Chimneys.  He's spending the week with ten veteran actors from across the country. 

"These are people who are seasoned professionals," he explained.  "They're being rewarded and given the chance to get inspired again."

When I asked him if he is forcing people to call him Master Teacher, Pierce's responded: 

"Just 'Master' is fine."

Local star taking part in prestigious acting program

 

THAT PHILLY-based actor Forrest McClendon is spending this week in Wisconsin is hardly big news. After all, the Land of Beer and Cheese is a popular place for rest and recreation in mid-July. But of the untold numbers of people currently visiting America's Dairyland, McClendon is unique: He is one of only 10 thespians there as part of the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship.

Named for famed early-20th-century stage actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the fellowship is a weeklong master class conducted at Ten Chimneys, the couple's estate in the bucolic town of Genesee Depot.

This year's guest instructor is David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier," "Monty Python's Spamalot").

"It's an actor's boot camp in a lot of ways," McClendon said during a break in the activities, which run through Sunday. "It's a chance for renewal, for rejuvenation for midcareer actors - a chance to ask ourselves how [we] continue growing . . . and how to continue challenging ourselves."

It's also an opportunity for actors to pause and reflect on what they've accomplished and what could come next, he continued.

"It is pretty amazing when somebody recognizes what you tried to do over the course of your life up to this point. That recognition is really special. But on top of that, there's the realization that acting is a grind. We are constantly looking for new work and new opportunities. There aren't a lot of chances for us to just pull away and talk and think about the work itself, and think about our technical skills, if you will."

Furthermore, "It's a chance to hear about what's going on in other [theater] communities, and make contacts at other theaters. I have no doubt other things will grow out of it. And hearing about what's going on in other communities allows me to come back to Philadelphia with ideas about how to be more effective in my community."

McClendon got a 2011 Tony nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Tambo in the musical "The Scottsboro Boys." He also copped a local Barrymore Award for the same role in the version staged by the Philadelphia Theatre Company. But his invitation to participate in this week's program was not the result of one acting job but recognition "for your body of work," he said. "You have to have a minimum of 20 years' experience. That's what I think makes it a really extraordinary opportunity."

The Norwalk, Conn., native was nominated for the honor by the Walnut Street Theatre, where he has performed in "Finian's Rainbow" and "The Maids." It was a no-brainer for Bernard Havard, the Walnut's producing artistic director.

"His unwavering dedication to his craft as an actor was apparent from the start, as he had a collaborative attitude that made him a pleasure to work with, beyond his extraordinary talent," Havard said in an email.

"The Walnut Street Theatre and the Greater Philadelphia [theater] community have truly benefited from such a positive influence, both on and offstage. Forrest shares his vast performance experiences as a teaching artist and mentor. His dedication to the stage, and his community, made him a perfect choice for the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship."

Although he teaches voice to musical theater students at Temple University's Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance, McClendon is an in-demand actor whose next gig is reprising his role as Mr. Tambo in the upcoming debut of "Scottsboro Boys" in London's West End theater district. He'll be there for six months, beginning in early October.

With such an impressive resume, it's clear that McClendon could pitch his professional tent anywhere he pleases, including New York. But the 20-year Philly resident insisted he has no desire - or excuse - to leave Brotherly Loveville.

"It's one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the country, and I get to do great, great work," he enthused. "I don't anticipate going anywhere else. . . . I get to work nationwide. There really is no reason for me to go anywhere else. Philadelphia International Airport can get me anywhere I need to go."

David Hyde Pierce plays role of teacher at Ten Chimneys

Tony-winning star of TV's 'Frasier' taps Lunt-Fontanne legacy

Actor David Hyde Pierce hopes to spend his Wisconsin week doing what his TV alter ego, Dr. Niles Crane, so often hilariously failed to do — make the people around him feel encouraged and recharged.

Pierce is this year's master teacher for the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program at Ten Chimneys, the former home of Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in western Waukesha County, now a museum and theater education center. He's working with 10 experienced regional theater actors, including Milwaukee's Angela Iannone.

Pierce won four Emmys for portraying Niles, the neurotic brother of Kelsey Grammer's title character on "Frasier." But his stellar career also includes Broadway — he won a Tony for playing a theater-loving detective in the musical "Curtains."

His connection to the famed Wisconsin couple: Pierce acted with Uta Hagen, who performed with Lunt and Fontanne in "The Seagull."

"We're exploring the heritage of Ten Chimneys," the soft-spoken actor said. "We're looking at the work the Lunts did, we're looking at the work that any of their guests here at Ten Chimneys did, because they had a ridiculous guest list — Noel Coward, Katharine Hepburn, Helen Hayes, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh."

Earlier Wednesday, that meant working on Coward's play "Private Lives" as well as "The Man Who Came to Dinner," by another Ten Chimneys guest, George S. Kaufman. They're also digging into Chekhov, Shakespeare and Jean Giraudoux's "Amphitryon 38."

And they played volleyball. "We set up a line of chairs, played outside and tried not to hurt anything that's valuable, including the actors," he said.

"I hope that the actors leave here recharged and inspired," Pierce said. "These are actors who have devoted their lives to the various regional theaters they represent. They are what I would call the real deal."

"He's very, very gentle. He's very, very respectful," Iannone said of Pierce. "He has some marvelous stories that, rather than giving you a direct and sometimes cold direction, he will tell this story about a situation that matches the one that you're in right now..."

What brings David Hyde Pierce and other actors to visit Ten Chimneys?

By Gino Salomone, Fox6 News, July 15, 2014

David Hyde Pierce shares his theatrical experience and wisdom at Ten Chimneys

By Michael Muckian, Contributing writer, The Wisconsin Gazette, July 10, 2014

Click here to read the article via The Wisconsin Gazette.

Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce is coming to Ten Chimneys.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, David Hyde Pierce’s path toward acting began when he was 6 or 7 years old and living in his hometown of Saratoga Springs, New York. 

It was a performance of George Balanchine’s ballet version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, danced to the music of Felix Mendelssohn, that captured the boy’s attention. The music, the movement and the characters — ranging from a wood nymph to a man transformed into a donkey — all captivated young Pierce.

“If there was an ‘aha’ moment that started it all, that was it,” says Pierce, now 55. “In fact, I just attended a New York City Ballet revival of the work for that reason.”

Since studying acting at Yale, Pierce’s acting career has flourished, with roles in film, television and onstage, including in his Tony Award-winning role in the Broadway musical detective comedy Curtains. Hyde has also been successful as a voice-over actor.

From July 13–20, Pierce will share his talents and experience with 10 fellow actors — top regional theater performers from nine different states — as master teacher for this year’s Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship program at Ten Chimneys, the former summer home of celebrated Broadway thespians Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in Genesee Depot, just west of Waukesha.

“Why was I chosen as master teacher? Because everyone else was busy,” quips Pierce, best known as Dr. Niles Crane, the fidgety younger brother of Kelsey Grammer in the hit television comedy series Frasier. Pierce was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards for the role and won four.

“Seriously, (former Ten Chimneys president and CEO) Sean Malone and I had been talking about this for several years, but I was always booked. (Current president and CEO) Randy Bryant was persistent and convinced me this would be a good idea.”

From 1928 until their retirement in 1960, Lunt and Fontanne, known collectively as “the Lunts,” were Broadway’s reigning royalty. They counted among their closest friends the most influential luminaries of their era, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier and Helen Hayes, as well as playwrights Noel Coward and Robert Sherwood.

The Lunts’ career focused almost exclusively on the stage, and during the height of their fame, they only performed together. 

In 1913, Lunt received an inheritance that he used to purchase the Genesee Depot land on which his family formerly picnicked. There, he built Ten Chimneys. The estate consists of an 18-room main house, a cottage and a Swedish-style log cabin. The three buildings actually do have 10 chimneys among them.

From 1932 on, the Lunts spent their summers living and entertaining their famous friends in the main house, where impromptu actors’ workshops were part of the regular proceedings.

That legacy is carried over annually for the eight to 10 actors selected to participate in the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship, which this year includes the Milwaukee Rep’s Angela Iannone. The eight-day immersion program is built around two three-hour classes each day in various rooms on the estate and in the modern facilities of the program center.

Master teachers in the 6-year-old program have each focused on various acting techniques. Alan Alda’s 2013 focus was on improvisation, and Joel Grey’s 2012 emphasis was on musical theater. Pierce plans to have his students examine the legacy of the Lunts.

“I have been immersing myself in the Lunts and all the talented guests that at one time or other visited the estate,” Pierce says. “I want us to get in touch with the roots of all that and look at the plays for which the Lunts were famous or works written by their more literary guests. Call it ‘Six Degrees of Ten Chimneys.’”

Pierce can trace his own degree of separation from the Lunts. In 2001, he performed in a Los Angeles production of Richard Alfieri’s Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite the late Uta Hagen, a Ten Chimneys regular who in some ways was discovered by the Lunts, Pierce says.

“Uta played Nina in the Lunts’ production of Chekov’s The Seagull, and they took her under their wing,” Pierce says. “Uta, in turn, absorbed the Lunts’ incredible work ethic and devotion to the theater. Because I got the chance to work with her, I benefited from that legacy.”

The Lunts perfected some of their own acting techniques at Ten Chimneys, including their habit of overlapping dialogue with each other — a technique unknown during their day but one that’s used commonly now to make performances feel more authentic. The technique is challenging. Its seeming effortlessness requires strict calibration in order to move the play forward in an orderly fashion.

There are other techniques that the pair developed when working together.

“In order to memorize lines, they would sit opposite each other in chairs, recite the play to each other and, when one blew a line, the other one would bang their knees together and make them start again,” Pierce says. “I don’t think I will be doing that, since it often resulted in black-and-blue knees, but it certainly is a jumping-off point to talk about memorization.”

The one thing Pierce says he doesn’t plan to do is play teacher to the attending fellow, many of whom have more than 20 years of theatrical experience.

“This is not meant to be work for the fellows,” Pierce says. “It’s meant to be a reward and a celebration for the work they have done. It’s a chance to learn from each and that applies to each of us equally.

“My approach has always been to put myself with the best people,” he adds. “Then, no matter what happens, I know it will have been worth the time.”

Fans of David Hyde Pierce and local theater buffs will have the chance to hear him share stories of his life in the theater at 8 p.m. on July 18 at Ten Chimneys. Ticket prices range from $40 to $150. On the following evening — July 19 — Hyde Pierce and the 10 actors participating with him in this year’s Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship program at Ten Chimneys will take the stage to demonstrate some of the acting techniques explored during their week together at Ten Chimneys. Call 262-968-4110 for reservations. For more information, visit www.tenchimneys.org.

Actress Dale Hodges Keeps “Hanging in There”

By Rick Pender, CityBeat, July 9th, 2014

Click here to read the article via CityBeat.

While the rest of us kick back during a lazy summer, Cincinnati-based actress Dale Hodges is at work honing her craft. That might surprise some local theatergoers, who already think of her as one of our region’s best theater professionals; if Hodges is onstage with a Cincinnati theater, it’s a sure bet that audiences will show up to watch. But she’s not above learning how to be even better. 

From July 13-20, Hodges will join nine other veteran regional actors in Wisconsin for the 2014 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program. They’ll be led by actor David Hyde Pierce in a weeklong master class and immersion experience at Ten Chimneys, the historic estate of theater legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. (One of Hodges’ fellow actors will be Angel Desai, whom Cincinnati Playhouse audiences might recall as spunky Marta in its 2006 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, a production that went on to a Tony Award-winning Broadway run.)

“What a gift this is — a chance to retreat and recharge, to connect with and learn from a diverse group of accomplished actors, and to remind ourselves, through Alfred and Lynn, of the theatrical lineage we all share,” Hyde Pierce says, describing the week in Wisconsin on the Ten Chimney’s website. The program, established in 2009, annually brings top regional actors from across America to Ten Chimneys together with a renowned master teacher such as 2009’s Lynn Redgrave and 2013’s Alan Alda. 

I interviewed Hodges in 2002 when the League of Cincinnati Theatres inducted her into its Hall of Fame. She told me she’d much prefer to be earning an “I Hung in There” award. That’s precisely what she has continued to do.

Since settling here in 1988, she’s been a regular on local stages.

Cincinnati Playhouse audiences know her from numerous productions of A Christmas Carol as well as shows as varied as The Piano Teacher, Witness for the Prosecution, The Retreat from Moscow, The Crucible, Ten Little Indians, The Importance of Being Earnest, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Equus. Whether it’s comedy (she was a hilarious Indian in The Fantasticks in 2010) or drama (as the poignant Fool in King Lear in 2001), she excels. Among her most memorable performances is the imperious academic, Dr. Vivian Bearing, a scholar with expertise in the complex sonnets of poet John Donne who must face her own mortality, in the Playhouse’s 2000 production of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Wit.

At Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Hodges has appeared in shows including 33 Variations, Grey Gardens, Bed Among the Lentils, Seascape and, recently, Mrs. Mannerly. For Cincinnati Shakespeare Company she played the drug-addicted Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, as well as an array of Shakespearean roles. She’s worked with Cincinnati Opera and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Born in England, Hodges did some theater as a teenager, but it was three years with an amateur dramatic group in South Africa that led her toward a career onstage. She returned to England for three years at a London drama school then came to the United States in 1971. 

She found work in New York City and joined the professional union, Actors’ Equity. In 1974, she and her American husband relocated to Cincinnati for a few years while he attended school. When the marriage ended, she returned to New York with her young son, Hugh, who was born in Cincinnati. Life as a single mom presented challenges for the young actress, but Hodges flourished, finding supporting roles and understudying assignments that fit her lifestyle; she loved New York City. But it wasn’t forever: “I knew I didn’t want to grow old in New York,” she says. After a seven-year courtship, she married David Logan, an old acquaintance from Cincinnati, and moved here permanently. 

Hodges is something of an activist, although she doesn’t see herself as political in the common sense of the term. But she believes that keeping people’s imaginations alive is a political act. 

“Live theater,” she says, “has a greater capacity to do that than other art forms, perhaps because of the collusion between performer and audience.”

In 2002 Hodges was grateful for her career — and eager for more. She has constantly sought the chance to make her performing “more human, more universal, easier to understand.” Back in 2002, she told me, “All I want to do is work.” And work she has. So she’s off to Wisconsin to learn about being even better. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

The 2014 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program - In The News

Local actor joins the ranks of theater’s crème de la crème

By Tom Alvarez, Examiner.com, August 5, 2014 - Click here for the full article / with images

It is isn’t just anybody that can say that they are one of only 60 actors in the exclusive club that is the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program, but well-known Indianapolis actor Constance Macy can.

July 13 through 20, Macy gathered with nine other actors representing some of the nation’s top regional theaters at Ten Chimneys, the home of Broadway actors Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, located in Genesee Depot, Wis. The late actors loved to mentor young actors and were dedicated to the next generations.

The Fellowship Program, which began in 2009, is sponsored by the Ten Chimneys Foundation. Seeking to continue the Lunt’s tradition of mentorship, the organization preserves and operates the Lunt’s estate as a place where artists can “retreat, rejuvenate and collaborate.” While there, the actors work with a world-renowned master teacher. This year it was Tony and Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce, who is best known for his role as Dr. Niles Crane on the long running NBC hit sitcom “Frasier.”

Macy, who holds a B.A. in theater from IU, is an Equity actor. She has appeared regularly at the Indiana Repertory since 1997, most recently in last season’s “The Game’s Afoot” and “Who Am I This Time.” She also performed with the Phoenix Theatre, ShadowApe Theatre Company, Cardinal Stage Companay in Bloomington, Ind. and others.

IRT artistic director Janet Allen, who nominated Macy for the Fellowship, had this to say about her colleague: "Constance's participation in the Fellows program is a real testament to her talent and her commitment to making art in her hometown—we've all been the happy beneficiaries of that decision, but it's particularly gratifying when national recognition of that commitment comes an artist's way. It gave her the chance to interact deeply with a group of like-minded artists from around the country, in the gorgeous setting of the Lunt Fontanne retreat, and hang out with David Hyde Pierce for a week—that's the kind of gift that doesn't come along too often in any artist's life. Kudos to Connie who came back and jumped right back into work without skipping a beat—among the reasons she is so deserving of this honor."

Recently Examiner.com sat down with Macy at a downtown Indianapolis coffee shop to chat about her recent adventure and its implications for her.

Are you still pinching yourself?

I was pinching myself the whole time I was there. It was just lovely to spend your days working on scenes studies with great actors and at night they took us around to all these great cocktail parties. They are a foundation and they are in the business of raising money to preserve that place and so they would take us to these fancy parties and we would mingle with the folks and we were sort of touted as the best of the best in the country and so it was kind of a rude awakening to come back and have to wait in line at Kroger like everybody else.

What was it like to hang out at Tall Chimneys?

Pretty great. We didn’t stay there, of course. It’s all been restored to exactly the way the Lunts left it. We stayed at this nice hotel but we were never at the hotel because we were always at the estate.

Are all their personal effects still there?

Yes, like in the guest room where Noel Coward used to stay there is this little silver picture frame. It’s like a little locket that opens and sits on the table. It has a picture of the three of them. They were the best of friends and there it is sitting near his bed. And in the Lunt’s bedroom there were like fancy hairbrushes, you know, their things, their stuff.

So what was David Hyde Pierce like?

He was authentic, genuine, no pretense. He was funny in a really dry, quiet way. Someone who always has something funny to say but if you don’t happen to be standing next to him you’ll miss it because he is kind of quiet that way. Genuine and kind and just like anybody we would be friends with.

How was he as a teacher?

He really was great. Very smart. He would come around as we were working on stuff on our own and really get into the moment by moment minutia of it. He’s very specific and very smart.

Tell me about your scene work.

It was a little daunting at first because DHP sent a letter to us and it said, “I want you to choose scenes and monologues and songs you want from plays that either the Lunts performed in or their guests performed in or their guests wrote.” He sent the guest list of all the famous people who stayed there. So the list of plays to choose from was immense and I was really overwhelmed by it. A lot of people went with Noel Coward (one of the Lunt’s closest friends) stuff. I picked “The Visit” by Friedrich Durrenmatt. It was the last play the Lunts did on Broadway. It’s like this bizarro version of “Our Town.” I did it at IU like back in 1987. I also picked the “Lion in Winter” because Rosemary Harris, who won a Tony Award for the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine for it, was a guest at Ten Chimneys and Katherine Hepburn, who was in the film version, was also a guest there. The role of Eleanor is one of those parts which I feel is still in my future. For the scenes I recruited actors at the retreat to do them with me. Everybody just read from scripts. We spent a lot of time reading through things. We did readings in front of guests, which they loved, but I think they would have loved anything we did.

Was everybody supportive?

I was a little intimidated myself going in but that was kind of broken the first night. The first night we all got together and they served us a catered dinner in the Lunts’ dining room, the only time we ate in the house. We bonded quickly.

Did you feel the Lunts’ spirits around you at Ten Chimneys?

Yes. On the days that we had a little time after lunch on our own, I would just wander around the place and pretend I was her (laughs). I totally romanticized about that and I do believe that they are there.

The Fellowship Program experience is supposed to be transformative. Was it?

I do think it was transformative. The one thing it did do for me is that I’m confident that I’m a good actor here in Indiana. One of the goals I set for myself this year was to prove myself on a national level and I did that. I did an audition in New York and I got the job. And I did this fellowship and I was there with people from the Steppenwolf Theatre, the Yale Rep, The Old Globe, the Guthrie, great theaters, you know, and David Hyde Pierce. And I was one of these actors. And they were my peers and my contemporaries. It was also great to be nominated. You have to be in the business for 20 years, so everybody there was about my age (47). So that was pretty cool because we were all actors who had established ourselves in our communities. Coming together initially, everybody felt like they were going to be exposed and feel like somebody who shouldn’t be there. But of course, we were all of us equals.

How would you describe Ten Chimneys’ overall impact on you?

It was very affirming. It’s nice to have affirmation in this business. Particularly when you’ve been in the business for so long. The great thing about being at the Lunts’ house which is so rich with theater lore and the fabulousness of them is recognizing that our business is special. It can become a job like any other job but it’s nice to be reminded that it’s not a job like any other job. It is very special and very glamorous and that’s why we do it. We certainly don’t do it for money. It is very hard and you have to be an actor like the Lunts were. Looking at the pictures of them you notice that they never had any work done. They were not vain. They were the kind of actors who emphasized there flaws with prosthetics. They represented themselves at every age and they were actors until the day they died and that’s inspiring.

What’s next for you?

I’ve jumped into comedy piece that we are putting together a ShadowApe show for the Fringe. It’s a ShadowApe show with Rob and Jen Johansen and it’s called “Jen/Con” and is about fantasy gaming. Gen Con overlaps with Fringe which is pretty great.

Doing anything next season at the IRT?

I’m doing “Good People” at the Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York. It’s a co-production with the IRT that opens here on Jan. 7.

Ultimately, how do you feel about the choices you’ve made as an actor?

I used to wonder, “What if I had gone to New York? Would I have had a better career than I have now?” Particularly in my 30s when I went through sort of a slump. I was too old to be an ingénue and too young to be anything else. I couldn’t get cast. So I went through a bit of blight and wondered if I’d made different choices would it have been different. Since then I’ve kind of decided that being an actor in L.A. or New York is the same as being an actor anywhere else. It’s just harder to live in those larger cities. I work as much as friends my age who live in New York and who are still doing this. So I am glad I chose to live here. I love it here. I have a son, Michael who is ten My husband Rob Koharchik is a set designer and teacher at Butler University. I have a house with a yard. My parents are here, my siblings, and my niece and nephew.

It sounds like you have the best of all possible worlds?

I think I do.

You also don’t ever have to worry again about whether you are a good actor, right?

No, because I am a Lunt/Fontaine fellow (laughs). I feel pretty good about myself, I have to say.

It’s a pretty big deal?

It’s a pretty big deal. Yes. I think the thing I took away was affirmation. I made the right choice in my life. And sticking it out through those bleak years to work at Macy’s Department store was worth it (laughs).

Did you receive any affirmation from DHP himself?

Actually he did. He told me I was an amazing actor when we said our goodbyes.

David Hyde Pierce teaches master class at Ten Chimneys

By Stephanie Graham and Shaun Farrell, Today's TMJ4, July 22, 2014

David Hyde Pierce was in Wisconsin last week to teach a master acting class at Ten Chimneys. The class is part of the 'Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program. We spent some time talking to Hyde Pierce about the class, and what it was like to work on a hit TV show.

Hyde Pierce: "What we're doing, we're exploring the heritage of Ten Chimneys, theatrically. We're looking at the work that the Lunts did, we're looking at the work that their guests here at Ten Chimneys did, because they had a ridiculous guest list of Noel Coward and Katherine Hepburn and Helen Hayes, and Lawrence Olivier. So we're almost embracing whatever happened, or got rehearsed, or thought about in these walls--that's what we're looking at. So we spent the first part of the week just going through Chekhov and Shakespeare, and some of the great lesser known plays the Lunts did."

Hyde Pierce: "We've been having 2 sessions each day, starting Monday. Probably our best session though was Sunday night, which was our first night here, when we got to have dinner in the dining room at the Lunt's table on the Lunts china, using the Lunt's silverware, getting to know each other and having the privilege of being in this incredible place."

Hyde Pierce: "I hope that the actors leave here recharged, and inspired. These are actors who've all had a minimum of 20 years in the business, have devoted their lives to the regional theaters they represent. They're the real deal. So they're at a point in life they can sort of look around and say, 'Where am I? Where have I come, and where am I going?' And I think that's the perfect opportunity, I'm in the same place by the way.. to be reminded of why we do this in the first place, because I think the Lunts never loss track of that--that pure love of imagination and acting."

Hyde Pierce: "What was it like working on 'Frasier'? Well that's an easy question to answer! It was great, it actually is an easy question to answer. We had a blast, 11 years that we were sorry to see end, which is nice to not get to a job and be grateful that it's ending. I'm still in touch with everybody, I saw a bunch of the gang when I was out in la this winter, and yeah.. if I happen on it when it's on TV I always smile, because it reminds me of some very good times."

David Hyde Pierce brings acting chops to Wisconsin

By Erik Bilstad, Newsradio 620 WTMJ, July 18, 2014

Click here to listen to the interview. 

The actor who played one of the most popular sitcom characters of all time is in Wisconsin this week. 

David Hyde Pierce is best known for his role, 'Niles Crane,' on the 90's sitcom Frasier.

"(The show) will always bring a smile to my face," Pierce told me this week.  "It was a great time in my life."

Pierce is the Master Teacher of this year's Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program at Ten Chimneys.  He's spending the week with ten veteran actors from across the country. 

"These are people who are seasoned professionals," he explained.  "They're being rewarded and given the chance to get inspired again."

When I asked him if he is forcing people to call him Master Teacher, Pierce's responded: 

"Just 'Master' is fine."

Local star taking part in prestigious acting program

 

THAT PHILLY-based actor Forrest McClendon is spending this week in Wisconsin is hardly big news. After all, the Land of Beer and Cheese is a popular place for rest and recreation in mid-July. But of the untold numbers of people currently visiting America's Dairyland, McClendon is unique: He is one of only 10 thespians there as part of the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship.

Named for famed early-20th-century stage actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the fellowship is a weeklong master class conducted at Ten Chimneys, the couple's estate in the bucolic town of Genesee Depot.

This year's guest instructor is David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier," "Monty Python's Spamalot").

"It's an actor's boot camp in a lot of ways," McClendon said during a break in the activities, which run through Sunday. "It's a chance for renewal, for rejuvenation for midcareer actors - a chance to ask ourselves how [we] continue growing . . . and how to continue challenging ourselves."

It's also an opportunity for actors to pause and reflect on what they've accomplished and what could come next, he continued.

"It is pretty amazing when somebody recognizes what you tried to do over the course of your life up to this point. That recognition is really special. But on top of that, there's the realization that acting is a grind. We are constantly looking for new work and new opportunities. There aren't a lot of chances for us to just pull away and talk and think about the work itself, and think about our technical skills, if you will."

Furthermore, "It's a chance to hear about what's going on in other [theater] communities, and make contacts at other theaters. I have no doubt other things will grow out of it. And hearing about what's going on in other communities allows me to come back to Philadelphia with ideas about how to be more effective in my community."

McClendon got a 2011 Tony nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Tambo in the musical "The Scottsboro Boys." He also copped a local Barrymore Award for the same role in the version staged by the Philadelphia Theatre Company. But his invitation to participate in this week's program was not the result of one acting job but recognition "for your body of work," he said. "You have to have a minimum of 20 years' experience. That's what I think makes it a really extraordinary opportunity."

The Norwalk, Conn., native was nominated for the honor by the Walnut Street Theatre, where he has performed in "Finian's Rainbow" and "The Maids." It was a no-brainer for Bernard Havard, the Walnut's producing artistic director.

"His unwavering dedication to his craft as an actor was apparent from the start, as he had a collaborative attitude that made him a pleasure to work with, beyond his extraordinary talent," Havard said in an email.

"The Walnut Street Theatre and the Greater Philadelphia [theater] community have truly benefited from such a positive influence, both on and offstage. Forrest shares his vast performance experiences as a teaching artist and mentor. His dedication to the stage, and his community, made him a perfect choice for the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship."

Although he teaches voice to musical theater students at Temple University's Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance, McClendon is an in-demand actor whose next gig is reprising his role as Mr. Tambo in the upcoming debut of "Scottsboro Boys" in London's West End theater district. He'll be there for six months, beginning in early October.

With such an impressive resume, it's clear that McClendon could pitch his professional tent anywhere he pleases, including New York. But the 20-year Philly resident insisted he has no desire - or excuse - to leave Brotherly Loveville.

"It's one of the most vibrant and diverse communities in the country, and I get to do great, great work," he enthused. "I don't anticipate going anywhere else. . . . I get to work nationwide. There really is no reason for me to go anywhere else. Philadelphia International Airport can get me anywhere I need to go."

David Hyde Pierce plays role of teacher at Ten Chimneys

Tony-winning star of TV's 'Frasier' taps Lunt-Fontanne legacy

Actor David Hyde Pierce hopes to spend his Wisconsin week doing what his TV alter ego, Dr. Niles Crane, so often hilariously failed to do — make the people around him feel encouraged and recharged.

Pierce is this year's master teacher for the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program at Ten Chimneys, the former home of Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in western Waukesha County, now a museum and theater education center. He's working with 10 experienced regional theater actors, including Milwaukee's Angela Iannone.

Pierce won four Emmys for portraying Niles, the neurotic brother of Kelsey Grammer's title character on "Frasier." But his stellar career also includes Broadway — he won a Tony for playing a theater-loving detective in the musical "Curtains."

His connection to the famed Wisconsin couple: Pierce acted with Uta Hagen, who performed with Lunt and Fontanne in "The Seagull."

"We're exploring the heritage of Ten Chimneys," the soft-spoken actor said. "We're looking at the work the Lunts did, we're looking at the work that any of their guests here at Ten Chimneys did, because they had a ridiculous guest list — Noel Coward, Katharine Hepburn, Helen Hayes, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh."

Earlier Wednesday, that meant working on Coward's play "Private Lives" as well as "The Man Who Came to Dinner," by another Ten Chimneys guest, George S. Kaufman. They're also digging into Chekhov, Shakespeare and Jean Giraudoux's "Amphitryon 38."

And they played volleyball. "We set up a line of chairs, played outside and tried not to hurt anything that's valuable, including the actors," he said.

"I hope that the actors leave here recharged and inspired," Pierce said. "These are actors who have devoted their lives to the various regional theaters they represent. They are what I would call the real deal."

"He's very, very gentle. He's very, very respectful," Iannone said of Pierce. "He has some marvelous stories that, rather than giving you a direct and sometimes cold direction, he will tell this story about a situation that matches the one that you're in right now..."

What brings David Hyde Pierce and other actors to visit Ten Chimneys?

By Gino Salomone, Fox6 News, July 15, 2014

David Hyde Pierce shares his theatrical experience and wisdom at Ten Chimneys

By Michael Muckian, Contributing writer, The Wisconsin Gazette, July 10, 2014

Click here to read the article via The Wisconsin Gazette.

Tony- and Emmy Award-winning actor David Hyde Pierce is coming to Ten Chimneys.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, David Hyde Pierce’s path toward acting began when he was 6 or 7 years old and living in his hometown of Saratoga Springs, New York. 

It was a performance of George Balanchine’s ballet version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, danced to the music of Felix Mendelssohn, that captured the boy’s attention. The music, the movement and the characters — ranging from a wood nymph to a man transformed into a donkey — all captivated young Pierce.

“If there was an ‘aha’ moment that started it all, that was it,” says Pierce, now 55. “In fact, I just attended a New York City Ballet revival of the work for that reason.”

Since studying acting at Yale, Pierce’s acting career has flourished, with roles in film, television and onstage, including in his Tony Award-winning role in the Broadway musical detective comedy Curtains. Hyde has also been successful as a voice-over actor.

From July 13–20, Pierce will share his talents and experience with 10 fellow actors — top regional theater performers from nine different states — as master teacher for this year’s Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship program at Ten Chimneys, the former summer home of celebrated Broadway thespians Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in Genesee Depot, just west of Waukesha.

“Why was I chosen as master teacher? Because everyone else was busy,” quips Pierce, best known as Dr. Niles Crane, the fidgety younger brother of Kelsey Grammer in the hit television comedy series Frasier. Pierce was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards for the role and won four.

“Seriously, (former Ten Chimneys president and CEO) Sean Malone and I had been talking about this for several years, but I was always booked. (Current president and CEO) Randy Bryant was persistent and convinced me this would be a good idea.”

From 1928 until their retirement in 1960, Lunt and Fontanne, known collectively as “the Lunts,” were Broadway’s reigning royalty. They counted among their closest friends the most influential luminaries of their era, including Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier and Helen Hayes, as well as playwrights Noel Coward and Robert Sherwood.

The Lunts’ career focused almost exclusively on the stage, and during the height of their fame, they only performed together. 

In 1913, Lunt received an inheritance that he used to purchase the Genesee Depot land on which his family formerly picnicked. There, he built Ten Chimneys. The estate consists of an 18-room main house, a cottage and a Swedish-style log cabin. The three buildings actually do have 10 chimneys among them.

From 1932 on, the Lunts spent their summers living and entertaining their famous friends in the main house, where impromptu actors’ workshops were part of the regular proceedings.

That legacy is carried over annually for the eight to 10 actors selected to participate in the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship, which this year includes the Milwaukee Rep’s Angela Iannone. The eight-day immersion program is built around two three-hour classes each day in various rooms on the estate and in the modern facilities of the program center.

Master teachers in the 6-year-old program have each focused on various acting techniques. Alan Alda’s 2013 focus was on improvisation, and Joel Grey’s 2012 emphasis was on musical theater. Pierce plans to have his students examine the legacy of the Lunts.

“I have been immersing myself in the Lunts and all the talented guests that at one time or other visited the estate,” Pierce says. “I want us to get in touch with the roots of all that and look at the plays for which the Lunts were famous or works written by their more literary guests. Call it ‘Six Degrees of Ten Chimneys.’”

Pierce can trace his own degree of separation from the Lunts. In 2001, he performed in a Los Angeles production of Richard Alfieri’s Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite the late Uta Hagen, a Ten Chimneys regular who in some ways was discovered by the Lunts, Pierce says.

“Uta played Nina in the Lunts’ production of Chekov’s The Seagull, and they took her under their wing,” Pierce says. “Uta, in turn, absorbed the Lunts’ incredible work ethic and devotion to the theater. Because I got the chance to work with her, I benefited from that legacy.”

The Lunts perfected some of their own acting techniques at Ten Chimneys, including their habit of overlapping dialogue with each other — a technique unknown during their day but one that’s used commonly now to make performances feel more authentic. The technique is challenging. Its seeming effortlessness requires strict calibration in order to move the play forward in an orderly fashion.

There are other techniques that the pair developed when working together.

“In order to memorize lines, they would sit opposite each other in chairs, recite the play to each other and, when one blew a line, the other one would bang their knees together and make them start again,” Pierce says. “I don’t think I will be doing that, since it often resulted in black-and-blue knees, but it certainly is a jumping-off point to talk about memorization.”

The one thing Pierce says he doesn’t plan to do is play teacher to the attending fellow, many of whom have more than 20 years of theatrical experience.

“This is not meant to be work for the fellows,” Pierce says. “It’s meant to be a reward and a celebration for the work they have done. It’s a chance to learn from each and that applies to each of us equally.

“My approach has always been to put myself with the best people,” he adds. “Then, no matter what happens, I know it will have been worth the time.”

Fans of David Hyde Pierce and local theater buffs will have the chance to hear him share stories of his life in the theater at 8 p.m. on July 18 at Ten Chimneys. Ticket prices range from $40 to $150. On the following evening — July 19 — Hyde Pierce and the 10 actors participating with him in this year’s Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship program at Ten Chimneys will take the stage to demonstrate some of the acting techniques explored during their week together at Ten Chimneys. Call 262-968-4110 for reservations. For more information, visit www.tenchimneys.org.

Actress Dale Hodges Keeps “Hanging in There”

By Rick Pender, CityBeat, July 9th, 2014

Click here to read the article via CityBeat.

While the rest of us kick back during a lazy summer, Cincinnati-based actress Dale Hodges is at work honing her craft. That might surprise some local theatergoers, who already think of her as one of our region’s best theater professionals; if Hodges is onstage with a Cincinnati theater, it’s a sure bet that audiences will show up to watch. But she’s not above learning how to be even better. 

From July 13-20, Hodges will join nine other veteran regional actors in Wisconsin for the 2014 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program. They’ll be led by actor David Hyde Pierce in a weeklong master class and immersion experience at Ten Chimneys, the historic estate of theater legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. (One of Hodges’ fellow actors will be Angel Desai, whom Cincinnati Playhouse audiences might recall as spunky Marta in its 2006 revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, a production that went on to a Tony Award-winning Broadway run.)

“What a gift this is — a chance to retreat and recharge, to connect with and learn from a diverse group of accomplished actors, and to remind ourselves, through Alfred and Lynn, of the theatrical lineage we all share,” Hyde Pierce says, describing the week in Wisconsin on the Ten Chimney’s website. The program, established in 2009, annually brings top regional actors from across America to Ten Chimneys together with a renowned master teacher such as 2009’s Lynn Redgrave and 2013’s Alan Alda. 

I interviewed Hodges in 2002 when the League of Cincinnati Theatres inducted her into its Hall of Fame. She told me she’d much prefer to be earning an “I Hung in There” award. That’s precisely what she has continued to do.

Since settling here in 1988, she’s been a regular on local stages.

Cincinnati Playhouse audiences know her from numerous productions of A Christmas Carol as well as shows as varied as The Piano Teacher, Witness for the Prosecution, The Retreat from Moscow, The Crucible, Ten Little Indians, The Importance of Being Earnest, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Equus. Whether it’s comedy (she was a hilarious Indian in The Fantasticks in 2010) or drama (as the poignant Fool in King Lear in 2001), she excels. Among her most memorable performances is the imperious academic, Dr. Vivian Bearing, a scholar with expertise in the complex sonnets of poet John Donne who must face her own mortality, in the Playhouse’s 2000 production of Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Wit.

At Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Hodges has appeared in shows including 33 Variations, Grey Gardens, Bed Among the Lentils, Seascape and, recently, Mrs. Mannerly. For Cincinnati Shakespeare Company she played the drug-addicted Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, as well as an array of Shakespearean roles. She’s worked with Cincinnati Opera and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Born in England, Hodges did some theater as a teenager, but it was three years with an amateur dramatic group in South Africa that led her toward a career onstage. She returned to England for three years at a London drama school then came to the United States in 1971. 

She found work in New York City and joined the professional union, Actors’ Equity. In 1974, she and her American husband relocated to Cincinnati for a few years while he attended school. When the marriage ended, she returned to New York with her young son, Hugh, who was born in Cincinnati. Life as a single mom presented challenges for the young actress, but Hodges flourished, finding supporting roles and understudying assignments that fit her lifestyle; she loved New York City. But it wasn’t forever: “I knew I didn’t want to grow old in New York,” she says. After a seven-year courtship, she married David Logan, an old acquaintance from Cincinnati, and moved here permanently. 

Hodges is something of an activist, although she doesn’t see herself as political in the common sense of the term. But she believes that keeping people’s imaginations alive is a political act. 

“Live theater,” she says, “has a greater capacity to do that than other art forms, perhaps because of the collusion between performer and audience.”

In 2002 Hodges was grateful for her career — and eager for more. She has constantly sought the chance to make her performing “more human, more universal, easier to understand.” Back in 2002, she told me, “All I want to do is work.” And work she has. So she’s off to Wisconsin to learn about being even better. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

What is Ten Chimneys?

Ten Chimneys, the estate lovingly created by theatre legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, is open to the public as a world-class house museum with a progressive mission to serve the arts.

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PO Box 225, Genesee Depot 53127
S43 W31575 Depot Road
Genesee Depot, WI 53127

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