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Wednesday, February 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Shirley Valentine’ A Reddy-Made Role

Helen “Delta Dawn” Reddy? In a one-woman, non-musical stage play?

This isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. First of all, the play’s theme can be summed up in six famous words written by Reddy herself:

I am woman, hear me roar.

“Shirley Valentine” is one of the best-known woman-power plays of the last two decades. While it is not strictly a “feminist” play, it does celebrate the power of one bored and depressed British housewife to change her life for the better. Her new life comes complete with romance on a Grecian isle. It was made into a hit movie in 1989.

But there’s another reason Helen Reddy and “Shirley Valentine” make perfect sense together. Reddy has a long and impressive background as a stage actress.

In fact, Reddy just concluded a starring role in one of London’s most popular stage musicals, “Blood Brothers,” by Willy Russell, who also happens to be the author of “Shirley Valentine.” She had appeared earlier in the Broadway version of “Blood Brothers.”

This is only the latest in a stage career that started at age 4, when she performed at the Tivoli Theatre in Perth, Australia. She came from a show business family and by the time she was 15 she was touring with a traveling company throughout rural Australia. She sang and performed in skits.

She gradually became one of Australia’s best-known performers, and by the time she was 24 she had her own TV show.

She moved to the United States soon after, seeking broader fame. She found it in 1971 with her version of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” A year later, she had a No. 1 song with “I Am Woman,” which she wrote. She won a Grammy for Song of the Year.

Her recording career remained strong through most of the 1970s. She had her own summer show on NBC, and two more No. 1 hits with “Delta Dawn” and “Angie Baby” as well as another woman-power anthem hit, “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.” She also starred in the Disney movie “Pete’s Dragon.”

By the mid-1980s, her recording career had wound down and she was already seeking out other pursuits.

“I certainly don’t have the interest in music I once had,” she told a Billboard reporter in the ‘80s. “I’ll always sing, but I would like that to become a smaller part of my life.”

She served three years as a commissioner of parks and recreation for the state of California, where she now lives. She also has done numerous stage musicals, including “Anything Goes” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

With “Shirley Valentine,” she is returning to her youthful days of touring the small towns. Besides Spokane, Walla Walla and Sandpoint, she is also hitting Florence, Ore., Roseburg, Ore., Port Angeles, Wash., and Pasco, to name just a few of her one-night stands.

This is a perfect show for traveling light. Besides requiring only one actor and a minimal set, it also has a crowd-pleasing combination of comedy, drama and romance.

In the first act, we meet a depressed British housewife whose kids are grown and whose husband takes her for granted. She spends most of the first act trying to decide whether to leave him.

In the second act, we discover what happens when she does. The role is generally considered a fabulous vehicle for an actress, maybe even for one best known as a singer.

, DataTimes MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. On stage “Shirley Valentine,” starring Helen Reddy, will be staged Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Met. Tickets are $24.95 and $19.95; available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.

2. On stage “Shirley Valentine” will also show at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint on Sunday at 8 p.m. ($16), and at Coriner Hall in Walla Walla on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ($15 and $10).

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. On stage “Shirley Valentine,” starring Helen Reddy, will be staged Saturday at 8 p.m. at The Met. Tickets are $24.95 and $19.95; available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.

2. On stage “Shirley Valentine” will also show at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint on Sunday at 8 p.m. ($16), and at Coriner Hall in Walla Walla on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ($15 and $10).

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