Friday, October 6, 2017

You In Midair—New Expressive Works—SE Belmont

“Death Be Not Proud…”

This one-woman show, based on her true experiences, is written by and features, Danna Schaeffer, and is directed by Julie Akers.  It is playing at the above location, 810 SE Belmont, through October 15th.  For more information and tickets visit 800-838-3006 or

“You in midair and me on the ground…what a sight we must make…:” (a little rearranging of lyrics from a musical).  This seems appropriate when a separation occurs.  Schaeffer is talking about the ultimate separation for a parent, of course, the death of a child, her daughter, Rebecca, murdered by a stalker in July of 1989.  It seems tragic for another reason, too, as she was just on the point of being discovered and could have had a wonderful career. 

She was up for the part of the daughter (I believe) in “The Godfather III” and was that day to receive the script.  As it turned out, when the film was made, the director’s daughter ended up playing the part and (although she is now a respected director) was weak in the role, as if the Fates were saying, it should have been Rebecca.  But now the trick is for the living to…keep living—without feeling guilty about moving on and being happy.  That may be the hardest part, as if you do, you feel you are somehow betraying your loved one who has passed.

All these points are in Schaeffer’s script.  She speaks of when her daughter was in the 6th grade and got a part in a play and others noted that she seemed born to the Art.  She went on to do theatre throughout school and, at 16, went to The Big Apple to give Broadway a try.  She paid her “dues” by doing Soaps and modeling and then to LA to give TV a try, in the series, “My Sister Sam.”  And then, to Italy, with Mom, to do a made-for-TV film.

Schaeffer spends some time on this aspect of her story, as it was just a short time after that she was killed.  The land of romance, with tours and night life and imagined poling down the canals in a gondola.  A Last Hurrah.  She then does an about face as she receives the tragic news a few weeks later and the alienation she feels when trying to get a hold of friends and family, and the emptiness of the hospital when she goes to view the body, all very surreal.  But, in the final report, an outpouring of tributes and testimonials from fans and friends stream in at the memorial and after.

And then the search for Why and What to do now.  She discovers that giving way to “anger is no match for her loss.”  It is true, as one friend told her, their “lives will never be the same again.”  But, to go on …Salinger said, as he talked about loss, was like “running back and forth between grief and high delights,” something she can identify with.  And so now this play, as a catharsis for herself, as well as a memorial to her daughter.  It was a full house last night and you could sense the power of support from the audience, as Schaeffer bravely traversed between humor and sadness in her difficult journey to this point.  Akers wisely directed enough variety in her performance so it’s never static but always relevant.

Schaeffer is a fine performer and writer and I recommend this play.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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