Reminds her of seaside New Jersey
Ann Richards gets her (Galveston) Grand Opera debut thanks to Holland Taylor
Holland Taylor of Two and a Half Men and Legally Blonde fame debuted her pet project tonight at the Galveston Grand 1894 Opera House: Money, Marbles and Chalk, a play based on the life of Ann Richards. CultureMap interviewed the Hollywood hussy to get an inside look on her inspiration and the journey that took her to Galveston.
Although Taylor hails from Philadelphia and only met the former governor once, she felt that she harbored a feeling of grief ever since Ann Richards passed away in 2006. "I questioned myself why I was still so sad when I didn't really know her, and what I could do with this energy I felt towards her," Taylor says. "I also felt like I was mourning for the nation, for its loss of her."
CultureMap was the first Houston publication to write about Taylor's play back on April 7.
The idea for a Richards' piece came suddenly while driving around Los Angeles. "The idea was so strong, I had to pull my car over," Taylor says. "I asked myself, 'Is there anyone more suited for a stage show than Ann Richards, with her ability to give people hope and connect with them?'"
Taylor had never before embarked on such an ambitious project, but she soon found herself transcribing hundreds of hours of video footage and interviews, speaking with her children and compiling binders of articles.
"To introduce the play in Galveston — that was really special," Taylor says.
Maureen Patton, the Grand's artistic director, found the pitch intriguing, and roped in Taylor for the slot. Originally, Taylor never dared debuting the production in Texas: "I figured three or four times in regional theaters, maybe a commercial production in New York." When offered by Patton to show in Galveston, Taylor says, "I thought to myself, 'What would Ann do?' Ann would think I was one weak sister if I didn't take this quite unique offer."
Arriving in Galveston several weeks ago, Taylor "fainted with joy." The historic seaside community reminded her of summers she'd spent in Avalon, New Jersey. "When I saw the theater, I cried. And when I saw that curtain draw up, my jaw dropped down.
"I can tell you that I've been in many an old theater, and this is the greatest I've seen," Taylor says. "There is such a feeling of intimacy there."
More than ever before, she feels exceptionally in character while at the Grand: "I had all these feelings there that matched the extraordinarily strong person that Ann was."
The play is in Galveston for a very short run (only a weekend with performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and a finale on 2 p.m. Sunday), but hopefully Taylor will make a return to the Houston area, of which she has become quite fond.
"Texas has been damn generous with me," she argues, "Nobody has said, 'Who do you think you are?' Here, they're really willing to give anyone with an idea a shot."