For the past three years, Holland Taylor (who plays "the devil" mother in the hit CBS comedy show Two and a Half Men), has conceived, researched, and written a play about the late governor of Texas, Ann Richards.
And in mid-May, Taylor will star in her one-woman show Money, Marbles and Chalk! at Galveston's Grand 1894 Opera House. She's been in rehearsals on the West Coast and will arrive in Galveston at the start of next month for rehearsals here.
"As an actress of a certain age" Taylor told Hair Balls, some people have jumped to the conclusion that she was looking to create a star vehicle for herself. That isn't true - she has more than enough going on between her frequent television, movie (Legally Blonde) and stage work. "Doing this requires enormous stamina. I also probably wouldn't pick somebody where I had to wear a wig and a body suit." Also, the show she wrote requires her to be on stage two hours and 15 minutes.
"It's a big old chunk of a play; it really has to be," Taylor said. "When I finished it I sent it to the smartest people I know in the theater. They said, 'You can't cut this.' I've never in my life thought of writing a play and believe me I'll never do another."
Taylor had met Ann Richards, and was so saddened when Richards died that she felt she had to do something. "I just really was heartsick, and it persisted and I thought I just needed to do something with this energy. If I were a painter, I would have painted something. It actually came to me very suddenly, really like a revelation ... if there was anyone ever meant for stage performance it was Ann Richards."
Richards had a dramatic quality and really connected with people one on one, "She died unexpectedly and much too young," Taylor said.
The resulting play -- in workshop in Galveston with plans to take it across the country -- is not a history lesson on Richards. "That wouldn't be dramatic," Taylor said.
She's spent part of the last three years interviewing people who knew Richards and looking through the former Governor's personal and public papers at the University of Texas Archives.
Taylor, who is also friends with their mutual buddy Liz Smith, had lunch with Richards once and knows she loved going to the theater. She sees the project as something that allows her to honor the memory of someone she greatly admired.
"For all of her colorful, big ego, she was more interested in getting things done than in getting the credit for it," Taylor said.
With all the rumors swirling about Charlie Sheen and the continuation of Two and a Half Men, Hair Balls had to ask if this was the last season. "There's absolutely no official comment at all," Taylor insisted. "Charlie has to have a new contract. He is the brand. I love Charlie and I'm full of admiration. He was thrown into celebrity when he was in his teens. I think he's trying to live a more mature life. I care about him deeply."
As for the Ann Richards play: "Its been a great project for me. she wanted to lift people up and inspire people to do their best. I'd have to say she's done that for me."
According to a press release on the upcoming show, "Money Marbles and Chalk is an old blues expression meaning 'I'm all in, you can count on me for all I've got.' "
Money, Marbles and Chalk! will run May 14-16, Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For ticket information contact the box office at 409-765-1894, 800-821-1894 or at TheGrand.com
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