She took to the stage at the age of 5 and never looked back.
“Performing made me the center of attention, which I thoroughly enjoyed. What child wouldn’t? It also made me feel as though I was doing something well, that was appreciated,” said Linda Lavin, perhaps best known for her TV role as the loving waitress in Alice, and set to take the stage July 11-12 at The Rrazz Room in New Hope.
“I loved the role of Alice, a single mother who successfully made it through life. I discovered that the character represented 80 percent of the working women in this country, the blue-collar and pink-collar women. Hundreds of women have come up to me and said, ‘It was because of watching Alice that I could get through another day with the baby in a high chair. I knew if she could do it, I could do it, too. I could go back to school, I could get off welfare, and I could change my life.’”
Lavin’s own life worked out for the best when she attended and later graduated from The College of William and Mary with a theater degree. The daughter of an opera singer, she found roles in musical comedy early on, and went on to gain kudos for her straight acting roles in Little Murders (for which she won a 1969 Drama Desk Award) and Last Of The Red Hot Lovers (which garnered a 1969 Tony nomination).
Television beckoned in the 1970s, and by 1976, Lavin became a household name as the titular waitress/mother in the sitcom Alice (1976-1985). She nabbed two Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy nomination for her performance.
“And when that show ended, it was back to Broadway for me,” Lavin said, “and I was welcomed with open arms.”
Receiving awards and excellent reviews for her multiple stage appearances, she also occasionally directed for the stage.
Having starred in both comedies and dramas, Lavin said she has no preference.
“It all depends on the material. I prefer the kind of material that combines both elements with emotions that tell the truth about being a human being.”
Today, Lavin is happily married to actor, artist and musician Steve Bakunas, who plays the drums in her show, Possibilities, at New Hope. The show will feature songs from The American Songbook, the theater, her childhood and so on. Lavin said she named the show after her first CD, as well as how she feels about life.
And at the age of 76, she feels great.
“At this age, the roles got fewer and far between for awhile. But then I seem to get back on track. I’m still flourishing and grateful for still getting roles like the one in the new movie I just finished with Robert De Niro.”
As for advice for others, Lavin said she doesn’t give any but is willing to share her own experiences.
“My experience has been to show up on time, be prepared to earn your living, and accept the hardships and the life’s experiences as they come and to live life on life’s terms. Keep the creative and the emotional and the spiritual channels open to all the possibilities,” she said. “It’s very difficult for any woman after a certain age. But my experience has been to accept the blows as they come, then brush yourself off and start all over again.” ••
Show times are 8 p.m. Tickets cost $40 and $45. Call toll-free 888-596-1027.