Many roles for older women in shows are often supporting or secondary characters.
But in the James Kirkwood comedy “Legends,” they’re front and center as the stars. It’s one of the reasons why Theatre West chose to produce the play, which opens Jan. 21 at the Stardust Theatre in Sun City West, featuring many of the club’s seasoned actresses.
Al Lombardos, director of “Legends,” said there aren’t many shows with leads for the “mature older woman.”
“They’re always playing grandmothers and such,” Lombardos said. “And we do plays here as well where our actresses have to play younger ingenues because there just aren’t enough roles written for them. But ‘Legends’ was the right fit for us.”
He said too often it’s hard to find enough roles for older actors, both men and women.
“Legends” focuses on two fading, desperate movie stars being courted by a producer to star in a Broadway show, even though they’ve hated one another for decades.
The producer deceitfully convinces the women to do the show, believing they’ll be starring in the production with Paul Newman. This particular setup provides the backdrop for a full-blown confrontation and several “cat fights” between the dueling divas.
Even though it was intended to reach Broadway, “Legends” never made it to New York but originally toured in 1986 with Mary Martin and Carol Channing. In 2006, producers re-vamped the show with “Dynasty” stars and real-life “frenemies” Linda Evans and Joan Collins.
Janice Lombardos, who portrays aging film star Sylvia Glenn in the Theatre West production, said she’s excited about “Legends,” which pokes fun at 1980s pop culture.
“It’s so much fun to have ‘Dynasty,’ ‘Falcon Crest’ and Paul Newman references,” said Janice Lombardos, who recently appeared in Ghostlight Theatre’s “Arsenic & Old Lace.”
“Plus, I have the chance to play a conniving character and fight in an evening gown,” she said.
For Al Lombardos, “Legends” is an opportunity to showcase women in strong roles.
“I wanted to show that women can be strong and determined, and you get that through this play, even if some of it is played for laughs,” Al Lombardos said.
IF YOU GO
WHERE: Theatre West, Stardust Theatre, 12702 W. Stardust Blvd. Sun City West.
WHEN: Jan. 21 through Feb. 6.
INFO: Call the box office at 623-584-7025.