Although Richard Kline is in Seattle doing the very serious and dramatic role of lawyer Boris Max in the Intiman's production of Native Son, he is still best known as Larry Dallas, the unrepentant ladies' man on the long-running sitcom, 'Three's Company.'
'Yes,' he says when I ask if he gets recognized, 'right here in Bartell's. I don't understand it, I have silver white hair, I'm a lot older, and people say 'you look the same.''
Kline has visited Seattle before, but this is his first time working here.
'I've been doing theater all my life,' he explains. He studied drama at Queens College in New York City, and did graduate work at Northwestern. However, he doesn't mind being recognized for his work in one of television's most popular shows.
'It's hilarious that I can play this incredibly dramatic role at one of the country's greatest theaters, and still have this legacy [of being] the guy who would come in and ask John Ritter if he wanted to go to the Regal Beagle.'
Kline has acted in films, on television and stage, and has directed and taught. He often performs a one-person play, Boychick, for Jewish centers and festivals around the country, about a disaffected architect who refuses to say kaddish for his father.
Kline is dedicating his current role to his friend, Andrew Goodman, one of the Freedom Riders murdered in Mississippi in 1964. He and Goodman were friends and drama students together at Queens College.
'Some of us were surprised when we heard Andy was going to be a Freedom Rider,' Kline recalls.
'When I saw in the paper that he was missing, I said to my mother, 'he's dead.' I was filled with incredible rage and sorrow,' which has hardly abated over the years. 'I forced myself to watch [the movie] Mississippi Burning and was inflamed all over again.'
Shortly after Kline arrived for rehearsals last month, the script, based on the book by Richard Wright, was withdrawn by its author, Cheryl L. West, over issues of literary rights and billing too complicated to explore here. This sent the cast and staff into a 'frenzy,' says Kline. After a few days of exploring various options, Intiman asked director Kent Gash to write a new script, and he agreed.
'In the book [Max] has a 22-page courtroom summation,' explains Kline, which was reduced to almost nothing in the original play. He is pleased to have an eight-minute speech in Gash's version.
'It's a book so powerful and eloquent, even to have a smidgen of that is significant.'
Native Son opens tonight (October 27), and continues through November 18. Call 206-269-1900 for tickets.
Bellevue native Ben Levy is BBYO's new city director. The organization, which operates out of the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island, is run by its teen members who conduct their own meetings and plan and execute programs. Ben is there as an advisor to the local chapters, answering questions, providing support and acting as a resource. (He's also the coordinator for Teen Connection, the program for 7th and 8th Graders.)
Ben has been immersed in things Jewish from the get-go. His family belongs to Herzl-Ner Tamid Congregation, he is an alum of the Jewish Day School and Northwest Yeshiva High School. He graduated from Georgetown University two years ago with a degree in Judaic Studies, after which he 'promptly returned to Seattle.'
Since returning he's taught at Temple De Hirsch Sinai and Hebrew High and worked at Camp Solomon Schechter. He also works in the office at the Seattle Hebrew Academy, although he says there was a short period during which he was a substitute-in-residence at the school. 'In one two-week period I taught every grade.'
He tells me he particularly likes working with teens.
'They're the ones who have the most defined sense of self,' he observes. 'I get to see that the kids are capable of amazing stuff.'
Free time is limited for a young man with two jobs, but when he can, Levy enjoys rock climbing and Ultimate Frisbee (he played for the Georgetown team).
'I'm an avid watcher of movies,' he says. 'I like old movies and foreign movies. When I go to the video store that's what I choose.'
For more information on BBYO you can call Ben directly at 206-232-7115 x257.
Seattle Symphony artistic director Gerard Schwarz will wield the baton on Nov. 13 in Los Angeles when The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and the Jewish Community Foundation, present a special concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
'One People'Many Voices' highlights the 75th annual United Jewish Communities General Assembly in that city Nov. 12-15. The concert will feature pieces from the archive's award-winning repertoire that reflects Jewish life in America. Works by Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weil and others will be performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and guest soloists along with a musical tribute to Yiddish theater.
Gerard Schwarz has been deeply involved in the work of the Milken Archive since its inception a decade ago. He continues to be an active member of its artistic advisory board, an energetic activist on behalf of this rediscovery of concert music related to American Jewish life. Schwarz conducts orchestras and choruses from around the world on many of the distinguished recordings in this 50-CD series. With the Archive's artistic director, he co-hosted a nationally syndicated radio series, Jewish Music, based on the Milken Archive recordings.
Community leaders from across North America gather each year for the UJA GA to focus on the accomplishments of, and the challenges facing the Jewish community at home and abroad.
Information about the UJC is at www.ujc.org, and you can read more about the Milken Archive at www.milkenarchive.org.