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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 10/12/2012

Trish Vradenburg’s ‘Surviving Grace’ gets laughs and donations to fight Alzheimer’s disease

Marilu Henner and Diane Rehm star as daughter and mother at Wednesday’s reading of "Surviving Grace" to support Alzheimer's research. (James R. Brantley)
When “Surviving Grace” — a mother-daughter play about Alzheimer’s — opened 10 years ago, the reviews were brutal, to say the least. “Critics didn’t like it, but audiences loved it,” playwright Trish Vradenburg told us. “I got the best reviews in Brazil. From now on, I’m writing everything in Portuguese.”

Jokes about the incurable disease may not work on Broadway, but as a fundraising tool — boffo! The former sitcom writer (“Designing Women” ) and her tech-millionaire husband George, co-founders of USAgainstAlzheimer’s Network, hosted a reading of the first act Wednesday at the Phillips Collection and tapped VIP friends as the cast: WAMU’s Diane Rehm as Grace, the older woman whose mind starts to fail; Dan Glickman as her husband; ABC’s Terry Moran as the doctor/love interest; and actress Marilu Henner as Grace’s daughter.

Playwright Trish Vradenburg and husband George. (James R. Brantley)
“Many of you in this room have probably had similar experiences in your families,” George told the audience. “There may not have been as much humor in your circumstances, but there is humor in this. You can’t go through this and not laugh — because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”

The night raised $150,000; more readings are scheduled around the country.

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By  |  12:00 AM ET, 10/12/2012

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