After nearly 60 years in professional theater, actress Katherine Squire, 81, doesn't plan on leaving the stage any time soon.
"I feel so sorry for people who hit that retirement thing and are shoved out into the world without the possibility of keeping on with their own real work," says Squire, who plays the blind, salty, sometimes irreverent but always wise Gramma Rinn in "A Walk Out of Water" at the Studio Theatre through Dec. 22.
Although she is a veteran of 20 Broadway plays, including "Goodbye Again," "High Tor" and "Six Characters in Search of an Author," Squire says it is regional theater that she enjoys most. "It's a nice, warm, family sort of feeling," says the former company member of Margo Jones' Dallas Theatre, the Cleveland Playhouse, the Guthrie Theatre and Boston's Charles Street Theatre, adding "that's where you do your Chekhov and O'Casey and all the authors you love."
Squire also has appeared in numerous films ("Song Without End," "Story on Page One") and on television ("The Virginians," "Perry Mason," "The Doctors"), but found the repetitive stop-and-go of the genres "very boring."
"I was lucky to have a very quick memory," says Squire, a Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio Wesleyan who used to memorize a script in one night. "It doesn't happen that quick anymore."
Asked how much longer she wishes to perform in the theater, Squire quickly responds, "Until I drop dead. Which I hope will be on stage . . . " Then she reconsiders. "No, off stage. Just off stage -- as I finish my last scene. I wouldn't want to drop dead on stage and shock the audience." 'Iceman' Iced
Bad news for lovers of serious drama on Broadway: The revival of "The Iceman Cometh," starring Jason Robards, which American National Theater originally produced last summer at the Kennedy Center, will close Dec. 1, just two months after opening to enthusiastic reviews at the Lunt-Fontanne.
"There doesn't seem to be much spark left in the thing," said "Iceman" coproducer Lewis Allen, noting that in recent weeks the production had failed to meet its break-even point of $160,000 per week. "I guess we don't have that hard-core theater audience anymore," he said.
Lewis said it was "too tough" to make a profit with only six performances a week. (The show's length -- nearly five hours -- prohibits the scheduling of the customary eight performances.) He did not cite the top ticket price of $45 (on par with Broadway's musicals) as contributing to sagging sales, noting that it was the less expensive mezzanine and balcony seats that were not selling well.
As originating producer, ANT was to share in the profits of the New York production. "It's disappointing," ANT coexecutive director Stuart Thompson said of the show's brief run, "but we are not regarding it as a financial setback. We were not counting on striking it rich."
Lewis is looking into a proposal to take the show to Los Angeles, a "vague offer from London" and a television version of the play, none of which has been finalized. Dewhurst and Sellars
"He may be a child," actress Colleen Dewhurst said of Peter Sellars, American National Theater's 27-year-old director, "but he's the brightest one I've met."
Dewhurst, who is currently rehearsing for ANT's production of Chekhov's "A Seagull," which begins previews at the Eisenhower Dec. 9, appeared with Sellars, who is directing the show, last Wednesday at the inauguration of "Meet Me at the Kennedy Center," a quarterly behind-the-scenes seminar on the performing arts.
"It's been very exciting for me to approach Chekhov," Dewhurst told the audience of about 180 people. "He was speaking 100 years ahead of his time with an acute awareness of the human condition."
Those interested in future seminars should write to: Alma Gildenhorn, "Meet Me at the Kennedy Center," The Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. 20566. Carols and Canned Food
Members of the Washington theater community will present the fifth annual Holiday Performance, a benefit to collect food for the area's hungry, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. at Arena Stage. Admission to the show, which will feature skits, caroling and a staged reading of Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory," is 10 pounds of nonperishable food . . . Our New York correspondent reports that the "Magnificent Christmas Spectacular," playing at Radio City Music Hall through Jan. 9, is exquisitely zany, featuring 117 cast members, including 36 eye-high kicking Rockettes and 32 furry teddy bears (some of them 10 feet tall!) that dance to "The Nutcracker Suite" . . . The Living Stage Theatre Company, Arena Stage's community outreach theater, has received a $60,000 grant from the Hasbro Children's Foundation to fund new residencies in Boston and Pittsburgh next spring . . . Hayloft general manager and owner Frank Matthews thinks his dinner theater's current production of "Not Now, Darling" is so funny he is guaranteeing the laughs: He is offering a free dinner and show to any patron "if this isn't the funniest stage show you have seen anywhere this year." After a month of performances, Matthews says no one has taken him up on the pledge.