"A one-person show isn't hard, but it's very important to admire your character," says Barbara Rush, star of "A Woman of Independent Means" at Ford's Theatre through Oct. 11. She plays Bess Steed Gardner, a strong-willed Dallas matron, whose life as a traditional wife and mother plays out through the 20th century.
Based on the novel by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, the show was mounted by Rush and Hailey almost as an experiment of the "Hey kids, let's put on a show" variety. "Betsy and I have been friends for years," says Rush, a veteran of stage and screen. "I was reading her book, and as I read it I realized it would make a good show," she says.
They started small, using costumes made by a designer friend and the sets of an Eileen Heckert show that had been playing in the theater. Success followed quickly: "A Woman of Independent Means" became a Los Angeles Drama Critics' Circle Award Winner and Rush was touring the country with the play.
"The marvelous thing about doing a play like this," she says, "is we can change it as we go along. We have a whole book to choose from, and the author's approval!"
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