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    Maggie Peterson, a Memorable ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Guest, Dies at 81

    As Charlene Darling, a member of the musical Darling family, she appeared in five episodes, beginning with one in which her character became smitten with Mr. Griffith’s.Maggie Peterson, an actress who in a recurring role on the hit sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” memorably developed an infatuation with Mr. Griffith’s character, Sheriff Andy Taylor, died on Sunday. She was 81.Her death was announced in a post on her Facebook page. The post did not say where she died, but her family said last month that she had been moved from her home in Las Vegas to a nursing facility in Colorado. The family also said that her health took a turn for the worse when her husband, the jazz musician Gus Mancuso, died of Alzheimer’s disease in December at 88.Ms. Peterson was seen on “The Odd Couple,” “Green Acres” and other television shows from 1964 to 1987. But she was probably best known for playing Charlene Darling, a member of the musical Darling family, in several episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” (Her brothers were played by the members of the Dillards, a prominent bluegrass band; their father was played by the veteran character actor Denver Pyle.)Charlene and the other Darlings first appeared in the 1963 episode “The Darlings Are Coming,” in which the family visited Mayberry, the fictional North Carolina town where the show was set, and waited for her fiancé to arrive. Sheriff Taylor lets the family spend a night in the courthouse, and Charlene becomes smitten with the sheriff — an infatuation that ends abruptly when her fiancé arrives.Ms. Peterson was a successful singer before she became an actress.via IMDbThe Darlings returned to Mayberry four more times. In one episode, Charlene and her husband are looking for a young boy for their new baby girl to become engaged to. They pick Sheriff Taylor’s son, Opie, played by Ron Howard, but are eventually tricked into changing their minds.Ms. Peterson played a different character in a later episode of the show and two other characters in episodes of the “Andy Griffith Show” spinoffs “Mayberry R.F.D.” and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” She also appeared in movies with Mr. Griffith and another “Andy Griffith Show” cast member, Don Knotts.She returned to the role of Charlene one last time in the 1986 TV movie “Return to Mayberry.”Margaret Ann Peterson was born on Jan. 10, 1941, in Greeley, Colo., to Arthur and Tressa Peterson. She was a successful singer before she became an actress, with a family vocal group called the Ja-Da Quartet (later known as Margaret Ann & the Ja-Da Quartet), which recorded an album for Warner Bros. Records in 1959, and the Ernie Mariani Trio.After her acting career ended, she worked for the Nevada Film Commission and, usually billed as Maggie Mancuso, was a location manager on “Casino” (1995) and other movies.Information on survivors was not immediately available.The Associated Press contributed reporting. More

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    LaChanze, a Tony Nominee, Is Casting Herself in New Roles

    The veteran actress, nominated for her work in “Trouble in Mind,” is championing Black artists, producing on Broadway and relishing being cast as the love interest.A Tony Award-winning actress walked into a bar, and before long, she was talking about racism.“I have noticed in my career,” the actress, LaChanze, said, “that roles that I’ve gotten are roles of women who have experienced trauma. Major, major trauma. People feel comfortable making me, as a dark-skinned Black woman, a victim of some kind of violence, a victim of trauma. A victim.”The subject of racism — and the various ways it can manifest in the theater industry — came up repeatedly during a lively conversation on a recent rainy Friday afternoon in an Upper West Side wine bar.But don’t get it twisted. LaChanze is thankful — for her career and for the opportunities she’s had over the years.She just received her fourth Tony nomination — her first for best leading actress in a play — for her portrayal of Wiletta Mayer in the Broadway debut of Alice Childress’s 1955 play “Trouble in Mind.”LaChanze, who uses a mononym but was born Rhonda LaChanze Sapp, received glowing reviews. The Times’s theater critic, Jesse Green, wrote that she got the character’s “arc just right in a wonderfully rangy compelling performance.” LaChanze “dazzles,” embodying Wiletta with “breathless ease,” Lovia Gyarkye wrote in her review for The Hollywood Reporter.Every aspect of “Trouble in Mind” seems to comment on racism in some way. There were plans to take it to Broadway in the mid-1950s after a successful run in Greenwich Village, yet the show didn’t make it there until 2021. As a Black writer intending to highlight the unfairness in the theater industry, Childress, who died in 1994, ran headlong into it.“She is finally getting her day in the sun,” LaChanze said of Childress after the show was nominated for four Tony Awards, including best revival of a play.Childress’s comedy-drama is centered on a group of mostly Black actors, with an all-white creative team, rehearsing a Broadway-bound play about the events leading up to a lynching. Wiletta, the main character, is a proud veteran musical-theater actor, excited to be in her first play. She just has a few notes about the script. But the white director is not receptive to Wiletta’s suggestions and feedback. And as she summons the courage to be more forceful, pointing out that some of the dialogue and actions in the script are not authentic to what Black people would actually do and say, the resulting conflict has dire consequences.LaChanze knows the feeling.“I remember having an argument with a director once, saying, ‘A Black woman would never say this about herself.’ And he said, ‘I think she would.’ And he was a white man.” There was an “organic” connection for her with the character of Wiletta: “I have literally lived it in my 40 years of being in this business.”LaChanze as Wiletta Mayer with Michael Zegen as the director Al Manners and Danielle Campbell as the ingénue Judy Sears in “Trouble in Mind,” which ran last fall at the American Airlines Theater.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesThat changed with “Trouble in Mind,” whose director, Charles Randolph-Wright, was “the first Black director that I have had as a leading actress on Broadway,” LaChanze said.Describing LaChanze as a “goddess,” Randolph-Wright praised not only her acting (“I knew what she would do with this, but it was even beyond my imagination”) but also her spirit (“She led that company with grace, with humor — it was brilliant”).And the two of them had a “symbiotic” relationship while working on the show, he said, adding: “It would be late at night and I would have an idea about something, and I would go to dial her number — and my phone would be ringing. She would call me at the exact same moment.”Over a glass of wine, LaChanze was straightforward. Matter-of-fact. She was also luminous, quick to laugh and her eyes shone when she talked about her daughters. Her eldest, Celia Rose Gooding, is now starring in the TV series “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” after starring in the Broadway musical “Jagged Little Pill.” Her youngest, Zaya Gooding, is a linguistics major in college. Coincidentally, Celia’s “Star Trek” character, Nyota Uhura, specializes in linguistics, giving the younger daughter a chance to show off a bit for her older sibling. (“She calls her sister and she advises her on certain things,” LaChanze beamed. “How cool is that?”)Performing started early for LaChanze. As a child, one of her brothers played trombone; the other played drums. “We would make our own songs, and we sort of fashioned ourselves after being like the Jackson 5,” she said. Hers was a military family, so they moved a lot, but her mother always made sure LaChanze was in some sort of dance class or performing arts program. “I thrived there. It’s where I felt the most comfortable to be an outgoing, expressive child with this extra energy.”After attending Morgan State University in Baltimore for two years and then studying theater and dance at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, LaChanze landed in New York “so broke” in the mid-1980s.“I had decided I wasn’t going to go back to school. I was going to stay in New York and do this Broadway show ‘Uptown … It’s Hot!’” she said. Her character was, in her words, “third girl from the left.” Alas, her Broadway debut was brief: “It closed in four days.” (Technically the show closed after 24 performances, but it’s safe to say it was absolutely not a smash hit.)LaChanze ended up sleeping on an ex-boyfriend’s aunt’s couch.“He wasn’t even my boyfriend anymore. But his aunt and I were so tight,” LaChanze recalled. “She gave me a ring to pawn. And it was, like, $600 I got for the ring. And she said, ‘When you get your job, you’re going to go back and get my ring for me.’” In just under a month, LaChanze said, “I was able to get her ring back for her.”A few years later, LaChanze landed the role of the peasant girl Ti Moune in the 1990 Broadway musical “Once on This Island.” Although the Caribbean-set fairy tale with a predominantly Black cast was based on a novel by the Trinidad-born Black writer Rosa Guy, Black people were not involved in writing the lyrics and music, nor in directing or choreographing the show.It was a hit, and in 1991, “Once on This Island” was nominated for eight Tony Awards, including best musical. LaChanze was nominated for best featured actress in a musical and won a Drama Desk Award. She went on to play Marta in the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical “Company.” And three years later, she stepped into a production of “Ragtime,” a stage adaptation of E.L. Doctorow’s 1975 novel exploring the lives of three families at the turn of the 20th century. It was another production with a lot of Black cast members but a white creative team, including the same music and lyrics writers as “Once on This Island,” and Terrence McNally, who wrote the show’s book.At the time, LaChanze was thrilled with the role. But now she views some aspects of the show with a more critical eye. “Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful,” she said. Still: “It was for me the first time that I realized that — aha — here we have white people deciding, culturally, what Black people are doing.”Tony Awards: The Best New Musical NomineesCard 1 of 7The 2022 nominees. More

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    Fred Ward, Actor Who Starred in ‘The Right Stuff’ and ‘Tremors,’ Dies at 79

    The versatile actor was known for bringing a grounded charisma to roles across a decades-long career.Fred Ward, the versatile actor who played an astronaut in “The Right Stuff,” a grizzled drifter in “Tremors” and the titular writer in “Henry and June” across a decades-long career, died on Sunday. He was 79.His publicist, Ron Hoffman, confirmed his death. He did not specify the cause of death.“The unique thing about Fred Ward is that you never knew where he was going to pop up, so unpredictable were his career choices,” Mr. Hoffman said in a statement.Mr. Ward was likely best known for his performances in “The Right Stuff,” the acclaimed 1983 adaptation of a book by Tom Wolfe, and “Tremors,” a monster movie that ascended to cult classic status since its release in 1990.But his long career included a broad range of roles in which he applied a sometimes gruff but almost always grounded charisma to parts on film and TV: among other parts, a union activist in “Silkwood,” a detective in “Miami Blues,” Henry Miller in “Henry and June,” and a motorcycle racer in “Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann.”Mr. Ward also played the lead in “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,” which was intended to be the first in a series but fared poorly in theaters in 1985 and drew mixed reviews.In an interview with The New York Times in 1990, Mr. Ward explained how he chose some roles, saying, “I look for change, a person that changes — he’s on a voyage.”He said he was drawn to the part of Henry Miller because, “I’m part of a generation that, I think, was heavily influenced by Henry Miller, Paris, the ideals there: liberation, a kind of personal and benevolent anarchy that sings through all his pages.”He is survived by his wife, Marie-France Ward, and his son, Django Ward. More

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    Michael Che Is Still Trying to Crack the Code

    As he readies a new season of his HBO Max series, “That Damn Michael Che,” the Weekend Update anchor contemplates his future at “Saturday Night Live.”Michael Che tries not to impose too many rules on his fellow writers when they’re creating sketches for his HBO Max comedy series, “That Damn Michael Che.”“We’ll write what we think would be the funniest chain of events,” he explained recently. Yet for all the paths this would seem to leave open, their sketches — about the tribulations faced by a fictionalized version of Che — inevitably end at a similar destination.“I always come out looking bad,” he said. “I’m never the winner.”With a chuckle, he added that he understood why having his own series required these outcomes. “When you invite people to your house, you always eat last,” he said.In the sketch that opens the second season (due May 26), our star tries to help a man getting beaten up on a subway platform. But when the victim starts spouting bizarre obscenities, Che becomes the target of an internet backlash that threatens to wreck his career.The episode that ensues is (among other things) a parody of the “John Wick” movies and a satire of now-familiar rituals of so-called cancel culture as Che fumbles to restore his reputation.In contrast to the rapid-fire, headline-driven setups and punch lines that Che has delivered for eight seasons as a Weekend Update anchor on “Saturday Night Live,” “That Damn Michael Che” offers a looser blend of standup and sketch that gradually becomes a story or riff on contemporary themes.Che said of his future on “Saturday Night Live” that “my head has been at leaving for the past five seasons.”Andre D. Wagner for The New York TimesThat his streaming series has arrived at this broad formula — applied to quotidian annoyances, social injustices and high-class celebrity problems — was “not necessarily on purpose,” Che said.“I think that ended up being what happened,” he explained. “When you start a show, you’re looking to find its identity.”It’s a process that Che continues to navigate, not only on “That Damn Michael Che” but also in his standup and on “S.N.L.,” where he is learning to balance the demands of these intersecting assignments. He is still discovering the individual benefits of these formats, the best ways to work on them and even what he wants to say in them.While Che projects a certain unflappability in his live comedy, he can be self-scrutinizing offstage and openly unsure about his choices. If you squint a certain way, you might even see a guy at a crossroads, who has at least teased — then quickly laughed off — the idea of ending his productive “S.N.L.” tenure.As with developing a new series, Che suggested that figuring himself out professionally had also required trial and error. “Everything looks easy till you start doing it,” he said.On a Tuesday afternoon this month, Che, who turns 39 on May 19, was sitting in his “S.N.L.” dressing room, a darkened chamber lit by a TV silently playing “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.” He was initially quiet and hidden under a hoodie — still reacclimating after a trip back from the Netflix comedy festival in Los Angeles, he said — but he became more gregarious as the conversation turned to his work.Though the cycle of another week at “S.N.L.” was underway, Che said he wasn’t stressed. “I like the dirty part of the game,” he said, by which he meant composing material: “Trying to crack the code, solving the puzzle. The part nobody sees is what’s really interesting to me.”That work ethic caught the attention of his colleagues at “S.N.L.,” where Che started contributing as a guest writer in 2013 and joined Colin Jost on the Weekend Update desk in the fall of 2014.Jost, who helped bring him onto the show, said that Che quickly became one of its best writers despite his lack of previous sketch-writing experience.“He just worked at it and figured it out,” Jost said in an email.Che, with his fellow Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost. If an audience doesn’t like a Che joke, Lorne Michaels said, “you don’t get the sense that he’s not going to sleep that night.” Will Heath/NBCLorne Michaels, the creator and longtime executive producer of “S.N.L.,” said he didn’t see any neediness in Che’s coolly confident stage presence. For most performers, Michaels explained, “it’s all about being loved or wanted, and he doesn’t seem terribly interested in that.”He added, “If he believes in the joke, he’s doing it. And he’ll acknowledge the audience’s response, but you don’t get the sense that he’s not going to sleep that night.”Jost said that while working with Che on Weekend Update, it “definitely took a while for us to figure it out, individually and together, and that’s why it’s satisfying now to be out there and get to enjoy it after years where it felt like a struggle.”“Che’s thing was always that he didn’t want to tell a joke that someone else could tell,” Jost said, adding that he believes Che had accomplished this: “Even a random joke at the end of Update that anyone could technically tell, he finds a way to do it that’s unique to him.”From one perspective, Che’s ascent has been rapid: after playing his first open mics in 2009, he was performing on David Letterman’s “Late Show” in 2012 and working as a correspondent on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” two years later.But for many years prior, Che cycled through other vocations: drawing and painting, designing T-shirts, working in customer service at a car dealership. All he wanted out of a career, he told me, was that it “wasn’t illegal or a gigolo.”His upbringing as the youngest of seven children raised in public housing on Manhattan’s Lower East Side is rarely far from his mind, and he frequently looks for ways to give back to the community that forged him.When I asked him, somewhat frivolously, what he’d do to keep pace with Jost’s recent investment in a retired Staten Island ferryboat, Che thought for a moment. Then he answered that he’d use a hypothetical windfall to renovate a community center at the Alfred E. Smith Houses that he frequented in his childhood.“Having more places and programs for kids to go would help them a lot,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t just go home. Sometimes there’s 12 people living in a three-bedroom apartment. Sometimes there’s bad things happening in your apartment.”He drew a breath and said to me, “That’s a very odd question.”When the opportunity arose for Che to create his own series with HBO in 2020, Michaels encouraged him to pursue it in tandem with his “S.N.L.” duties. “It’s in my interest for people to keep growing,” said Michaels, who is also an executive producer on “That Damn Michael Che.”But working out what the new show would be was a challenge. Che said he originally thought it would be an animated narrative — an idea he said he might still return to — then leaned back to sketch comedy, which is faster and more familiar to him.Che doesn’t buy into so-called cancel culture: “To me, there’s risk in everything you say and you have to take responsibility no matter what.”Andre D. Wagner for The New York Times“As the scripts started to come in, HBO started saying, it’d be great if you were on camera a lot more,” Che said. With his existing commitment to “S.N.L.,” Che said the questions he faced were, “What could we shoot? What could we do without having to miss work here?”Hiring a writing staff for “That Damn Michael Che” wasn’t difficult; the star just turned to the cadre of stand-ups he regularly hangs out with in comedy clubs.“Those late nights, talking about nothing, goofing off, turned into Mike getting his own show and saying, ‘Hey, come write,’” said Reggie Conquest, a comedian and actor (“Abbott Elementary,” “Scream”) who has written for both seasons of the series.As Conquest described them, those writing sessions “felt just like hanging out at a comedy club and talking like we normally do.”“It was very therapeutic,” he said, as they spoke “from real places, real experiences. And no matter how awful it might sound, you try to make it funny.”In Season 1, that strategy yielded sketches on topics like police violence and hesitancy around the Covid-19 vaccine. Reviewing the show for The Daily Beast, Kevin Fallon wrote, “The comedy and the intimacy of Che’s personal experience create a show that feels funnier, more resonant, and more current than he could ever hope to be on ‘S.N.L.’”Gary Richardson, the head writer of “That Damn Michael Che” and an “S.N.L.” veteran, said that the first season reflected the interests and preoccupations of its star. “He really wanted to make sure it was his show,” Richardson said. “It was a lot of pressure-testing his ideas.”On Season 2, Richardson said that Che “let other people cook more — he felt more comfortable opening it up and letting other folks add their flavor to the pot.”Che himself said his approach this season was to aim “more on the side of funny than on the side of making a point.” That has led to episodes where he tries to organize a brunch party honoring Black excellence and struggles in his shameless efforts to populate it with top celebrities; and where he confronts the repercussions of cancel culture, a phenomenon that Che said he doesn’t regard as meaningful or particularly new.“I don’t buy into it,” Che said. “To me, there’s risk in everything you say and you have to take responsibility no matter what. It’s funny for me to see people learn things that I had to know as a survival tactic my entire life.”In his own work, Che said, “I constantly think my career is over after a bad set or a bad Update. You always think, this is it, at any moment, I’ll be found out.” By having it happen to him in a sketch where an attempt at altruism leads to his downfall, he said, “I just thought it would be a very funny way to lose everything.”Not that Che expects to give up his habit of using social media to antagonize journalists who have criticized him or who he feels have misrepresented him or his friends.“I haven’t turned over a new leaf,” he said. “There is a power that I think writers know they have, that they won’t admit they have, in making perception a reality. I just like to make fun of that. It’s like, I see you — you see me.”Che admitted to a certain professional jealousy of peers like Dave Chappelle, Bill Burr and Michelle Wolf, whom he sees as especially polished stand-ups who can devote their time solely to honing their live acts.It would be understandable if Che were contemplating a life after “Saturday Night Live,” where he is the first Black person to become a head writer and the first to be an anchor on Weekend Update. He holds the second-longest tenure in the show’s history (behind his desk partner, Jost).When Che made a pop-up appearance at a Minneapolis hair salon in March, the Minneapolis Star Tribune quoted him as saying, “This is my last year.” But in comments he later posted to his Instagram account, Che said that he wasn’t leaving the show.(In the post, which he has since deleted, Che wrote: “to comedy fans; please stop telling reporters everything you hear at a comedy show. youre spoiling the trick.”)“There’s people who hate me who can tell me every joke I’ve ever done on the show,” he said, referring to “S.N.L.”Andre D. Wagner for The New York TimesIn our conversation, Che continued to play his remarks off as a joke. “Who doesn’t say they’re going to quit their job when they’re at their other job?” he said. “I’m sure Biden says that twice a week.”In a more sincere tone, Che said, “My head has been at leaving for the past five seasons.”He added, “I do think that I’ve been here longer than I’ll be here. This show is built for younger voices and, at some point, there’ll be something more exciting to watch at the halfway mark of the show than me and dumb Jost.”(Jost said he construed that as a term of endearment. “Now I’m excited to pitch ‘Dumb Jost’ to Apple,” he responded.)Michaels said that “a year of change” was possible after the current season of “S.N.L.” but he hoped Che would not be part of that turnover.“If I had my way, he’ll be here,” Michaels said. “And I don’t always get my way. But when you have someone who’s the real thing, you want to hold on as long as you can.”Though the comedian hopes his work on “That Damn Michael Che” will stand on its own, Che recognized that his time at “S.N.L.” confers a unique status that no other program can duplicate.“There’s people who hate me who can tell me every joke I’ve ever done on the show,” he said.He added, “Even when it’s not exciting, people are like, when’s it going to be exciting? No one says it was never exciting. You understand that, at any moment, something cool could happen.”Speaking as a guy who already has two sketch shows and a standup act to choose from, Che said, “I got really lucky in my career. When I get bad stuff, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m due, I can’t complain.’ I didn’t complain when it was good.” More

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    Joanna Barnes, Actress in ‘The Parent Trap’ and Its Remake, Dies at 87

    In 1961, she played a vixenish fortune hunter. In 1998, she played the character’s mother. In between, she kept busy on TV and also wrote novels.Joanna Barnes, whose many screen roles included the conniving fiancée of a divorced father in the 1961 film “The Parent Trap” and, 37 years later, the character’s mother in the remake — and who, while still enjoying success as an actress, embarked on a successful second career as a writer — died on April 29 at her home in The Sea Ranch, Calif. She was 87.The cause was cancer, her friend Sally Jackson said.Ms. Barnes’s role in the hit Disney movie “The Parent Trap” was part of her busy first five years in Hollywood, which began in television on series including “Playhouse 90” and “Cheyenne” and then advanced to supporting roles in “Auntie Mame” (1958), opposite Rosalind Russell, and “Tarzan, the Ape Man” (1959), which starred Denny Miller in the title role.Ms. Barnes, as Jane, in the 1959 film “Tarzan, the Ape Man,” with Denny Miller, left, in the title role and Cesare Danova.FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty ImagesLife magazine featured Ms. Barnes in a photo spread that promoted “Tarzan.”“The silk-clad debutante, above, and the barelegged tree climber at right are the same — Miss Joanna Barnes of Boston and Hollywood,” the article said in part. “She is the latest and, MGM insists, the brainiest of the 20 girls who have played Jane, the genteel Englishwoman in the Tarzan films.”In “The Parent Trap” (1961), starring Hayley Mills in the dual role of long-separated twin sisters who meet and conspire to reunite their divorced parents, Ms. Barnes played the vixenish fortune hunter dating the girls’ father, played by Brian Keith. When the film was remade 37 years later with Lindsay Lohan as its star, Ms. Barnes played the mother of her former character, who was portrayed by Elaine Hendrix.“She had no judgment about being in a remake,” Nancy Meyers, the director of the film, said in a phone interview. “And she was one of those people who, after you say, ‘Cut!’ you want to keep talking to her.”Ms. Barnes never became a major star, and in the 1960s she began to find diversions from acting.In 1967 she hosted the ABC television series “Dateline: Hollywood,” on which she took viewers behind the scenes on studio tours and interviewed stars. She wrote a syndicated column, Touching Home, and a book, “Starting From Scratch” (1968), about interior decorating.Her first novel, “The Deceivers” (1970), was a sexy Hollywood exposé that swirled around a former child actress and the powerful people in her orbit.Ms. Barnes’s first novel, published in 1970, was a sexy Hollywood exposé. She went on to write three others.“Joanna Barnes is Jacqueline Susann with a brain,” the critic John Leonard wrote in The New York Times, referring to the author of the saucy 1966 saga “Valley of the Dolls.” He added, “A few of the characters in ‘The Deceivers’ seem to have been stamped out of stale Saltines; the sex grows like grass between each block of plot; and, as in too many first novels, everything gets resolved at a big party. But Miss Barnes is an excellent guide for tourists in the land of the plastic cactus.”She also wrote the novels “Who Is Carla Hart?” (1973); “Pastora” (1980), about a 19th-century woman’s rise in San Francisco society, which was a New York Times paperback best seller; and “Silverwood” (1985).“Acting and writing feed each other,” she told The Associated Press, adding, “When I’m beginning to feel confined at writing, I take time out for acting.”And socializing. In 1971, she briefly dated Henry Kissinger, who was President Richard M. Nixon’s national security adviser at the time. When Maxine Cheshire of The Washington Post reported that she and Mr. Kissinger had attended a party in Hollywood together, she noted that Ms. Barnes had written “The Deceivers,” “which Kissinger hasn’t read.”Ms. Barnes was born in Boston on Nov. 15, 1934, and raised in Hingham, Mass. Her father, John, was an insurance executive, and her mother, Alice (Mutch) Barnes, was a homemaker. She studied English at Smith College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in 1956 — the year she earned her first screen credit in the TV series “Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers.”In 1961, she was booted from the Boston Social Register, which, she told The St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, did not approve of actors. She had just been in the hit movie “Spartacus,” starring Kirk Douglas.“Played a degenerate Roman lady,” she said. “Delicious part.”Over the next three decades she was seen on many TV series, including “Bachelor Father,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Love American Style,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Trapper John, M.D.” In the 1965-66 season she was a regular on “The Trials of O’Brien,” a short-lived series about a defense lawyer, played by Peter Falk. She played his ex-wife.She is survived by her stepdaughters, Laura and Louise Warner; her stepson, John Warner; and her sisters, Lally Barnes Freeman and Judith Barnes Wood. Her marriages to Richard Herndon and Lawrence Dobkin ended in divorce; her marriage to Jack Lionel Warner ended with his death in 2012.For all her success on the screen, her interest in acting had faded — until the remake of “The Parent Trap” came along.“Her part was small but memorable, and I definitely didn’t need to tell her how to play it,” Ms. Meyers wrote in an email. “She knew exactly what to do and played it to the hilt.” More

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    Bruce MacVittie, Ubiquitous Character Actor, Dies at 65

    A co-founder of the Naked Angels troupe in New York, he was a familiar face in Off Broadway theater, in movies and on TV, often playing tough guys with tormented souls.Bruce MacVittie, one of New York City’s quintessential character actors, who made his Broadway debut in David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” opposite Al Pacino in 1983 and was a mainstay on Off Broadway stages for over 40 years, as well as a familiar face on television and in film, died on May 7 in Manhattan. He was 65.His wife, Carol Ochs, confirmed the death, in a hospital, but said the cause had not been determined.Mr. MacVittie excelled at playing tough guys with tormented souls, revealing a tenderness at the heart of his characterizations. His casting type was low-life and street-smart, but he himself ran in rarefied acting circles. In the mid-1980s, he helped found Naked Angels, a troupe of young film and theater hipsters (including Matthew Broderick and Marisa Tomei) who immediately dazzled New York with the celebrity wattage and social conscience of their theatrical endeavors.“Naked Angels was the club that was too cool to let me in,” the actress Edie Falco recalled in an interview. “I was just hanging around on the fringes, dying to get my foot in the door, but Bruce was already in. Bruce and I traveled through our actor travails together. We were young together and got less young together.”Mr. MacVittie in the thriller “Killer Among Us” (2021), one of his numerous film roles.Vertical EntertainmentMr. MacVittie’s career began in 1980 at Ensemble Studio Theater in Manhattan with a lead in Edward Allan Baker’s “What’s So Beautiful About a Sunset Over Prairie Avenue?”In 1988, after bit parts on the series “Barney Miller” and “Miami Vice,” he got his first big television job, partnering with Stanley Tucci in “The Street,” a vérité slice of blue-collar cop life set in the Newark Police Department. Claiming to be “the first television series shot entirely in New Jersey,” the show churned out 40 episodes in 40 days but lasted only a season. Still, it cast a stylistic shadow over future TV crime dramas.“Bruce’s background was working class, like me,” said Frances McDormand, another longtime friend. “There was something about celebrating this in our work that was important to both of us. Bruce had a pride about where he’d come from that he carried with him and was even cocky about. It was very charismatic.”Bruce James MacVittie was born in Providence, R.I., on Oct. 14, 1956. His father, John James MacVittie, was a worker at the Narragansett Electric Company; his mother Olive (Castergine) MacVittie, was a homemaker.Bruce grew up in Cranston, R.I., where he began to act in high school, and went on to graduate from Boston University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He moved to New York in 1979. Four years later, after understudying for the role of Bobby in the Pacino revival of “American Buffalo,” Mr. MacVittie took over the part on Broadway and ultimately performed it on a national tour and in the West End of London.“Bruce carried this currency, especially for young actors then, like me, that he’d worked onstage with Pacino,” recalled the actor Bobby Cannavale. “The fact that he’d elevated to that role as a ‘cover’ made it even more heroic.”In 2011, after over 75 film and television appearances, including 11 different roles on various “Law and Order” franchises, guest spots on “The Sopranos,” “Sex in the City” and “Homicide,” innumerable theatrical roles, like his acclaimed performance as a displaced Cuban immigrant in Eduardo Machado’s “Havana is Waiting,” 10 seasons at the Eugene O’Neill Center Playwrights Conference in Connecticut and an equal number of summers at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, Mr. MacVittie set aside his acting career to train as a nurse. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Hunter College in Manhattan in 2013.In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Sophia Oliva Ochs MacVittie. His first marriage ended in divorce. He lived in Manhattan.Mr. MacVittie returned to acting in his last years, including in a featured role on Ava DuVernay’s lauded Netflix series, “The Way They See Us.” He confined his nursing activities to the palliative care of friends in need.“I loved Bruce MacVittie,” Mr. Pacino said in an interview. “His performances were always glistening and crackling; a heart and a joy to watch. He was the embodiment of the struggling actor in New York City, and he made it work. We will miss him.” More

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    ‘Which Way to the Stage’ Review: Theater Buddies, With Claws Out

    In her new comedy, Ana Nogueira spins zippy fun out of a fairly conventional story about a friendship strained by resentment.If you have ever fantasized about casting your favorite musical or ranked the actresses who have played Mrs. Lovett, chances are you will be familiar with Jeff and Judy. You might even be them.We first meet the two besties by the stage door of the Richard Rodgers Theater. They are waiting, Playbills at the ready, for Idina Menzel — this is 2015, when Menzel was still headlining “If/Then” and stars occasionally met with fans after a performance (an activity now curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic).Judy (Sas Goldberg) and Jeff (Max Jenkins) are arguing over the respective merits of Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone in “Gypsy,” and Ana Nogueira’s “Which Way to the Stage,” at MCC Theater, is off, its needle already close to the red zone. At least Jeff and Judy agree on one thing: either of those two stars is better than the one they refer to simply as “Imelda” (Staunton, unless Marcos also appeared in “Gypsy”). “Like a caricature of a caricature of a performance by my mother in the Temple Beth Israel talent show,” Judy says.You might have sussed out by now that Judy is straight and Jeff is gay, and both have a way with quips.Admittedly this is a fairly conventional setup, but Nogueira spins zippy fun out of it, the theater references are on point, and the director, Mike Donahue, imparts a nice screwball-comedy pace. Then come the variations on the theme.Michelle Veintimilla, from far left, Evan Todd and Sas Goldberg at a drag performance by Max Jenkins’s character, Jeff.Richard Termine for The New York TimesThe first is that, somewhat predictably, Judy and Jeff are actors themselves — though she makes a living as a real estate agent while he is a Crunch instructor with a drag gig on the side.We also gradually realize that their friendship is heavy with barely contained resentment. Jeff lectures Judy when she uses a slur for gay men, only to casually drop demeaning words for women. After she takes off during his drag tribute to Menzel, a wounded Jeff demands to know what she thought of his act. It is obvious the last thing he wants is an honest opinion, but he pressures Judy anyway.“Which Way to the Stage” is about the performances people put on for themselves, their friends, family and potential loved ones, as well as the identities they hide behind. (Nogueira has experience both as a writer and an actor, with acting credits on such shows as “The Vampire Diaries” and the Starz series “Hightown.”)This tension between who we are, who we think we are and the personas we project is especially fraught for actors, and it weighs heavily on Jeff and Judy. (Goldberg, a standout in “Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow” and “Significant Other,” excels at suggesting hurt underneath sarcasm.) The veiled animosity between the two is brought to a head when they meet the handsome Mark (Evan Todd), who has the easygoing, insouciant charm of a born star — or at least someone who can live off his acting.Under its avalanche of knowing jokes, “Which Way to the Stage” has serious matters on its mind, including the undercurrent of homophobia and misogyny that can suffuse the relationship between straight women and gay men. Nogueira’s writing is at its best when she lets anger bubble to the surface, but like Jeff and Judy with theater, it seems as if she can’t quite decide whether her play is, at heart, about love or cynicism.“Which Way to the Stage” builds up to a conflagration that is the equivalent of an 11 o’clock number. But like many musicals, the show doesn’t know what to do with itself afterward, so it ends big with a move that feels like a Hail Mary pass. The attempt is fun to watch, but it also comes up short.Which Way to the StageThrough May 22 at MCC Theater, Manhattan; mcctheater.org. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes. More