Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Jo Pruden, left, is the ailing Grace and Shari Lynn is
Gloria in the Manoa Valley Theatre production
of "Grace & Glorie."

Shari Lynn glories
in grace-filled life

By John Berger

It's life as usual for Shari Lynn these days and that means that the multi-talented entertainer is juggling several projects at once. Topping the list for her this week is her starring role in Manoa Valley Theatre's production of "Grace and Glorie," but she is also working on a CD with her 8th grade students at La Pietra, teaching voice privately at Sanders Piano, and out there looking for the funding she needs to finish production on the "Some Like It Cole" album she recorded with Jimmy Borges last year.

You may also have seen her recently performing at the Hale Koa, at the "Taste of the Stars event at Leeward Community College or singing with Del Courtney and the Del Courtney Orchestra at the Blue Tropix.

Her life these days also includes "a garden, husband and dog." She's looking forward to celebrating her 26th wedding anniversary with her husband, Michael, in Italy later this summer.

"I do have a life outside of show business," she said recently, adding that she was calling from the parking lot of Nordstrom's ("one of my favorite places").

"Time flies when you're having fun, and we do have fun. I do recommend marriage, but I didn't call to give you advice."

No, she didn't. We're talking about the MVT production. Doing "Grace and Glorie" is a dream-come-true project for her. Lynn saw Estelle Parsons and Lucie Arnaz in the original off-Broadway production in 1996 and fell in love with it.

"I sat there looking at this one-set show and pictured Jo Pruden and I doing it and it was a dream I had -- to work with the best actress in Hawaii in this show. I was working for Manoa (Valley Theatre) as their PR person at the time and thought it would be perfect."

The decision-makers at MVT lacked Lynn's enthusiasm. Two years later, Army Community Theatre director Vanita Rae Smith decided to do "Grace and Glorie" as part of its Readers Theatre program. Smith cast Pruden as Grace, a feisty 90-year-old mountain woman who is terminally ill and determined to die at home, and Lynn as Glorie, an unhappy fortysomething New Yorker with an attitude who's working as a hospice volunteer.

The reaction to the show was so good that Lynn, Pruden and Smith began looking for a place to stage it as a full-scale production.

"We started getting some interest and went with Manoa because of the size of the house, and here we are!"

It's the second time that MVT has decided to stage a show that Smith premiered in Hawaii in the Readers Theatre format. It's also the second time that MVT has asked Smith to reprise her role as director.

"Vanita and Jo and I came to Manoa as a package. There was no choice in the matter for them as far as we were concerned."

Lynn wants the details of the story to be fresh for the audience and asks that some of the similarities between Glorie's experiences and her own not be revealed.

"Glorie comes to the hospital looking for something to do to keep busy. As the play evolves we find that -- without ruining it for the audience -- Glorie has other reasons for being there."

Lynn adds that it isn't all about life and death. There are some lighter moments too.

"Glorie tries to introduce Grace to New York deli food, and she insists that I eat one of her favorite things. What was it? Well, last night everybody was in tears watching us gag!"

Grace and Glorie

On stage: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 4 p.m. Sundays through June 3
Place: Manoa Valley Theatre, 2833 E. Manoa Road
Tickets: $22
Call: 988-6131

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