The great Cherry Jones is coming to the Bay Area at long last!
The two-time Tony Award-winner makes her Bay Area performance debut at the Golden Gate Theatre when Best of Broadway hosts the national tour of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt. The show opens Nov. 7 and continues through Dec. 3. Check out shnsf.com for information.
I had the great pleasure of speaking with Cherry Jones (alas, no relation, but our monograms are nearly the same). You can read all about her Tony-winning take on playing Sister Aloyisus in my Nov. 3 Jones for Theater column here.
The demands of a juicy blog require that I provide additional, somewhat more salacious information than appears in our newspaper, so let me warn you: the following information deals with Cherry Jones, one of our finest actors in any medium, NAKED.
When he was in town to promote his ucpoming show Legally Blonde, director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell happened to mention that he had been skinny-dipping with Jones while they were working on Nora Ephron’s Imaginary Friends: A Play with Music in which Jones starred as Mary McCarthy and Swoosie Kurtz played Lillian Hellman.
Mitchell said that during a lifetime of seeing beautiful dancers’ bodies, he thinks Jones’ is even more beautiful.
I mentioned this to Jones, and she just laughed.
“I’m a skinny-dipper from way back and proud of it,” she said. “Maybe I’ll put that on my gravestone.”
I told her I wasn’t much for going full monty in public (or in private for that matter).
“Well, you’re missing out on one of life’s pleasures,” she said.
I didn’t talk to Cherry Jones only about the joys of jaybird nakedness. We talked about serious things, too, like how important the play Doubt is because it challenges the way people think about their perception of the truth.
We all sit, many of us, in our homes watching mindless, violent entertainment. I think we have to figure out how we can start spiralling up and not keep spiralling down. We have to challenge ourselves. Nobody wants to do that anymore. I don’t know how you get people to leave what is comfortable and easy. We’ve gotten so brilliant at pandering in this country, making sure we have everything to feel comfortable and easy. God forbid anyone should have to think or feel challenged. That’s capitalism: make people safe, comfortable and fat — and there’s no truth to any of it.
On the subject of being openly gay in show business, which is something that seems to have had no effect on the upward trajectory of her career, Jones said:
I came along in the gay rights movement at the right time. It was effortless for me. My parents had prepared me beautifully to be who I am. They let me know that no matter who or what I was, they would love me unconditionally. I’m a product of unconditional love. That makes it possible to be who you are because you know you have the support of the people who matter most to you. That’s the big lesson to parents. We all ask: what are the answers to the world’s problems? Well, let children know they’re loved. That’ll take care of 500 problems right there.
No doubt about it. Cherry Jones is one of the greats.
It’s a shame that Doubt will be playing at the cavernous Golden Gate Theater. Doubt, although it deals with large issues, is a very intimate, 4 -character play. Having just recently seen the LA run of the play, I can attest to the fact, however, that if any actor can “play to the back of the house”, it’s La Jones.
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