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Off-Key Audrey

August 06, 1988|JANICE ARKATOV

Cassie Yates can sing. Really.

You wouldn't know it from her performance as Miss Audrey, Hank Williams' comely but tuneless wife in "Lost Highway: The Music and Legend of Hank Williams" at the Mark Taper Forum.

"You have to be able to sing well to sing badly," reasons the Georgia-born actress ("Rich Man, Poor Man, Book II," "The Osterman Weekend," "Unfaithfully Yours"). "People who sing badly don't know why they sing badly. People who sing well can sing badly because they know what makes it bad. So I just stand there and bend the notes till they go off key--till it drives me crazy."

Otherwise, the role fits quite comfortably, although Yates admits that, in the past, she hadn't been Williams' No. 1 fan. "I heard his music all the time growing up. Actually, almost everyone in the cast is from the South; it was sort of a prerequisite to do this play. But it really goes deeper than the accent. You've got to know these people."

Another thing Yates is at ease with is playing the femme fatale. (One character says of Audrey: "She could melt the wax off a Dixie cup at 50 feet.") Her feelings about often being cast in vixen-ish roles? "It's just my personality," the actress says with a laugh. "I've been around--and that comes across. I also think it's the glint in my eyes."

The glint was definitely in evidence during her 1986-87 stint on "Dynasty," in which she played Dex's former high school flame, who allows her brain-dead child's heart to be transplanted into the ailing Carrington baby. "So Krystle feels sorry for me and I move into the mansion. Once I'm there, I think, 'Well, it's half my baby, because it's got my baby's heart.' So I kidnap it. But she wasn't a bad character really. Just a little troubled."

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