STUDIO CITY — Of all the subjects for a theatrical biography, Charles Lindbergh's wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, doesn't exactly spring to mind. That she managed, largely through her voluminous writings, to escape Lindy's shadow at all is testament to her personality and strength of character.
But it's another question whether the aviator's wife stands up to the dramatic demands of a one-woman show. In the hands of Shari Doran, who wrote and developed "Anne" beginning with a college thesis and now performs this solo flight at the Theatre Shed in Studio City, the results are mixed.
The physical texture of the show--Gregory Bach and Ray Dunker's inventive scenic design, Roxanne Dungereaux's '20s and '30s costumes, and the catchy period-music soundtrack, which includes such songs as "Three Little Words"--immediately plunk you into a world that's half airplane hangar and half that of a pampered U.S. ambassador's daughter wavering between attending Smith or Vassar.
In fact, there's a lot of the young Zelda Fitzgerald in Doran's interpretation and also in director K.W. Miller's economical staging at the intimate, 16-seat Theatre Shed. Doran, with her blond bob and deft early characterization of a spirited teen-age dreamer, nicely captures the romance of falling for "the tall, grinning Lindy . . . and that swept-out-to sea feeling."
Of course, the kidnaping of the Lindberghs' first child (who's seen in a prominent tintype that adorns Anne Lindbergh's bedroom set) is an emotional part of the material. Taken from her own writings, as is the entire script (she wrote about 20 books), the moment and aftermath of the crushing kidnap are intelligently pared to the bone and are all the more dramatic for it.
In fact, the show is just over an hour long, which is arguably too short. The older, post-Depression-era Anne Morrow Lindbergh is nowhere to be seen. (In fact, the inspirational writer is enduring; she's 95 and living in Connecticut.)
And although we never meet him, Lindy himself is mostly a godlike wraith who fades in and out of the show and doesn't seem to have a flaw in his body. There's no mention at all about his flirtation with Nazi Germany. For that matter, Anne is all heroism herself. Did the Lindberghs ever fight? Any conflict here is strictly unseen.
The ending finds Doran, standing against the Shed's side wall of painted blue sky and white fluffy clouds, dropping her voice a bit too low for patrons already craning their necks sideways. In any case, the final words are too lachrymose for such a plucky woman: "Why is it so hard to think of us going to nothing than to think of us coming from nothing. One direction is just as dark as another."
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WHERE AND WHEN
Location: Theatre Shed, 10806 Ventura Blvd. Studio City, (No. 9, in the rear.)
Hours: 7 p.m. Saturday, 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Ends Aug. 13.
Call: (213) 466-1767.