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Sharing the Limelight

2 actresses take in stride the difficulties of being double-cast.


One of the traumas of an actor's life is being double-cast in a role. It means that rehearsal time is often cut in half, only one actor gets seen by critics, and worst of all, there is the question of who gets to go on on opening night.

None of these things has bothered Madonna Magee and Mimi Cozzens, the two actresses playing the leading female role in the West Coast premiere of Peter Sagal's "Denial," opening this weekend at Actors Alley's Storefront Theatre, under the direction of Jeremiah Morris.

The main reason is that both actresses have been strongly affected by the play's theme, which deals with a professor who is intent on proving that the Holocaust never happened. Cozzens and Magee play the Jewish attorney defending him.

"It's going to cause a lot of controversy," Cozzens said. "I'm curious to see what the reactions might be." Both actresses find it hard to imagine what is going on in the professor's head. To Magee, he is like those who still believe the Earth is flat.

Each actress has developed the character of the Jewish attorney independently, but their basic aim has been the same: to do "the work," as actors say, regardless of rehearsal time, or who might go onstage on opening night.

So, who plays the role on opening night? It was decided by tossing a coin.

* "Denial," Actors Alley Storefront Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. (plus Thur. previews tonight and next Thur.), 8 p.m; Sun., 2 and 7 p.m. Ends July 13. $14-$16. (818) 508-4200.


In Fargo Country: While American Renegade Theatre artistic director David Cox is waiting out the bureaucratic process of obtaining permits for ART's new building on Magnolia Boulevard, he isn't taking it easy.

He's appearing in the successful ART production of "Cracks in a Sidewalk" at the company's temporary space on Lankershim, and simultaneously directing the world premiere of Michael Friel's comedy-drama "LaMoure, ND 58485" at the Bitter Truth.

Friel's play takes place in a small-town North Dakota bar during a snowstorm, where five people have gathered with what is described as volcanic results.

"It's a country play," Cox said. "I lived in Vermont, but had come from the city, and there's a lot of humor in that situation."

Cox also likes the unusual romantic situation in the play, and the character of a Vietnam veteran who goes over the edge.

The play was also very attractive to Erin Gray, who plays the local schoolteacher whose sadness is that she never had children. "I liked what she was about," said Gray. "She's about nurturing, educating, caring, challenging, very much an earth mother. But funny, and sexy."

* "LaMoure, ND 58458," the Bitter Truth, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. Ends June 29. $15. (818) 755-7900.

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