Sternhagen, Cunningham to read comic miscues
(John Cunningham and Frances Sternhagen talk about “Comic Miscommunications,” the one-night-only show they’ll perform at The Osborn retirement community in Rye on Sept. 27. Photos by Tania Savayan/The Journal News.)
I chatted with two charming local actors the other day, one of whom you likely know, the other you should.
She won one of her two Tony Awards for “The Good Doctor.” He has been on TV’s “The Good Wife.”
On Sept. 27, New Rochelle’s Frances Sternhagen and Rye’s John Cunningham will present “Comic Miscommunications,” a staged reading of scenes on that theme, from works they’ve performed over their long acting careers. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the 200-seat Sterling Auditorium at The Osborn retirement community off Post Road in Rye.
Sternhagen is best known as the overbearing Bunny McDougal from “Sex and the City” or as Cliff Clavin’s mom from “Cheers,” while Cunningham is a Broadway veteran from the original runs of “1776,” “Cabaret” and “Company.” Last spring, he was in Tina Howe’s “Painting Churches,” opposite Kathleen Chalfant at Off-Broadway’s Keen Company.
We met in Cunningham’s lovely home on the Rye Golf Club grounds a couple of three-woods from the Long Island Sound. (OK, maybe a driver and a three-wood.)
The conversation was bright and light, full of laughs and great stories, like the one Sternhagen told about an actor who was supposed to come on stage and fire a gun three times. When the gun failed to fire, he shouted “Bang! Bang! Bang!”
Cunningham had us laughing, too, talking about the seasoned actor who, during a summer stock production, made his entrance much too early. When he realized the error, he sauntered downstage, peered into the audience and intoned: “Well, I’m here mistakenly. I came into this scene but I was told that I was on, but I’m not. I’ll be back in about five minutes and I’ll see you then.”
“My husband and I did readings at Rye High School years ago and John joined us,” Sternhagen says. “Then my husband died and John and I just continued doing it.” For years, they were also involved with “Players and Playwrights,” a Rye Arts Center program to bring writers to the stage to talk about their works.
This is not the first time Cunningham and Sternhagen have played this material, drawn from past productions and favorite scripts. Romulus Linney’s “Tennessee” is excerpted, as is Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor.” And, Cunningham says, “we’ll go full Brit” to perform a scene from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”
Read more about “Comic Miscommunications” on Thursday, here, and in The Journal News.
“Comic Miscommunications” with Frances Sternhagen and John Cunningham. 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27. Sterling Auditorium at The Osborn, 101 Theall Road, Rye. Free. 914-925-8000. www.theosborn.org