Rita Rudner, whose comedy "Tickled Pink" makes its world premiere at the Laguna Playhouse on Tuesday, is who those in show business would term a "quadruple hyphenate."
It's nothing complicated. It just means that Rudner is proficient in four areas of show business. She's been a dancer, an actress, a writer and a stand-up comic.
It's in the latter area that Rudner, who divides her time between homes in Laguna Niguel and Las Vegas, has gained the most attention. She turned to comedy at 25 after, she says, "observing how few female comedians there were compared to the number of female dancers."
Her comedic skill — and soft-spoken, self-deprecating style of delivery — earned her myriad honors. She was named "best female stand-up comedian" in 1990 and later became the first female comic to be invited to a Friar's Club roast.
As a writer, Rudner has produced several memorable titles — among them "I Still Have It; I Just Can't Remember Where I Put It," "Naked Beneath My Clothes," "Turning the Tables" and, of course, "Tickled Pink."
Rudner adapted "Tickled Pink," which plays through May 20, for the stage and will perform in the ensemble cast of 13. It's the story of a dancer who becomes a comedienne. Sound familiar?
Her husband, veteran producer-director Martin Bergman, will direct the show. The pair met in London where Bergman was a BBC comedy writer. They have collaborated on many screenplays, including "Peter's Friends" and "A Weekend in the Country."
Born in Miami, Rudner graduated from high school at 15 and headed to New York to pursue a dancing career, appearing in the Broadway productions of "Annie" and "Promises, Promises" (which I saw in 1971).
She shifted to stand-up comedy at 25 and adopted a low-key style similar to her favorite comics, Jack Benny and Woody Allen.
She also created and hosted a syndicated improvisational comedy show, "Ask Rita," a satirical talk and advice show. This earned her a Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Television and Radio.
For "Tickled Pink," Rudner has secured the talents of veteran set and lighting designer D. Martyn Bookwalter as well as costume designer Dwight Richard Odle. The playhouse's Connie Carrillo will handle sound design.
"We are extremely fortunate to call Rita and Martin neighbors and creative collaborators," commented Karen Wood, executive director of the playhouse. "They are delightful and savvy professionals and we couldn't be more thrilled to offer their world-class talent to the Orange County community."
"Tickled Pink" will be performed at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, from April 24 through May 20. However, there is no performance April 27.
Tickets range from $30 to $70 and may be ordered by calling the box office at (949) 497-2787, or going online to http://www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
TOM TITUS covers local theater for the Coastline Pilot.
If You Go
What: Fundraiser for Laguna Playhouse, featuring drop-in by Rita Rudner and cast of "Tickled Pink"
When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: The Marine Room, 214 Ocean Ave.