THE PLAY’S THE THING”Look Away,” a two-woman...



“Look Away,” a two-woman play about Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of the slain president, and her friend Elizabeth Keckley, an African-American woman and ex-slave, runs this weekend at the new Palmdale Playhouse.

The play is the first in a series of cultural arts/history programs to be produced by the city of Palmdale. Because the production runs the weekend before the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration and two weeks before Black History Month, city officials say the play will be a good opportunity to teach young people about the Lincoln era.

The play is set in 1875, 10 years after her husband was assassinated, and Lincoln has been committed by her son to the Bellevue Hospital for Insane Persons in Illinois. The action takes place on her last night in the asylum. Lincoln is reminiscing about her past.


The play, written by Jerome Kilty based on actual correspondence between the two women, originally opened and closed in one night in New York 23 years ago. But that was largely a matter of poor timing.

The production, starring Geraldine Page and Maya Angelou and directed by Rip Torn, was the third play about Mrs. Lincoln produced in New York that season. (The others were “The Lincoln Mask” and “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln”). Clive Barnes of the New York Times in his review said rather jadedly that although “Look Away” might possibly be the best of the three, he was in an “unreceptive mood” to hear anymore about the 16th president’s troubled widow.

The play was adapted for television in 1987 by KCET-TV here in Los Angeles and starred Ellen Burstyn and Madge Sinclair. The Palmdale production, starring Dea McAllister as Lincoln and Jesselen Greenidge Taylor as Keckley, is directed by Michael Duncan.

* “Look Away,” a two-person drama about Mary Todd Lincoln, will be presented at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Palmdale Playhouse, 38334 10th St. East. Tickets are $12 general, $10 youth. Call (805) 267-5685.


The city of Palmdale plans a celebration in honor of Martin Luther King at 5 p.m. Monday at the Palmdale Playhouse. The celebration will feature a children’s chorus, Lancer Stompers dance group and Latino dancers. Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford will deliver opening and closing remarks, and the keynote speaker will be radio talk show host, Diana Beard Williams. Free admission. Call (805) 273-7502.

Also, the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council plans its eighth annual celebration service to honor Martin Luther King Jr. at 7 p.m. Monday at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 15950 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. Call (818) 718-6460.


The First African Methodist Episcopal Church Choir will perform a gospel music concert in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Gindi Auditorium at the University of Judaism, 15600 Mulholland Drive. Tickets are $15 general, $20 preferred. Call (310) 476-9777, Ext. 201.


Keith Clark will conduct the Glendale Symphony Orchestra in its first concert of the new year on Saturday at the Alex Theatre. Violinist Elmar Oliveira, winner of Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition, will be the featured soloist in a new violin concerto written by the symphony’s resident composer Mark McGurty.

The program will also include Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9.

* The Glendale Symphony Orchestra will perform in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Alex Theatre, 219 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Tickets are $12-$50. Call (818) 500-8720.