Original article here.
When Portland actress Wendy Westerwelle -- a legend in the theater community -- wrote a one-woman show last year, she had no idea if it would soar or flop when it debuted.
The show, called "Medicare-Fully Fabulous," was a deeply personal story that opens with Westerwelle in a hospital bed, admitting she'd hit bottom, broken emotionally, physically and spiritually.
It was a hit.
Held at Triangle Productions-Sanctuary Theater, 1785 N.E. Sandy Blvd., the play sold out during its two-month run last winter. Westerwelle sang, danced and took the crowd on a journey that was funny, painful, powerful and empowering.
The director and production manager, bowing to customer calls, asked if she'd do four more performances. After taking a break, relaxing and traveling to Europe, she got back to Portland, worked out the kinks and scheduled four performances for Aug. 8-9 and Aug. 15-16. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. with tickets ranging from $15 to $30.
"I had to do this again," she said with a laugh. "People have told me the play changed their lives because it deals with growing old, our bodies and how we think about them."
Westerwelle, 66, said after one performance an audience member asked to meet her.
"She said she had cancer and only a few weeks to live," said Westerwelle. "She said she wanted to go out with her friends and laugh. She died a few weeks after coming to the show. It blew my mind. It was such an honor that she came to see me."
When the show ends, Westerwelle will turn her attention to another one-woman show, also at Triangle Productions.
"It's on Dr. Ruth Westheimer," Westerwelle said. "She was a Holocaust survivor who fought the Nazis. There is funny stuff in it, but it is not a comedy."
Westerwelle said at this stage of her long career she wants to do work that's meaningful.
"I'm too old to get up on stage just to be up there," she said. "It has to matter to the audience and to me."
--Tom Hallman Jr.