Katharine Ross to appear at Malibu Stage Co.

Katharine Ross will read the lead role in Peter Shaffer's "Lettice and Lovage" Saturday at the Malibu Stage Co.

The Malibu Stage Co. play-reading series continues Saturday with the third installment in a series of four.

By Ryan O’Quinn / Special to The Malibu Times

Veteran actress and Malibu local Katharine Ross will read the role of Lettice in Peter Shaffer’s comedy “Lettice and Lovage” Saturday evening at the Malibu Stage Co. theater.

The reading will mark Ross’ return to the stage for the first time since a 2002 staged reading on Broadway.

In an interview with The Malibu Times Monday, Ross, who starred in “The Graduate” opposite Dustin Hoffman and in “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, said she took the initiative to contact the Malibu Stage Co. after taking an art class for fun with a mutual friend. The teacher had done costumes for the company and told Ross she should contact Bridgeman.

“I gave her a copy of the play, she went home and read it and said she would love to do it here,” said Jacqueline Bridgeman, Malibu Stage Co. board president.

Ross, who has appeared in more than 50 television shows and movies, said she is excited to return to the stage, particularly with Malibu Stage Co.

“I’ve seen some of the productions there and they have been very good,” Ross said. “This theater is something that is really needed here. There are such a number of great, talented people in this community. I’d love to see the theater do well.

“I love the building and I love that it’s on the end of town that I live in,” Ross added. “There’s a nice back stage area there, all the seats are good seats, it’s really got a lot to offer. We just need to get people used to it and concentrate on the art that is created there.”

“Lettice and Lovage” revolves around Lettice Douffet who has been fired from various tour guide jobs because of her tendency to dramatically exaggerate facts. She forges an unlikely friendship with Lotte Schoen, a conservative inspector, who appreciates her flair for reenacting British history.

Ross said she was excited about doing the reading with Joan Benedict Steiger, widow to the late Rod Steiger who will be reading the role of Lotte, and working with director Don Reiker. She said playwright Shaffer’s writing was wonderful, but noted she had big shoes to fill, referring to Maggie Smith’s Tony Award-winning performance, for whom Shaffer wrote the play.

“It’s a reading so we’ll be holding scripts of course,” Ross said. “But we’re on our feet a little bit. I think it will be fun for the audience. It’s like coming in on an early rehearsal of the play.”

Ross first appeared on television in 1962 and garnered numerous accolades for her portrayals on the large and small screen. Among her credits is the role of Elaine Robinson in “The Graduate,” directed by Mike Nichols.

Two years later, in 1969, she was Etta Place in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” with leading men Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

Her number one leading man, however, is husband Sam Elliott whom she met on the set of “Butch Cassidy.” They have appeared together in several projects including the television movie westerns “Conagher,” “Murder in Texas” and “The Shadow Riders.”

Ross and Elliott have lived in Malibu since 1968.

Tickets for the play reading series are $10. The Malibu Stage Co. is located at 29243 PCH. Performances begin at 8 p.m. More information on the play-reading series or the full season, which begins on April 14, can be obtained by calling 310.589.1998.