The show must go on

Jacalynne Flax stars as "Shirley Valentine," opening night Saturday at the Malibu Stage Co. Joel Ball / TMT

And it did. Star of “Shirley Valentine” performs despite bout of food poisoning.

By Laura Tate/Editor


ctress Jacalynne Flax, star of “Shirley Valentine,” embodied the true spirit of a professional actor dedicated to her craft at opening night of the one-woman play Saturday at the Malibu Stage Co. Despite coming down with what was reportedly food poisoning, Flax gamely took to the stage to reprise her role of a middle class housewife who dreams of escaping her ordinary life to find adventure and romance in Greece.

In addition to being sick, anything else that could go wrong, almost did, from a key prop-a robe that her character takes out of a gift box-gone missing, causing Flax to halt her performance while stage crew scurried looking for it, to a bag that Flax tried to pick up repeatedly only to discover it was stuck under a heavy post (“Now I know why I can’t pick it up,” Flax said out loud to the audience) to the finale-as Flax left the stage, a potted tree fell down.

During it all, Flax courageously went on with the show, and stayed in character.

If I had not known that Flax was sick prior to the show, I don’t think I would have noticed anything was wrong-in fact, much of the audience was not aware until the stage manager made an announcement that she was sick just before the end of the first act (Flax had to be escorted off stage, but then came back after recovering to finish the act). The fact that she leaned constantly either on the table center stage, once in a while taking a sip of stage wine, or with her back against a wall, moving little as possible, could have been attributed to her character’s drinking.

The dialogue of the play, written by Willy Russell, is clever and moving-leaving one feeling the need to not let our life go unused and stifled. Yet, a good actor is needed to convey the despair of Shirley Valentine’s life of drudgery and unfulfillment, maintaining a sense of humor about it at the same time, and then the struggle and fear that come with the decision to make a dramatic change-to live life to its fullest, whatever the cost.

Flax is such an actor.

And she also knows how to take everything in stride, despite the setbacks.

She received a standing ovation from the full house, and said, after asking the audience to sit, “I would take a bow, but I’m afraid I’ll vomit.”

“Shirley Valentine” performs through Sept. 12. More information and tickets can be obtained by calling 310.589.1998.