Linda Merritt is a well known personality within the local theatre community. She has performed with several organizations throughout Iowa and appeared multiple times on the Starlighters stage, most recently as Mamita in Gigi. This December she'll be treading the boards again as Grandma Abby in Christmas Dreams, a play about a woman raising her grandson during the challenges of the Great Depression.
To help our audiences get to know the person who will be bringing Grandma Abby to life, I asked Linda a few questions about her acting experience and this upcoming performance.
JB: How many shows have you been in at Starlighters?
LM: I've been onstage at Starlighters 17 times -- 18 if you count "Christmas Dreams" which goes up in December. Favorites among them are Mrs. Lovett in "Sweeney Todd" and Fonsia Dorsey in "The Gin Game." Of course, I have to include Grandma Abby in "Christmas Dreams" because all actors love the roles they're currently playing.
JB: What other theatres have you performed with?
LM: Other theaters I have performed with include (in alphabetical order): ActOne Community Theatre in Vinton, Cedar Falls Community Theatre in Cedar Falls, Dreamwell Theater in Iowa City, Iowa City Community Theater in Iowa City, Red Herring Theatre Collective in Cedar Falls, Theatre Cedar Rapids in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo Community Playhouse in Waterloo, Women in Theater (WIT) in Lihue, Hawaii
JB: What has been your favorite role at any theatre?
LM: Favorite role at any theatre? That's really difficult since I've been lucky enough to have had a lot of memorable roles. If I had the opportunity to do any of them over again, though, for non-musicals I'd probably choose Dottie Otley/Mrs. Clackett in "Noises Off." It was so much FUN! Among the musicals, I'd like to reprise Frauline Schneider in "Cabaret."
JB: What made you want to audition for Christmas Dreams?
LM: The fact that Charlotte Scheckel is directing "Chaaristmas Dreams" made me want to audition. Charlotte is a dear friend and a fine director. In fact, if I learned that she was planning to direct traffic, I'd audition. She directed Starlighters' production of "The Gin Game" -- a show that I had on my bucket list for years -- and the experience was everything I had hoped it would be.
JB: What do you like about your character?
LM: I like Grandma Abby because she says what's on her mind. She loves her family, but she doesn't shy away from telling them what she thinks of them. And she's funny!
JB: Why should people come see Christmas Dreams?
LM: People should come to see the show because it's a good way to get into the Christmas spirit. Miracles DO happen.
JB: Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition or memory that you’d like to share?
LM: Cinnamon apples! When I was growing up, most of the people in my family didn't like cranberry sauce. (My mother and I were the odd ones; we both liked it a lot.) My mom always tried to make everyone happy, though, and she wanted to put something on the table that looked festive and bright. So -- she'd pare and quarter apples and soak them overnight in a hot syrup made of cinnamon red hot candies, water, a little sugar and the juice of a lemon. To this day, it wouldn't feel like Christmas without cinnamon apples on the table.
If you enjoyed reading this, you'll want to make sure to see Christmas Dreams! Get your tickets today for this beautiful story of love and forgiveness.