Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 2, 2012

NPR's 'Selected Shorts' takes on romance

Stars bring stories to life at Opera House


TRAVERSE CITY — Love will be in the air Saturday at the City Opera House.

The National Public Radio series, "Selected Shorts," opens at 8 p.m. with live performances by three acclaimed television, film and theater performers. The evening of "Selected Shorts: Falling in Love" features Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Keir Dullea ("2001: A Space Odyssey") and Mia Dillon ("Crimes of the Heart").

With a subject matter toiled over by authors for eons, "Selected Shorts: Falling in Love" promises to cover the complexities of love — from newlyweds and honeymoons to unrequited love and marriages.

While Dullea and Dillon have performed together on stage, they have been married since 1999. In fact, the couple met at a "Selected Shorts" performance in 1995.

"You never know where you'll find love. It was total serendipity that Isaiah Sheffer (director and host of "Selected Shorts") asked both of us to read on that night," said Dillon, who first encountered Dullea in the green room at Symphony Space theater in New York City.

The couple, who lives in Connecticut and New York City, have done numerous "Selected Shorts" since then. Dullea said his wife holds the record for the most "Selected Shorts" performances, having performed across the country in Washington, Montana, Texas, Florida, Washington, D.C., Delaware and Maine. Saturday will mark their first "Selected Shorts" trip to Michigan — if they can get a flight here. The couple's Connecticut home was without power Wednesday in the wake of Superstorm Sandy that wreaked havoc on the East Coast and they weren't expecting power for six to seven days. They were headed to their place in New York City, which still had electricity at the time.

When they arrive in Traverse City, the three award-winning actors are scheduled to read from several selected works.

Kaczmarek will perform "The Proxy Marriage" by Maile Meloy, a novelist and short story author whose work has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and Granta. Dillon will do "Here We Are" by Dorothy Parker. Dullea closes the show with "Do You Know Where I Am?" by award-winning author, poet and filmmaker Sherman Alexie.

"It's a very powerful and complex story of two students who meet in college and there is a betrayal that colors their relationship," said Dullea, who has been asked to read his favorite author's story on three separate occasions for "Selected Shorts." "It is an amazing piece of work."

Dillon concurs on the power of Alexie's short story, which appears in the book, "Ten Little Indians."

"I cry at the end," she said. "I've heard Keir rehearse the story and perform it on the radio, but it always gets to me."

The Selected Shorts weekly public radio show is broadcast on more than 130 stations. The show, which began in 1985, is recorded live at the Peter Sharp Theater at Symphony Space in New York City. It is produced by Symphony Space, a not-for-profit center for the performing arts, and WNYC Radio. Locally, Interlochen Public Radio broadcasts "Selected Shorts" at 6 p.m. every Saturday.

Each "Shorts" episode and performance has an overall theme. The fictional short stories include both classic and contemporary works performed by actors from stage, screen and television.

Originally from Wisconsin, Kaczmarek is a three-time Golden Globe and seven-time Emmy Award nominee. She is currently featured on the TV series, "Whitney," and is best known for her role as the mother on the Fox series, "Malcolm in the Middle." She has appeared in more than 40 television roles.

Dullea has 24 films to his credit, including the lead role in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." He has recently starred in the films, "The Good Shepherd" and "The Accidental Husband." A Tony-nominated actress, Dillon has appeared on Broadway in "Crimes of the Heart," "Our Town," "Agnes of God" and other shows.

Dillon is confident that audience members will love what they hear at "Selected Shorts."

"I invariably fall in love with each story," she said. "I love to grab hold of the characters and bring them to life."

Tickets range from $20 to $35. Student tickets are $15 with school ID. Tickets are available through the City Opera House box office at 941-8082 or